To the Editor:
Voters at Tisbury annual town meeting will have an opportunity to change the town bylaw that mandates that articles be taken up at random — think of bingo without the fun or prizes — in favor of taking up articles in the order that they appear on the warrant.
Now, voters wait for the the moderator to pick a number and announce the article, then they shuffle through the pages of the warrant to become familiar with the requested action. A voter who wishes to speak to an article, instead of having a few moments to collect his or her thoughts in anticipation of stepping to the microphone, must seize the moment. The constant stops and starts extend town meeting, which ultimately discourages voter attendance. Taking up warrant articles in sequence would provide a rhythm and pace to the business at hand.
Town officials explain that the practice of keeping voters guessing — unique to Tisbury — was put in place to maintain a quorum. The measure was approved in 1991 by voters, no doubt still numb from the 1990 annual, which took six nights spread over five weeks to conclude (May 1, 2, 3, 7, 14, and June 5 — yikes!).
Hot-button issues, such as the new school, will always increase attendance by single-issue voters. If some voters choose to leave town meeting once action is taken, knowing there is still work to be done, that is each citizen’s choice to make. A gimmick should not be the method to keep them in their seats.
Aquinnah, Chilmark, West Tisbury, Edgartown, and Oak Bluffs have no shortage of important issues. Certainly, Tisbury voters are as responsible and as intelligent as those in neighboring Island towns. Please vote yes on article 40 — whenever it may come up for discussion. No need to shout “Bingo!”