LEBANON, Maine - It may have been the lowest voter turnout in decades.
In fact, just 97 Lebanon residents turned out to vote at Lebanon Elementary School on Feb. 20, a Wednesday, to make the decision to stagger the terms of two new selectmen to the town's three-member board.
To handle the expected crowds the town spent $1,611.26 for nine poll workers plus another $161.90 for two meals for each one.
That's a cost of more than $18 per vote.
Town officials may have thought a lot more people would come out and vote between 6 a.m. and 8 p.m. on a cold February day during a school vacation week and they would need all the help they could muster.
They were wrong.
The vote totals show an average of seven people an hour cast ballots at LES.
The final vote was 104 to stagger the terms, with 32 voting to have both new selectmen installed to three-year terms. Some 40 residents, looking to avoid the rush, voted by absentee ballot.
The reasoning behind the selectmen's decision to have a Special Election instead of just invoking home rule privilege to implement the new board on a staggered basis has never been fully explained that this reader can find.
Maybe they thought they'd be challenged in Superior Court. Maybe they thought someone would file an injunction. Who really knows what they were thinking.
What selectmen finally did say in a Feb. 15 email bulletin was that a "no" vote would not reverse the November outcome, which many residents had thought was the case, which is why Selectperson Laura Bragg argued that the email bulletin should go out during a Feb. 14 selectmen's meeting.
By the way, the state's Home Rule provision notes that "It's the right of a town or city to enact laws that are municipal in nature and that do not frustrate or run counter to a state law and/or which the state has not prohibited it from passing."