The internet isn't free, either (or do you pay nothing for your connection)? If you subscribe to The Recorder, you can read the entire paper online, and I expect you could tell them to take your paper copy and donate it to a school.
As for having a lot to scan through, have you paid attention to where we're putting these posts? ;-)
A) the paper isn't free
B) It is not emailed
C) it is not broken down very well into Catagories especially the front page
D) There is a lot more you have to scan through to get to the information you want
E) E mail doesn't pile up in the recycling bin for two weeks at a time. (though if you did you could figure out the recycling schedule based on how old the bottom newspaper is)
"We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to."
Can you provide examples of broken links and outdated information? I've recently volunteered to look into the town's IT infrastructure for the fin comm, and the usefulness of the web site fits right into that. Feel free to contact me privately if you like.
In the meantime, as John Hanold said, whatever its faults, there was plenty of information about the recent election on the web site, and the town clerk is always ready to answer questions. (And yes, the correct URL is http://www.montague-ma.gov, although http://www.montague.net also seems to work.)
One thing that has surprised me in this discussion is the number of people who seem to believe that this site is a good source of information about town affairs. In my experience, that has not been the case, especially in recent years. A good example is the number of people who posted here AFTER the special town meeting in March, saying they didn't know about it. If news about it had been posted here, they would have known about it, right? That plus this current discussion might be clues that if you want to find out about things BEFORE they happen, this site might not be your best choice (enjoyable as it is in every other way, of course! :-)). On the other hand, if all you want to do is complain about how "the town" hasn't lived up to your expectations, this has proven to be an excellent site, time and time again ;-).
In my opinion, if you have time to read and post on this site, you have time to read the paper, so if you don't read the paper it's not from lack of time. It's a choice, and we all make choices, and we can't choose everything, but I think it's important to recognize that it's us making the choices, and in many cases we are perfectly free to make other ones if we really want to. So don't make choices that have certain consequences and then complain about the fact that nobody else rearranged the world so that your choices would work out better than they did. That's not me lecturing -- that's common sense. Isn't it?
I did not notice anyone saying anything that warrants an apology to the town clerk. Nobody said the town or the town clerk did anything wrong. What I saw was suggestions that would make elections more noticeable to a very busy population.
Maybe to get an election board more actively advertise open positions and dates of elections would be nice.
I was not aware until I tried doing research that papers are not required to post election notices (but if they don't then I think people should write the papers to request they do so).
Town Hall and the post office are not the popular hang out places like in the olden days when election notice laws were orginially written.
"Even those of us who are too dumb to vote know that the town web site is montague.net. We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to."
Even those of us who are too dumb to vote know that the town web site is montague.net. We also know it's poorly designed and has broken links and outdated information all over the place, so it's not really worth going to.
This seems to be a very popular thread, and I hope this discussion results in more Corkboard "posters" voting in the future. Here is what a phone call to Town Hall and a brief website look-up yielded:
* Municipal elections are always on the third Monday in May. Every year. Per the bylaws.
* The town website is www.montague-ma.org. To get to the election warrant you use the Elections link at the foot of the Home page -- where the election results will be posted when the Clerk has gotten acceptance from write-in candidates for open seats.
* Higher on the Home page is the notice about many Town Meeting seats being vacant -- it's been there a long time.
* The Town Calendar link on the Home page takes you to the highlighted election posting for 20 May. The NEWS menu on the right has had an election note for some time.
* Notices about this election were first posted in January, and stayed up till the day after the election.
* News articles and postings about absentee ballots and candidates have appeared all spring.
* Lawn signs are the candidate's choice.
As the highly-regarded Mike Naughten would say, here comes the rant.
The above information is provided for the benefit of those who are "very busy," don't drive past their polling places, don't go to Town Hall, don't read the REPORTER or RECORDER, don't watch public TV, don't talk to their neighbors, and so forth. In my opinion, the drumbeat of what _town staff_ should do to mentor and guide possible voters sounds like an embarrassed kid deflecting responsibility from himself to "anyone else." The turn-out problem (and scarcity of contested elections) is not the fault (or responsibility) of town staff -- it begins with voter/resident apathy, and cynicism about government is compounded by incomplete information broadly shared and regularly repeated. An apology to the Clerk's office might be in order?
Now, GO MARK 25 JUNE ON YOUR CALENDARS! It's a TUESDAY, we are electing both a Selectman and a U.S. Senator, and the polling places are the same as always. Pay attention to news articles (if you don't normally read newspapers, arrange for a friend [some may have to fall back instead on a neighbor] to clip articles for you). Watch for a likely Candidate Forum featuring Selectman candidates, and ask questions.
If the town were to come into the 21 st century I'm sure they could find better ways to get the word out. Otherwise 9% voter turnout will be the norm. Maybe the town doesn't want too many people voting. in this electronic age better ways are there
Chapter 63 Section 51. In towns using official ballots the town clerk, at least four days before an election therein, shall cause to be posted in one or more public places the names, residences and designations of all candidates duly nominated to be voted for in the town, substantially in the form of the official ballot.
I did not find anything in the state law about how notices for town elections need to be posted. (not to say isn't there, I am not an expert at searching laws). There was one requirement that cities had to send copies to their local newspapers but it specifically said that there was no requirement for the newspaer to print it.
I am sure the town did everything legally required. Saying it is up to the individual to stay informed by constantly having to spend their time to look to see if an election is coming up seems a very high bar in today's world when we don't have time to even read the papers any more. If I had lived for a long time in this town I may finially see a pattern to the voting but I have moved around a bit and everywhere (including towns in MA) have their own schedule and not easy to keep track.
If you don't want uninformed people voting maybe you should request the town not put up signs identifying polling places so that only the select few who stay informed can vote. This is why so many of us served in the military so just the elite could vote.
patrick - I was ranting, and I may have exaggerated a bit, but basically, yes, I'd prefer that people who don't know what they're voting for not vote. I don't know that I "complained" about low turnout; if anything, I think I "lamented" it, but that's different. I do think it's too bad that so few people consider it their duty to find out what's going on in local government and participate when possible, but that doesn't mean I want to lower the bar very much (if at all). It's like lamenting poor math or reading skills -- the answer isn't to make the tests easier.
Maybe there are ways "the town" could get the word out better, but there are cost/benefit questions for all of them. And look at this thread -- as you say, there are "several people [who] have now stated that they had no clue there was an election", and all of them have called for "someone else" to make more effective efforts to keep them informed. None of them that I saw seemed to consider the possibility that they, themselves, might also make more effective efforts to _be_ informed. Why is it always someone else's job to make sure you know what's going on?
Like many organizations, this town is run by people who know when to show up and then show up. If you want to be one of those people, the bar is pretty low -- but you do still have to show up. If you think there's an election coming up, the town web site has a calendar, and if that doesn't have the information a phone call or email to the town clerk will give the answer.
But just knowing about an election doesn't tell you about the issues, and don't expect "the town" to fill you in. For obvious reasons, the town is officially neutral on all ballot issues, so beyond providing the basic facts you're on your own. That's where other sources come in -- the newspapers, MCTV, this corkboard, whatever. You don't need cable to watch MCTV -- you can watch it on Vimeo (I just learned that tonight, though it may be old news to some :-)).
Signs are costly? the way the town pisses money away over the years I'm sure a few signs won't break the bank. Just don't put a lawn sign on the old Monty center school, the grass is getting too high to see it. Looking like a slum lord owns the joint
Signs work, but they're costly, you have to pay people to put them up and take them down, and they get vandalized or stolen. I'd be satisfied with posts on this site (far more trivial things than elections get posted here regularly) and an opt-in email or robo-call system, both of which would be inexpensive, environmentally friendly and efficient.
I strongly agree with the last post - and raised the issue at town hall yesterday. The town should shell out for at least 100 signs that can be put up the week before the election. Maybe this should not be necessary in the best of all possible worlds but if it increases turnout it is worth it.
As far as the second selectboard election in June, that was made necessary by Pat Allen resigning before her term was up. She resigned after the process for the May election was well under way so they really had no choice but to have another election. They piggybacked it on to the special election for U.S. Senate caused by Kerry being appointed to Sec. of State.
I think many people found out about the election from the vote here signs on election day so I think the town only needs to put up a preelection sign a week early. I do not think it is the town's responsiblity to post it at stores or gas stations. I don't know the legal reguirement but I vaguely require having to post in the local paper and posting at the town hall is the minimum that a town has to do.
If people are informed in advanced then they can get informed as to what/who is on the ballot.
"As long as those idiots still keep paying taxes to the town, it all works out"
I would never call Mike an idiot, far from it. Which is why this reaction surprises me.
I don't think the civic duty to vote necessarily includes scouring the newspaper to find out when the next election is, when said election has not been mentioned on this site, and was not mentioned, that I recall, at the recent Town Meeting. I can't get cable and we stopped getting the paper because, honestly, we never read it. I buy it when there is something I want to read, and I would have done so if I'd heard a single peep about the election. All I heard was that someone I know is running for Selectboard, and I heard no mention of when. I do agree that the town seems to have little trouble letting us know when we owe them money, and I hold that it is their responsibility to let the voters know when to go to the polls. Again, especially when one's polling place has been moved to a remote spot that few people in the Precinct go by regularly.
"Seriously? Even though several people have now stated they had no clue there was an election, you'd rather see none of us vote because we're all uninformed idiots who put random Xes on the ballot? But you also want to complain about low turnout. Am I missing anything?"
Typical thinking. As long as those idiots still keep paying taxes to the town, it all works out
"I wonder how much the cost would be to post a sign a week before at the local stores, gas stations , watering holes , package stores and the 3 post offices. That would kind of cover almost all of the folks. Just an non Montagueite offering a suggestion.. ED"
Not much I'm sure, but the town could always pay for a study to find out . The town seems to have no problem letting people know when it's time to pay them.
"I don't care if people read newspapers or not, and I'd prefer that people who need to see signs on their way to work end up not voting because they didn't see a sign -- I'd rather have that than have to count the votes of a bunch of people who randomly marked "X"es on ballots while thinking they were doing the rest of us a favor. Don't kid yourselves -- you're not doing anyone a favor. If your lives are too full of other things to pay attention to how the town in which you live is governed, then fine -- you'll get no criticism from me. Just don't complain when those of us who do try to pay attention don't bend over backwards to keep you informed. We're busy, too."
Seriously? Even though several people have now stated they had no clue there was an election, you'd rather see none of us vote because we're all uninformed idiots who put random Xes on the ballot? But you also want to complain about low turnout. Am I missing anything?
I wonder how much the cost would be to post a sign a week before at the local stores, gas stations , watering holes , package stores and the 3 post offices. That would kind of cover almost all of the folks. Just an non Montagueite offering a suggestion.. ED
having signs up on the day of the voting seems to be how several people on this site found out about the election, so there for signs work. There is legitimate concern about people voting who have no clue about the candidates. The easiest solution would be a different color sign put up a week ahead of time that there is going to be an election which would give time to people who care to research what and who is on the ballot.
I think the lack of effort of candidates to get the word out about themselves seemed fairly evident. If the candidates appear apathtic then why shouldn't the voters be too?
If turn out was only 9% , either people did not know or did not care. I'm quite sure a little more effort could have been made to notify town residents. Not all of us are sitting around all day watching the weather channel and local access.
Just to be clear, I didn't mean to chastise anybody for not reading the newspaper; I just pointed out to people who were complaining about not knowing about yesterday's election that if they _did_ read the newspaper they might have known about it, since it was in the newspaper. I also wondered how they would learn about the different candidates if they don't read newspapers, since in my experience newspapers have been the best source for that information.
People around the world are bleeding and dying for the chance to have a voice in their government. To them, I think, this whole thread would seem nuts, if not obscene. We are lucky enough to live in a place where government "by the people" is a given -- at least at the local level -- and "the people" respond by saying, "Whut? How come nobody told me? Next time, put a sign up on my way to work, or post something on my Facebook page, or send me a tweet, and maybe I'll do you the favor of showing up to vote in your -- what is this election about, again?" How ridiculous must that look to someone who doesn't share that sense of complacency and self-entitlement?
I don't care if people read newspapers or not, and I'd prefer that people who need to see signs on their way to work end up not voting because they didn't see a sign -- I'd rather have that than have to count the votes of a bunch of people who randomly marked "X"es on ballots while thinking they were doing the rest of us a favor. Don't kid yourselves -- you're not doing anyone a favor. If your lives are too full of other things to pay attention to how the town in which you live is governed, then fine -- you'll get no criticism from me. Just don't complain when those of us who do try to pay attention don't bend over backwards to keep you informed. We're busy, too.