Daily Five: Voter Frustration and Kids Doing the Write Thing

Five things to know for Thursday, May 10, 2012.


1. What’s The Weather? Yesterday brought no rainbows, only rain, but today the sun promises to reappear after morning showers and bring temperatures up to 66 degrees. Weather.com is predicting a clear night with a low temperature of 47 degrees.  

2. What's Up With Voter Turnout? Members of Regional School District 13’s Board of Education couldn’t have been happier that voters for 2012-2013. There was, however, much discussion at last night’s meeting about and complaints about a lack of publicity in advance of the Referendum.

Certainly, there’s always room for improvement but Board members were hard pressed to think of what more they could do. The Board holds multiple meetings and public hearings on the budget, all of which are covered regularly by local media. Announcements about the referendum are posted on Regional School District 13’s web site well in advance, and notices reminding people to vote are sent home with students.

Although the onus is on the School District to make sure voters are informed about the Referendum, the towns also publicize the vote on their web sites and post announcements about the Referendum prominently on polling day. Notices are also posted on bulletin boards in public spaces and in Town Hall.

A summary of the school district budget, which has the Referendum date, voting times, and poll locations printed on the cover, are mailed to every home in Middlefield and Durham at least two weeks in advance of the vote. And just in case people missed all of that, there are signs urging people to vote on Main Street and outside polling places on Referendum day.

“I don’t know what else we’re supposed to do,” said Board of Education Chairman Thomas Hennick. “At some point, people have to take responsibility for themselves.”

Some people have suggested the polling site signs should be bigger but Planning and Zoning regulations impose strict size limits on all signage, specifically to ensure that signs in town are as unobtrusive as possible. Short of hiring a plane to sky-write the Referendum date, there doesn’t seem much more anyone can do to get the word out.

At the risk of stating the obvious, many complaints about a lack of publicity were heard by election officials at the polls, so obviously the people making them had managed to get wind of the Referendum somehow. The fact that referendums, at least for as long as any of the election Moderators could remember, have always been held the second Tuesday in May, no doubt helps.

In case anyone needs a handy way to remember the date, though, here’s my suggestion: School budget referendums are always held on the Tuesday before Mother’s Day. Mothers have children, children go school, and schools cost money. This year, Regional School District 13’s budget amounted to nearly $36 million. That seems like 36 million good reasons to mark your calendar next year.  

3. Local Students have the Write Stuff: The Shoreline Heads of English Departments is holding its 30th Annual Awards ceremony for student writers at 7:00 p.m. at Morgan High School in Clinton tonight and students from Coginchaug and H-K High Schools will be named among the winners! Check back with Patch tomorrow to find out what happened.

4. Looking for Something to Do Today? The opens at 3 p.m., offering fresh food and fun with a story time for kids. If you’re in the mood for something a bit more theatrical, will be presenting The Music Man tonight at 7 p.m. Don’t miss it!

5. This Day in History: On May 10, 1877, U.S. President Rutherford B.  Hayes had the first phone line connected in the White House. The phone number was “1.” A year later, Connecticut became the first state to set up a telephone exchange.


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