To the Editor: No voter guide provided

To the Editor:

Not long ago, I attended a panel discussion sponsored by the League of Women Voters on the importance of local newspapers in maintaining responsive, democratic local governments. Evidence was presented that in communities where the local newspaper had gone out of business, towns and cities became markedly less responsive to their citizens. Without local journalists monitoring town meetings and reporting on them, representatives found it easier to circumvent democratic processes and conditions became conducive to governmental corruption. Liz Graves was a member of the panel and spoke passionately about the important mission of small town newspapers.

Typically, local newspapers publish a voter guide just before an election, often with a sample ballot. The issue of the Islander that came out the week before the Nov. 5 election contained no such guide. In fact, I could find no mention at all of the upcoming election. While there had been coverage previously of the vacation rental issue and the state bond issue proposals, there was nothing to guide voters as to the precise nature of the questions on the local ballot. This was particularly distressing because the ballot questions themselves were so vaguely worded that it was impossible to know exactly what the propositions to be voted on were (That is a different issue, to be raised with the Town Council.)

I try to be an informed voter, but I thought I had simply failed to discover the appropriate material. In talking with many people about this, however, I find that their experiences matched mine. If there were any clues in the Islander about the upcoming election, I was not alone in missing them. Moreover, the low turnout in the last election might have been due, in part, to a lack of public information.

I hope the Islander will strive to inform voters more carefully about future elections. We need a local newspaper: one that provides an essential safeguard for our local democratic process.

Dixie Hathaway

Bar Harbor

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