Blogs > Liberty and Power > Two votes could cost me a hundred grand.

Aug 30, 2007 3:36 pm

Two votes could cost me a hundred grand.

This anecdote is related to the voting issues raised on an August 20 post by Mark Brady. I'm writing it as an entry rather than a comment because it is tangential and because late comments are often overlooked.

My town recently had an election to fill a vacancy among the selectmen. Three selectmen make town policy -- there is no mayor -- so they have a lot of power. They especially have a lot of power right now because they are debating two moronic and extremely expensive proposals that will waste taxpayer money. (One is building a desalinization plant, although we are in New England and our occasional summer water shortages are addressed easily by restricting the watering of lawns. The other is to install sewerage in an already developed town in which, in my opinion, waste disposal is quite effectively handled by a private property septic approach.)

On to my main point. . . .

The election ended in a tie. After a non-controversial recount, Candidate X won by two votes (and I think he was the one who supported the cockamamie proposals mentioned above.) If my wife and I had voted, Candidate X would have lost. If X called for a recount, there would have been a tie, and then another election in which X might have lost (I'm sure the turnout would be higher!) If I could have convinced some of my non-voting neighbors to support Y in the first election, X would have lost and that would have been the end of it.

Supporters of the above proposals estimate the cost of the projects to each homeowner to be $20,000 and $40,000, respectively. One can safely assume that the actual cost will be two or three times that. (I live in the Big Dig state.) So my decision to ignore the election could end up costing me quite a bit.

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Keith Halderman - 8/30/2007

I have often thought that a concept which is somewhat overlooked by libertarians is the idea of devolution of government. The above tale is testimony to its potential for good. I also think that it could be a very effective vehicle for uniting left and right.