Hermon amendment curbed by poor turnout

Posted June 10, 2009, at 10:56 p.m.

HERMON, Maine — In Tuesday’s municipal election, Hermon residents voted overwhelmingly in favor of Article 4, an amendment to the town’s constitution to allow absentee voting at both regular and special town meetings on local bond issues.

But the amendment didn’t pass.

Due to a law mandating that changes to the town charter can only pass if the total number of people who voted is at least 30 percent of the last gubernatorial election’s turnout, a quorum was not reached, and Article 4 failed.

In the case of Tuesday’s election, 624 people would have had to vote in order for the article to pass. The actual number of voters was 430.

According to Town Clerk Carol Davis, Tuesday’s turnout was expected.

“For an off-year election it was pretty typical,” she said.

The average turnout for June elections is 322 people, while the average turnout for a November election is 1,312 people, she said.

Davis said the town wanted to vote on the issue after a bond issue to build a new community center failed to pass because of the prevalence of absentee ballots.

“Because it was a special town meeting, absentees were not allowed,” she said. The proposed amendment would have changed this to allow absentee ballots for both regular and special town meetings to be counted.

Absentee voting has been more prevalent lately, which can be a burden on small towns, Davis said.

“It’s a pain for smaller communities. It involves a lot of paperwork,” she said.

The town considered shelving the article until November, when officials knew that the turnout would be much higher. In the end, though, the article was put on the ballot.

Davis expects the town to vote again on the charter amendment in November.

On Tuesday, the school budget passed, 284 to 135. The total budget for the coming school year is $12,511,684.

Donna Pulver and Donald Shepley were elected to the Town Council.

Ruth Nickerson and Shelley Snow were elected to the School Committee.

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