Did you vote?



Woody Allen’s observation that 80 percent of life is showing up may be a little broad in terms of life, but it’s about right when applied to town government.

Example: Eight months ago, voters at a special town meeting in Orland decided to continue sending municipal waste to the Penobscot Energy Recovery Co. (PERC) in Orrington. In so voting, Orland ended a 20-year waste disposal partnership with Bucksport.

The two next door neighbors have shared a transfer station but that’s about to end: Bucksport voters elected to ship the town’s waste to the Fiberight facility going up in Hampden. Result: Orland must build its own waste transfer station, which means obtaining permits, deciding whether to provide curbside trash pickup, and establishing policies for recycling, demolition debris and white goods. Also, nobody knows how much it will cost to build a transfer station.

Understandably, hands went up and citizens asked about reconsidering the vote taken last July to stick with PERC. A resident asked how many of the town’s voters participated in the July decision. Town Clerk Connie Brown replied that the meeting “was very poorly attended.”

Orland is by no means alone. The big decision/poor turnout phenomenon is a time-honored tradition. Down in Bar Harbor on April 5, 21 of the island’s 9,239 eligible voters came out to decide on the $10.5-million MDI High School budget. That’s a turnout of .22 percent. And of those 21, 18 were either School Board members or school employees.

You don’t need a crystal ball to predict grousing about the cost of education when the tax bills arrive in the mail on Mount Desert Island. But in Orland, MDI and throughout Hancock County, costly and controversial decisions will continue to be decided by a thin slice of those eligible to vote.

It’s worth showing up.