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Thoughts on Sheffield Vote

The Burlington Free Press (VT)|David R. Zimmerman, Sheffield|December 10, 2005
VermontGeneral

Given these irregularities, it is not at all surprising that the pro votes won. But under fairer circumstances, the count might have been different.


Reflecting on the outcome of Sheffield's recent Special Town Meeting and nonbinding vote on wind towers -- 120 for, 93 against -- there are a few factors that should be borne in mind:


When Ridge Protectors was formed five months ago to fight UPC Wind's presence, our town clerk was quoted (in the Barton Chronicle) as saying that only 4 percent of residents strongly opposed the project.
In fact, the opposition vote last week was more than 10 times higher: 43 percent. That's prodigious progress -- which no doubt will continue.

The Special Town Meeting was warned only as a vote, not as still another "informational" meeting for UPC to peddle its wares. Astonishingly, however, Sheffieldians arriving at Miller's Run School were greeted by a table full of UPC handouts, and a dozen UPC people setting up a pro-wind movie and other exhibits. Their presentation was ruled out of order. But their presence in the auditorium was as though voters arrived to vote in a general election, and discovered one of the political parties electioneering inside the polling place. This would be against the law, and UPC's presence last Thursday was against the spirit, if not the rules that govern Vermont Special Town Meetings. True to the spirit of these rules, Ridge Protectors did not electioneer at the polls.

UPC's presence was approved by Sheffield's town fathers and mothers. Under ordinary circumstances, town officials (and everyone else) are forbidden to show favor to one side or the other at the polls. But our town officials left little doubt in voters' minds that they strongly favor UPC.

Given these irregularities, it is not at all surprising that the pro votes won. But under fairer circumstances, the count might have been different.

Source:http://www.burlingtonfreepresā€¦

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