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West Ossipee Fire Commissioners want to reconsider ballot voting

September 22, 2011
OSSIPEE— Citing apparent costs and requirements that are too cumbersome for a small municipality, West Ossipee Fire Precinct Commissioners are hoping voters will reconsider their decision to vote for officers by non-partisan official ballot.

At the precinct's annual meeting in January, voters approved by a close margin of 27-25, to change the way they elect commissioners, treasurer, clerk, and moderator.

The current method involves these officers being nominated at the annual precinct meeting and a hand vote being taken immediately following the nomination.

The non-partisan ballot voting method requires that potential candidates declare their candidacy, in writing, a month before the annual meeting to have their name added to the ballot. Then, at annual meeting, voters are presented a ballot and make their selections in the privacy of an election booth.

The first non-partisan ballot election is set to take place at the January 2012 annual meeting.

The decision was made by former commissioners Henry Ela, Roger Tice, and Paul Jay to put the article on the 2011 warrant to ask voters to change the way elections are held. It was their stated opinion at the time that voters should have the right to know ahead of time who the candidates are. The time between sign-up and election would also allow candidates some campaigning time, a chance to know the competition, and a chance for constituents to understand the candidates' positions on the various issues related to running a precinct. Another reason the former commissioners backed the idea of ballot voting is to allow for absentee voting, an option that is not allowable under the current method.

At a special meeting held Aug. 19, precinct commissioners Paula Moore and Greg Howard voted to move forward with holding a special meeting to reconsider the January vote. Commissioner Paul Jay was absent. Howard explained that following January's precinct meeting voters were glad that absentee voting would now be allowed for those who could not attend the annual meeting. But, according to the Aug. 19 minutes, their joy faded when they realized the absentee ballot is only for the election of officers and absentee voters would not be allowed to vote on the precinct's budget.

Oct. 17 at 6 p.m. precinct commissioners will hold a special meeting at West Ossipee Fire Department at 2380 Route 16 and ask voters to reconsider their January vote. If that passes, annual voting will happen as it has in the past with nominations being accepted at precinct meeting with a hand vote immediately following.

On another note, the commissioners have decided due to the ensuing budget season and increased workload they will resume meeting twice monthly, on the first and third Mondays of the month at 7 p.m.

Varney Smith
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