Op/Ed

Letter to the editor: Act 46 penalizes smaller towns

Act 46 is flawed, deceptive legislation that should be repealed. Act 46 consolidation is being carried out in the Addison Central School District as a process of disempowering and disenfranchising the small towns of the district. Rather than each town electing its own director to the board, at-large voting has been imposed in order to meet what is interpreted as a constitutional mandate for proportional representation. This voting system, rather than achieving proportional representation, strikes at the essence of the small towns.
Middlebury, with its overwhelming majority in voting numbers, can secure an increasing majority of directors on the board who can, without opposition, enact policies, incur debts and approve expenditures that favor the interests of Middlebury over the smaller towns of the district.
In the Addison Central School District, at-large voting is synonymous with tyranny of the majority, in which the majority of an electorate pursues exclusively its own interests at the expense of those in the minority. Consider the number of registered voters per town in the ACSD:
Middlebury ………… 5,220
Ripton ………………… 421
Weybridge ……………. 726
Shoreham …………….. 852
Salisbury ……………… 906
Bridport ………………. 910
Cornwall ……………… 983
Small towns  total…. 4,798
Middlebury has over 4,000 more registered voters than each outlying town, and Middlebury has 422 more voters than all of the outlying towns’ collective voters. These numbers mean that, given a contest between two or more candidates for the single board seat of any outlying town, Middlebury voters could easily elect the candidate more disposed to Middlebury’s interests. Because of this overwhelming advantage in voting numbers, it is possible that, with at-large voting in place, Middlebury could in fact take 100% control of the ACSD Board. Attempts by the voters of the district to democratize the voting system and relegate more power to the small towns have been vetoed by the board.
Therefore, I make this appeal to our Statehouse delegation to allow us to reclaim our local democracy with the repeal of Act 46.
Millard Cox
Ripton

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