Exit Voices: Polling the voters post-booth
Stephanie Hainley, Kristen Staley, Clarence Davis (City Council, P-Ward 3) and Vince Brennan (School Board member), Burlington
Barack or Hillary? Approve the city budget or vote it down? Demolish the Moran plant or develop it? By the time you read this, we’ll know what the voters chose. Unfortunately, Seven Days goes to press before the polls close. So we can’t announce the results of this exciting election.
Peter Freyne is on vacation this week, so instead of his regular political coverage, we present a selection of election-related commentary from the Exit Voices blog, http://www.vermontcam.org/exitvoices.
Exit Voices is a nonpartisan community blog sponsored by the three Burlington-area cable access stations — channels 15, 16 and 17 — Vermont Community Access Media (VCAM), the Regional Educational Technology Network (RETN), and the CCTV Center for Media and Democracy, respectively.
The blog is an online forum where Vermonters of all political stripes share opinions and anecdotes about the democratic process. During the last two elections, the conversation has been pretty lively. It’s moderated by Bill Simmon, a blogger, filmmaker and production manager for VCAM.
In an “Open Thread” post on Tuesday morning, Simmon invited readers to respond to the following questions:
1. What motivates you to go to your town meeting or polling station and vote?
2. If you could add a comment on your Ballot for your elected officials to read, what would you say?
Alternately, tell us what you said at your Town Meeting, why you refused to vote, or what makes you crazy about our system of democracy.We can’t vouch for the accuracy of these responses, but we think they’re worth sharing.
What was on my mind when I voted? I’m really freaking tired. It was two years ago that I started writing about Barack Obama — when he came in 2006 to campaign for Bernie and Peter Welch — and almost a year and a half ago that I started covering the primaries on a daily basis. Eighteen months of back and forth, rumors and announcements, rallies, fundraisers, door knocking, candidates threatening to drop in and candidates forced to drop out. And when all was said and done this morning, I took my 8-year-old daughter to the polls and watched her black in the ovals for me, because I was too tired to do it myself. Still, there was something therapeutic about watching her make spots on various parts of the ballot, something calming and primitive. Like occupational therapy, for people who’ve spent a little too much time in the trenches.
Philip Baruth, Burlington
Baruth is a writer and UVM English professor who publishes the liberal political blog Vermont Daily Briefing.
I love Town Meeting Day. I never realized how unique it was until I was a student at UVM and the out-of-state students would always ask me what it was. I had always thought that everyone had Town Meeting Day.
I love being able to vote directly on issues. Even though the things we vote on are not as sexy as the issues we consider in a national election, I always find this to be the most exciting ballot I cast.
Charity Tensel, Burlington
Tensel is a housewife and home-schooling mom who publishes the conservative political blog She’s Right.
If you’re voting in Montpelier (no Town Meeting, just ballots) allow LOTS of time. Especially if you’re in District 3, which includes a huge chunk of the rental units in town, as there are a lot of first-time voters who are having trouble with their registration. Add that onto the huge turnout, and it’s trouble. I was there at a slow time, and there was a long line. God help you if you come at the 5-6 p.m. time frame.
John Odum, Montpelier
Odum founded the Democratic group blog Green Mountain Daily.
I’m an “Inspector of Elections” for Ward 3 in Burlington at Lawrence Barnes School. This afternoon four women came to vote — Irma Rodriguez (77), Delphine Hamlin (87), first-time voter Diane Trayah (66), and Betty Grady (84). I took their picture after they voted. The only other time Diane wanted to vote was for JFK back in 1960, but couldn’t because she was in the hospital. All four of them voted for Hillary and were proud of it.
I thought it was a great story.
Bob Bolyard, Burlington
Since I have the right and freedom to vote, I make sure to exercise it, even when it seems my vote might not really matter. Especially when I am constantly told by some political party loyalist or operative that my vote is wasted because I am not voting for either of the top major party candidates most likely to win.
[To answer question number 2] Do something real and meaningful this year about creating affordable housing for Vermont-ers across the state — both for the short as well as long term; and I mean real housing, not “transitional” housing or more homeless shelters, either.
While it is true the economy is tough right now, this is the exact time to do something, because it will only get worse.
Quit making excuses and passing the political football around, and that goes for everyone.
Morgan W. Brown, Montpelier
Brown writes about homelessness and mental health issues on his blog Norsehorse’s Home Turf.
I’ve voted by Australian ballot in every Town Meeting since I returned to Vermont after college, but last night was my first traditional meeting in Shelburne. Even though I’ve covered every variety of meeting for Channel 17 over the years, I felt like a total newbie. When we checked in we were given a little blue piece of paper. I thought it was just a courtesy in case I wanted to jot down some notes. It turns out you are to hold it up when it’s time to vote — I didn’t find mine in time for the first vote. After holding up the blue paper for the third time in a row, my partner commented, “This is fun, I feel like I’m in kindergarten.” I have to agree, it was fun.
One of the contentious issues in Shelburne is a $1.1 million bond vote for some bike paths and sidewalks. I’ve been reading about it for a while and was supportive until recently, when it was revealed the plan included another sidewalk on Harbor Road that will go through my back yard. I never thought I would be a NIMBY person, but I have to admit that was my first reaction.
Jess Wilson, Shelburne
Wilson is a producer for CCTV, Channel 17.
This isn’t any old race. It’s an historic event.
It’s quite likely that the outcome of this race will decide whether the Oval Office is inhabited by somebody — anybody — other than another graying white man. Unless, of course, something terribly unlikely occurs and John McCain is elected, presumably for the sole purpose of perpetuating the graying-white-male winning streak, as it seems he has little else to offer.
Doug Cadmus, Waterbury
Cadmus serves commentary about coffee at Bloggle.com.
A few thoughts on Arlington’s town meeting: The majority of the questions were very sharp and appropriate. My impression is the people in attendance are very well aware of their town’s needs and their limitations in resources.
I was also very impressed with Arlington’s elected officials, who have generally kept very closely to their budget even in the midst of some unexpected expenses over the past year.
For the Arlington officials: Keep up the good work and don’t settle for less. You’re on the right track.
Ed Cyzewski, Arlington
Cyzewski writes about contemporary culture and Christianity on his blog In a Mirror Dimly.
What a joy to walk our kids to our Burlington Ward 5 polling place this morning. We saw lots of neighbors along the way, and many of them were staffing the election. Always nice to see a number of the candidates themselves outside the venue.
After voting, I was asked to complete an exit survey sponsored by several national news outlets. I left several questions blank because I didn’t like any of the answers . . . utterly leading questions. If my thinking didn’t fit the media’s 3 or 4 options, then it must not matter. The more I think about it, the more ludicrous it seems.
Michael Wood-Lewis, Burlington
Wood-Lewis runs the neighborhood email newsletter service Front Porch Forum.
Just finished up Northfield Town Meeting. My son’s first town meeting day (he’s just 5 months old)! Felt great giving him a front-row seat to democracy in action.
Most items passed without much debate. The exception? A proposal to establish a $500 fund for picnic tables at recreational areas in town. Small-town democracy at its finest!
I was particularly pleased that the town voted in favor of establishing a conservation commission, something a small, dedicated band has worked on for about a year now.
Rep. Anne Donahue was there . . . so was Sen. Bill Doyle. Didn’t see any other political glitterati, however.
I was pleased to see most members of our Democratic Town Committee were present for the meeting.
Wonder how much a meaningful, contested primary this year boosted town meeting attendance.
Christopher Curtis, Northfield
Curtis publishes the left-leaning blog Mulish Behavior.
Check out the rest of the responses — and see CCTV’s video interviews with real, live voters — at http://www.vermont cam.org/exitvoices.
Peter Freyne will be back next week.