Support change to all-day ballot voting for Hollis-Brookline co-op

To the Editor:

I am writing in support of passage of a change to all-day secret ballot voting for the co-op district. This change would be for the adoption of Senate Bill 2. To date, 79 school districts in New Hampshire have switched to ballot voting.

The time is right. Our two towns, Brookline and Hollis, comprise 12,000-plus residents, and many do not have an opportunity to vote on $21 million dollar budgets and bonds at the annual March co-op meeting. District meetings have taken up to three evenings, and sessions have been running longer and later into the night.

Occasionally, if proposed and attendees at the meeting so allow, the moderator will keep the ballot box open for an hour at best while we scramble to find a way for others in our households, friends and neighbors to get to the high school auditorium in Hollis to cast their votes.

The current system is an anachronism, as it is not only broken, but effectively sidelines voters and for that reason is unrepresentative. Under Senate Bill 2 (known in New Hampshire as the “Official Ballot Act”), there will be a town meeting style deliberative session open to all registered voters with an opportunity to examine the budget proposed by the school board, make and offer amendments, and discuss what is under consideration.

Approximately 30 days later, after additional review of the pros and cons, citizens will vote on the proposed budget, and if not supported, a default budget will become effective, which continues the prior year’s appropriations (level funding).

SB2 will also avoid the controversial late-night reconsiderations on warrants previously voted upon and decided. Those who are homebound, away on business or military duty, away at college or otherwise unable to attend will qualify for an absentee ballot and have their voice heard.

This change will truly put the “self” back into self-government. It is reasonable, broadens voter participation for both towns and adds credibility to whatever is enacted at the co-op because it provides the opportunity for all who have a stake to be heard. This proposal had majority support in both towns when last voted on, but fell short of the 60 percent required for adoption.

Please support this change to all-day secret ballot voting for the co-op. At your polling place on Tuesday, March 10, vote yes to adopting SB2.

Peter Walker
Brookline