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Town meeting day: Make it count

In many New Hampshire towns, today is town meeting day. It is something too many of us take for granted.

Most American citizens do not have the option of voting directly on local budget and policy items. All of those decisions are made by elected officials. In New Hampshire, we have the rare privilege of participating in our own self government more directly than most other people do.

And yet many of us ignore it. We say we are too busy. We just cannot be bothered with taking a few minutes to help decide our own collective futures.

You know what happens next. Budget items pass or fail on the vote of small groups of highly interested individuals (municipal employees or taxpayer groups, for example), and the next day we read about it and complain about the outcome. If you do not help shape that outcome, you really should not complain, for you got what you deserved: You ceded to others the full power to decide matters that directly affect you.

Voting is power. Voting in town meeting carries a great deal of power, as there are fewer voters than in most general elections. Every year there are stories from around New Hampshire of major spending or bonding or contract decisions being decided by a handful of votes. Sometimes they are decided by a single vote or receive a tie. If you think your vote does not matter, you have not been paying attention.

It is town meeting day. If you want your view to count, you have to vote. They cannot count it if you don't give it.


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