I moved to Plymouth in early 2020 and immediately started participating in town elections. I voted but I did not spend as much time as I do now watching PACTV replays or reading committee meeting minutes. At the time, in-person voting was a no-brainer, I drove 4 minutes down the road to PCIS and cast my ballot. After a few election cycles in this sweet spot, my wife and I headed to the polls again but this time we were told that precinct 10 had moved voting locations, all the way across town to Federal Furnace Elementary school. At the time, I didn’t know much about the re-drawing of precinct boundaries that took place in this interim time.

If you are a bird, this doesn’t look like a big deal. Through the forest it is about 3 miles as the crow files, but in reality, getting to this polling site is a 9.4-mile drive if you want to take paved roads, or 8 if you want to take a dirt path down Drew Road. Thankfully, no-questions-asked mail-in ballots are now an option. I don’t need to plan out a 1-hour trip with the kids to cast a ballot. However, at the end of the day, my scenario is not the problem. I am going to vote no matter what but think about the other residents of this town. If you believe that someone who is not interested in local politics is going to make the same 10-mile drive to vote on a single contested Planning Board race, keep dreaming!

The other unfortunate result of our current precinct maps is the mixture of hotly contested Town Meeting member races in some precincts while others have zero candidates on the ballot. Look at Precinct 17, where Jason Fernald received 229 votes and lost while Justin Fosdick and Thomas Conley received 4 and 2 write-in votes respectively in Precinct 11 and they both won a seat in town meeting. Even more interesting is the hotly contested Precinct 18 1-year term race where Eugene Blanchard took the podium with 5 write-in votes in a hotly contested 5-person write in free-for-all.

We need to take a step back here. If someone is able to get 200-plus citizens willing to support them in a town election they should be the ones sitting in Town Meeting over write-in candidates with 2 votes. (No offense to Mr. Conley – congratulations on your victory!)

It’s easy to see that oversights were made in the re-drawing of precincts but that is easy for me to say behind a keyboard a few years later, when I did not participate in the process. As a member of Advisory and Finance Committee, I understand that when you get about a dozen people in a room to make decisions you can arrive at interesting conclusions that you didn’t expect coming into it. But I sit here with a bit of hope that maybe we can think of something that actually works down the line. What if instead of Mr. Fernald sitting on the sideline this year, he could be filling seats in other precincts as an at-large Town Meeting member? Something to think about as you take the next trek through the forest to get to your local polling station.

Daniel Green

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