The idea of democracy dates back to ancient Greece where every citizen in a community would vote on every big decision to be made. Though this model has long outlived its usefulness, our current system maintains the spirit of the public having a direct say in government.
The U.S., for the most part, is a republican form of government. We elect our public officials and then they are responsible for representing us in decision making processes.
In some cases, a referendum will be placed on the ballot, so that the public is given the chance to approve or disapprove of a particularly important measure.
In theory, the more chances for residents of a community to have their voices heard via a vote, the better the government can be “for the people,” but is there such a thing as too much?
By the end of the calendar year some folks in the Skaneateles area will have had five total chances to step into a booth and officially voice their opinion. The November election and the school district budget referendum happen every year. Village residents also vote on village officers every year and the school district will have held two additional public votes on capital projects by the end of the year.
While a subset of activists and concerned citizens exists in Skaneateles that will no doubt vote every time, how likely is it that the average person will be compelled enough to learn about the issues at hand and go vote all four (or five) times?
Nationwide, voter registration and voter participation have been less than ideal in recent history and it isn’t unreasonable to think that even a frequent voter would be uninterested in voting five times a year.
The system already accommodates local municipalities by setting off years in the state and federal cycles, so that important local races don’t get lost in clutter of bigger campaigns in the fall. While the village, town and school board all holding votes separately allows each to get a bigger share of the media spotlight, it also costs more money and asks more of the local populace.