Was Town Meeting Turnout Less Than Usual This Year?

Here's a look at the turnout rates for voters at the Annual Town Meetings in Hamilton and Wenham versus previous years.

Voter turnout at Hamilton Town Meeting and Wenham Town Meeting this spring were in line with most town meetings in the past five years, according to data from the town clerk's in both towns.

Turnout has been around 5 or 6 percent for most town meetings, both special town meetings and annual town meeting, in Hamilton, according to data from Town Clerk Jane Wetson. This year it was 5 percent of the registered voters.

In Wenham, turnout this spring was in line with voter turnout for the past three years - somewhere between 7 and 9 percent, according to data from Town Clerk Trudy Reid. The exception is February's Special Town Meeting that was called to approve a legislative petition for a liquor license at .


Date Attendance Percentage May 2008 915 16 May 2008 (second night) 459 8 October 2008 198 3 May 2009 532 9 May 2009 (second night) 291 5 October 2009 517 9 May 2010 372 6 June 2010 192 3 October 2010 321 6 May 2011 354 6 October 2011 126 2 May 2012 296 5


Date Attendance Percentage May 2008 466 17 March 2009 90 4 May 2009 260 12 October 2009 201 9 November 2009 165 8 May 2010 233 8 May 2011 253 9 Novemeber 2011 190 7 February 2012 130 5 May 2012 187 7
Michelle Bailey May 23, 2012 at 12:50 AM
I give "one-issue" voters credit for at least showing up for something. I'm more concerned about those who never set foot in the door. Roughly 2/3 of the residents don't have school-aged children, so child care, little league, etc. is not an excuse for them...where are those 66% of the voters? Maybe voters don't believe they actually have a say. Everything usually passes anyway. Maybe the issues are too complex. People feel they can't really understand it and it's better left up to those that are elected. If you've never been to a town meeting, you don't understand why its important. How can we get more people involved?
Tracy May 24, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Agree that one-issue voters are much preferable to no-issue non-voters. And one-issue voters are more likely to become multi-issue voters over time. Don't judge them, welcome them.
Jennifer Flynn October 27, 2012 at 03:51 PM
I think it is the changing world we live in and I think as we age the changes are harder to accept but I do believe that these "town meetings" will evolve to a completely on line process. Then the numbers will increase. or that there will be a new method to get things on the ballot.....
Anne Sweeney October 27, 2012 at 05:36 PM
I agree with Jennifer 100%, putting the process on line would engage many more people who are busy. So when they get a chance to log on, they can have some positive input and vote . On line, is a process which would work also, as when people are away, out of state on business, at their jobs. They can log on, have a Town id and engage in the process from wherever they are in the country or throughout the world.
Anne Sweeney October 27, 2012 at 05:48 PM
The other reason why people do not attend Town Meeting is not due to a lack of interest. Speaking of Bullying as in the other thread. When people speak their mind or disagree, they are often booed, criticized or ostracized. Usually, town officials, town or local public employees attend these meetings, because it is in their interest to do so in two ways. Their job security, their promotion advantage, and to network with other town elected officials and appointed officials. Town government is a relic of the past and should be replaced with an elected City government. The cost of having two towns with two separate town governments, services and officials is redundant and unnecessary. When you consider the resources available from our private sector, town government in plain terms is inefficient, ineffective and not representative of the majority. Thereby undemocratic at best. Just consider our water quality, the towns of Hamilton and Wenham were offered an opportunity to tap into Wenham lake for a nominal fee. They opted out and Salem has our water ? Really ? The way to go is an elected City government. Otherwise the average Hamilton/Wenham tax bill will soon be, $10,000.00. You will no longer have to worry about our schools as only the rich will live here. The rich send their children to private schools, as they should.


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