Friday, February 11, 2011

Can We Afford Democracy?

The following was submitted as a Letter to the Editor to the Queen Anne's Record-Observer.

At their meeting on February 22, the Queen Anne’s County Commissioners will be considering ordnance 11-02, which changes the way commissioners who have vacated their office prior to the completion of their term will be replaced. Current law requires a special election, providing registered voters in Queen Anne’s County the opportunity to properly elect their representation in Centreville.

In the name of ‘fiscal responsibility,’ ordnance 11-02 turns good democracy on its head. It usurps the power of the people, and places that power with a small group of partisans whose names most voters wouldn’t recognize. Under ordnance 11-02, special elections would be eliminated, and instead the respective Central Committee would have the power to replace a vacant commissioners’ seat. In the 2010 elections, a scant 10% of the registered voters in Queen Anne’s County voted to elect members of the Central Committees; these should not be the people tasked with choosing our representation in Centreville.

What’s more, as of this writing, the Queen Anne’s County Board of Elections has no available estimate of what a special election might cost the county; which means that the commissioners are not aware of what it might save the county.

There are many programs and projects that our county could reduce or eliminate to save taxpayer dollars. But cutting elections to save money is an untenable and undemocratic idea that must be rejected.

Steven Kline lives in Centreville and serves on the Queen Anne’s County Task Force on Government Sustainability.

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