EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

Opinion

March 13, 2014

Editorial: Didn't vote? Don't complain

New Hampshire voters had their say Tuesday — or at least a few of them did.

The shameful turnout for deliberative sessions last month in Southern New Hampshire was repeated around much of the region at the polls Tuesday.

In most towns, few people bothered to find 10 minutes in a 12- to 13-hour polling window to cast a ballot for or against operating budgets, new dump trucks, school bonds, and the election of municipal and school officials.

“Pathetic” is how Londonderry town moderator Cindi Rice Conley described the 13 percent turnout in her community.

At least Londonderry topped Derry, where a fractured and ineffective Town Council elicits plenty of complaints, but two open seats attracted a grand total of three candidates. Most residents there didn’t bother to vote. Just 6.3 percent of the town’s 20,108 registered voters made the effort. That means nearly 94 percent of the town’s registered voters didn’t care.

This is the town where someone lighting a cigarette in a municipal park draws fire from every corner. It’s the same place where road crews have taken a public beating this winter that rivals a drive down the continuous pothole that is Lane Road.

People aren’t afraid to speak their mind in Derry, as long as they can do it from the comfort of the couch or a sneaky texted comment from their cellphone. Ask them to exercise their constitutional right to vote and the excuses pile up faster than discarded campaign signs along Route 102.

While Derry bears the dubious distinction of the worst turnout across the region, some other towns weren’t far behind. Plaistow saw just 17 percent of its voters, Hampstead 27 percent. Gee, where were the school supporters in that community, where both a renovation project for the two local schools and the school budget went down in flames?

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