Support ballot voting change for co-op

To the Editor:

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

Brookline and Hollis now comprise over 12,000 residents, and many do not have an opportunity to vote on $21 million budgets and bonds at the annual co-op meeting.

District meetings have taken up to three evenings, and sessions have been running longer and later into the night. Occasionally, if attendees at the meeting allow, the ballot box may remain 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 in Hollis to cast their votes.

This current system is an anachronism. It is broken because it effectively sidelines voters, and for that reason is unrepresentative. It may have worked well decades ago, but it is exclusionary in 2016.

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, motions and discuss what is under consideration. Approximately 30 days later, after additional review of the pros and cons, residents will have an opportunity to vote all day at the polls by secret ballot on the final articles.

SB2 avoids the controversial late-night reconsiderations on warrants previously voted upon and decided. Those who are away on business, military duty, college or otherwise unable to attend will qualify for an absentee ballot and be 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 affords the opportunity for all who have a stake to be heard.

\It should be a right for any registered voter to cast a ballot on matters having this much impact on our communities. This change had majority support in the district last year, but fell just two votes 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 8, vote YES to adopting SB2.

Peter Walker
Brookline