Prepare to Vote

Election Day is March 12. In the days between now and then, we hope you’ll listen to candidates speak, read their words, and ask them about the issues that concern you.

The March election has no state or national candidates, and that’s traditionally bad news for voter turnout. We remind you, however, that your vote has far more impact on local government races than it ever will on the state or federal level.

Equally important are the warrant articles on the town and school ballots – whether it’s the school budget or a request for a new police station, funding for roadwork or for protecting wetlands. Town and school requests should be handled the way you handle your checkbook – can you afford it? Is it a necessity or a luxury? Is it something you can put off, or is that a false economy that will cost much more later on?

If you don’t understand what you’re being asked to approve, seek the answer. The right to vote is important, but it carries with it the responsibility of understanding the issues. It shouldn’t sway your vote that the budget committee – or your neighbor – favors or dislikes a warrant article or candidate. Consider the source.

We’ve asked candidates why they’re seeking office. We’ve also reviewed warrant articles, and will do so again next week. Here are a few pointers: On a bond, pay attention to the financial obligation imposed for each year of the bond. The money will come out of your pocket for the life of the bond.

How about a union contract? If it covers just one year, its costs are likely to be clear. But most contracts are for two to four years. Make sure you understand the costs attached to each additional year you won’t be asked to vote on it in future years, but the money will be added to the overall budget and will be part of your tax bill.

And money isn’t everything. Does the contract take into consideration the economic downturn? Are workers paying more of their insurance these days? Get the full picture. Because the choice is yours. Each article has pros and cons, and it pays to listen to both sides.

Many people like to pride themselves on their patriotism. There’s not a much better way to express your patriotism than by heading to the polls and making informed choices. So for your own good and the good of the community, please vote March 12.

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