So here we are, June 16, 2017 just three days after a town-wide referendum in Brunswick. An experiment took place by a few of us citizens. Our goal was to find out why, in past referendums, only 8 percent, on average, of the town’s registered voters participated.

Starting in early April, two weeks before tax bills were due, we parked ourselves out in front of the Town Hall, nearly five days a week. We handed out 5-by-4-inch cards outlining two issues. The first was our opposition to the school bond, without a state review. The second, and the primary reason our group was formed, was to try and engage prospective voters to encourage them to vote.

We ended up speaking to hundreds of individuals over the next 9 or 10 weeks at other locations. What we found was that in addition to being nearly universally receptive to our efforts, over 90 percent of the potential Brunswick voters we spoke to either did not know that the referendum was going to take place or were not aware of the issues involved. That, in the “communications age” with the internet, newspapers, and television, was a shock.

The referendum is over. The bond issue attracted 3,819 voters, about 22 percent of those registered in town. This increase over the average referendum turnout was probably due to there being two issues, primarily the school bond, and hopefully to some extent, to our efforts.

The sad truth however, is that 13,000 voters chose to not participate in a democratic process involving two property tax related issues totaling $76 million, one of which will impact our tax bills for 25 to 30 years. Only 262 votes, 1.5 percent of the registered voters, could have changed the outcome.

As a saying by author Louis L’Amour stated, ”To make Democracy work, we must be a nation of participants not simply observers. One who does not vote has no right to complain.”
There are no excuses…..

Jeff Runyon
Brunswick