Voters now have two chances to decide easement purchase

Voting on the proposed Keiser property easement purchase by the town of Wilton will now take place via a machine vote on Tuesday, Nov. 19, and Saturday, Nov. 23, according to a press release distributed by First Selectman Bill Brennan. The vote had previously been scheduled as a hand vote only during a Special Town Meeting on Nov. 19.

Registrar of voters Carole Young-Kleinfeld confirmed on Monday the Keiser easement vote will now take place by machine on Nov. 19 following the Special Town Meeting, and will be continued on Saturday, Nov. 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Both votes will take place at the Wilton High School Clune Center.

All registered voters and personal property owners — U.S. citizens, at least 18 years old, and appearing on the last-completed grand list — are eligible to vote on this issue.

Voters may also cast absentee ballots. Voters may request absentee ballots by submitting an application to Town Clerk Bettye Ragognetti. Applications may be mailed in or submitted in person at the town clerk’s office during normal business hours. Ballots became available Oct. 29, and will be mailed after receipt of application.

Absentee voters may cast a ballot in person at town clerk’s office or return their  ballot by mail, but mailed ballots must be received in the town clerk’s office no later than 4:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 22.

The Keiser property is a 39-acre parcel of land near the intersection of Cannon and Seeley roads. The Board of Selectmen hopes to purchase this easement for $2.5 million through a 20-year bond. The cost to the town would be $2.2 million, as the Wilton Land Trust would contribute $300,000 to the purchase.

The purchase must be approved by a town vote.

The voting procedure for the Keiser property question was changed after town counsel, Chief Financial Officer Sandra Dennies, and Mr. Brennan discovered that “in the town charter, a bonding question must be submitted to a machine vote by the voters of the town,” Ms. Young-Kleinfeld said. “The charter defines what a machine vote is: a Tuesday night machine vote, and an adjourned machine vote four days later.”

No vote totals will be announced after the Tuesday machine vote, Ms. Young-Kleinfeld said. Only one total will be announced after the Saturday vote.

Voting on those days will proceed so long as the Special Town Meeting regarding the question achieves a quorum of 50 residents in attendance. If a quorum is not achieved, Ms. Young-Kleinfeld said, rescheduling the Town Meeting is “left to the discretion” of the Board of Selectmen.

Though the change is relatively short notice for a voting question, she said her department is prepared for both votes.

“It cannot be a one-night hand vote, or a voice vote. It has to be a machine vote. That means it has to be done on Tuesday and Saturday,” she said. “We are ready to do that. We will be getting machines programmed and ordering ballots to have people ready to vote on Tuesday night right after the meeting is adjourned.”