Letter: Turnout rule is an insult to democracy

To the Editors:
What happened earlier this month was an insult to democracy. The school budget was defeated in a vote yet passed due to some arbitrary rule implemented by our leaders. The rule as it is, where 15% of the voters need to participate in order for the vote to count, incentivizes the board to discourage community participation. The easiest way for the budget to get approved is NOT tell anyone. There should be no such rule in place for any election. Or what if we invert the rule, where if less than 15% of the town votes the budget fails? That forces our leaders to ensure information is disseminated and encourages townspeople to participate in the funding of our schools and community.
One easy solution is to make voting easier. Having polls open only on one Saturday can be difficult. Given that absentee ballots are available at town hall, it is easy to mail an absentee ballot to every registered voter. If half of Wilton is of voting age then based on a population of 18,000 it would cost the town $4,500 in postage. I’m confident voter participation would increase dramatically.
The other thing worth discussing is separating the school budget from the operating budget. We should be able to control and opine on each for its own merits.
It’s not all on our leaders though. We should control the discussion, not the board. That 10 people can spend our money with no controls is absurd. It’s ultimately up to the people that live here to care enough to force change. There’s a lot of bad data coming out of Wilton — lagging house prices, higher taxes, zero services, a steadily decreasing business tax base, empty storefronts, and a $55 million bond to be paid.
The best way to voice your feelings is in the voting booth and through direct contact with town leaders. Complaining to each other on Facebook won’t get anything done. Mr. Brennan et al should be embarrassed about these events. I don’t know how in good conscience they could allow this to occur without enacting sweeping reforms to the process. If you don’t vote you can’t complain.

Andy Schlesinger
Wilton, May 12