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  • Last modified 7 days ago (May 16, 2024)

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Protecting
our right to vote

All of us admire and support St. Luke Hospital and the dedicated people who serve on its hospital district board.

However, electing them without letting the public see a ballot in advance and requiring the public to vote at a meeting inconvenient to attend is a dangerously antiquated practice that runs counter to modern democracy.

Voting that more resembles a club election than it does a governmental one leaves our beloved district vulnerable to takeover by small groups who could silently organize to essentially stuff the ballot box.

All boards and commissions that can levy taxes need to have their officers and directors elected the way we do other people who run our cities, schools, counties, and state.

Most of them, after all, have at least as much influence over our taxes and our daily lives as do officials like the county’s register of deeds.

Whether we make advance voting easier may be controversial, but the notion of electing multiple officers at the same time, from a ballot well-publicized in advance, and allowing voters at least a full day to go to the polls is a system that has served our democracy well for 2½ centuries.

Hospital boards, recreation commissions, extension councils, and other groups need to elect their board members just as school districts, cities, and counties do.

State law allows them to change their bylaws so terms coincide with those of other officers. This means we could boost confidence in our democratic system by adding them to existing elections at no extra cost.

We need to give everyone who pays taxes or uses their services a chance to vote and to run for office instead of basically allowing staff to recruit their bosses.

The Record calls on voters to attend as many inconvenient meetings as possible and demand that all bodies take immediate steps to transition to a more democratic way of electing board members.

If they refuse, our state legislators should reaffirm their faith in elections and democracy by introducing laws forbidding tax-levying bodies to elect members at what seem more like private club meetings than they do democratic elections.

— ERIC MEYER

Last modified May 16, 2024

 

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