Letter: Shame on the apathetic voters

To the Editors:

Wilton is like too many localities around America. The voting public grows more apathetic over time. I hesitated to send along this note for it will likely be read by the people it’s not primarily intended for (preaching to the choir) — the voters in this years Annual Town Meeting. It’s meant for the approximately 90 percent who just make no effort to stay informed or participate in the process. Unfortunately, they who should will not read my words.

Shame on them for abrogating their responsibility as citizens, to be informed, then step up and be counted.

Including the American Revolution, more than 1,354,000 people have lost their lives fighting for our country. Again, including the American Revolution, some 1,450,000-plus people have been seriously wounded in defense of our country. It is also true there are a countless numbers of people whose lives have been directly or indirectly impacted in no small way the result of physical, mental and/or emotional health issues related to the support (defense) of our country.

For the people of Wilton or for that matter any citizen of America not to participate in our democracy, our most basic responsibility as a citizen, is the ultimate disrespect for those who’ve fought so that we have the right/ability to do what so many people around the world can hardly dream of.

During the tri-board meeting held in advance of the mill rate meetings of the BOF (Board of Finance), a member of the Board of Education stated with no reservation that the lack of participation by Wilton’s voters was plainly a tacit affirmation of the great work the elected officials of the town were doing and people didn’t feel the need to come out to meetings and apparently vote. I believe this point of view is completely off base, self-grandiose, and a bad premise from which to lead, let alone establish and grow policy.

In fact, this lack of participation is apathy (plain and simple), and the gap between apathy and tacit approval is wider than the Grand Canyon.

Sadly, this recurring theme of apathy shows no sign of abating. Of course there is the curiosity of the four-year cycle when people do come out to vote in the presidential election, in typically strong numbers, yet for the election that most impacts local day-to-day life you just can’t get the needle to budge.

This issue has perplexed so many for so long, particularly those that do make an effort to participate, but no one has a true handle on what drives this phenomena. We may never have that knowledge.

The town charter includes a caveat that if 15 percent of the eligible electorate doesn’t vote in the Annual Town Meeting budget election, then the budgets automatically pass. I have been a loud, consistent voice in opposition to this concept and reality. I believe each person is entitled to a vote and that their vote should absolutely matter. When you have something like the 15 percent rule in place, anytime less than a 15-percent turnout happens, every one of our votes effectively has no value. No person or policy should have the ability to negate anyone’s vote.

When First Selectwoman Vanderslice ran for office, she regularly spoke to this point stating she would be the one to do something about the 15 percent rule. Unfortunately, politics and perhaps pragmatism have kept the Board of Selectmen from convening a Charter Commission, which is the process for addressing something like the 15 percent rule. Unfortunately, to convene such a Charter Commission means the entire charter is open for evaluation and revision. So the 15 percent rule stands, my vote has too often been minimized by it while perhaps saving the town greater problems in what might prove the opening of Pandora’s Box should a Charter Commission be convened.

So what will it take, Wilton? Don’t try to impress by stating how many have joined a Facebook group to show displeasure for school regionalization. A worthy effort for sure, to combat an overreaching state government which for decades continues to demonstrate its inability to contain spending and political pandering at the expense of the state’s financial wellbeing — and dare I say moral core.

Has life really come down to “the click?”

Michael Salit

Wilton, May 14

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