At last Thursday’s Selectmen’s meeting, some numbers were thrown out to try to discredit my belief in the results of the Tocag survey. That day in a letter to the paper I had made the point that an election and a referendum are two different things. In an election, people are asked to make a choice. In the case of the two major BMH restoration articles in 2008 and 2011, it was a choice between doing what the Selectmen proposed and doing nothing.
Proponents keep throwing out the numbers that chose restoration, as if that’s what all of those voters prefer to do. If that’s the case, then why did they find it necessary to zero out the other choices at the deliberative session? You can’t have it both ways. If you say that other choices on the ballot would have diminished the prospects of your article passing, you can’t then say all of the votes that you receive represent the preference of those that vote for it.
The Tocag survey, on the other hand, wasn’t an election. It was a referendum, or poll. We simply asked if you approved, were neutral, or disapproved of each of the five options. That’s where the disapproval for restoration was huge – 59%. That doesn’t mean that someone who disapproves wouldn’t chose it over nothing in the interest of moving the town forward. It might just mean that they will hold their nose while going along with it.