Dismal turnout at the polls, Dargan and Harragan win

A whole lot of empty booths at Trottier (precinct 2)
There were a whole lot of empty booths at Trottier (precinct 2) on Monday afternoon

Only 397 Southborough residents showed up to vote in Monday’s town election. That’s a 6% turnout. Ouch.

It should come as no surprise that all the unopposed incumbents won their races. In the contested race for the two Southborough seats on the regional school committee, Susan Dargan and Kathleen Harragan won with 694 and 760 votes, respectively. The third candidate, David Rueger got 577 votes.

Wondering how the regional school committee candidates got more votes than there were voters? That’s because  — for reasons that are entirely unclear to me — Northborough voters also get a say in who wins the Southborough seats, and vice versa. Looking at Southborough voters only, Dargan and Harragan each got 279 votes while Rueger got 136.

Southborough Precinct 3 was the best represented (‘best’ being a relative term) with 7% (145) of their voters turning out, followed by Precinct 1 wtih 6% (142), and Precinct 2 with 5% (110).

You can view the complete results in PDF form here.

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Kelly Roney
14 years ago

Southborough and Northborough used to elect 5 members each to the Regional School Committee, but sometime around 20 years ago the Supreme Court ruled that that arrangement violated one person one vote (sort of like the U.S. Senate!). That’s true enough; under the old arrangement, a single Northborough voter had less representation than a Southborough voter simply because there were more Northborough voters spread among the 5 members.

If I recall correctly, there were two possible remedies:
– proportional membership
– at large voting in the entire district

Southborough wasn’t keen to be a permanent minority on the board, so district-wide voting was the solution.

From talking with Jim Denman and Bill Boland at the polls, apparently Assabet’s Regional Committee has been in violation the whole time but is about to comply by the same means, which means we may be voting soon on candidates from all the towns in that large district (and, oh yeah, Marlborough, too, and it’s legally a city).

Marnie Hoolahan
14 years ago

Wow! Not only was the voting turn-out an embarassment but most of the ballot was uncontested. I am not sure how to get our community involved.

We see decreasing rates of attendance at the Town Meeting each year and the voting booths. I joked with the women at the polls yesterday and suggested that perhaps we could get the soccer or baseball leagues to help coordinate the politics in town since they have no problem drawing an audience from my peer group! Thanks for keeping us posted Susan!

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