There is often controversy surrounding the degree of influence of the recommendations of the Board of Selectmen and the Budget Committee, and how those opinions align with the “yellow sheet” published by the Rational Taxpayers of Hampton. One of the surprising findings of a recent study is that, despite the angst that goes along with these recommendations, the Budget Committee agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 81% of the Articles and the Rational Taxpayers of Hampton agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 71% of the Articles. Two-thirds of the Articles had the same point of view from all three groups, representing 101 out of 154 Articles over the 5-year period. Not surprisingly, the outcome of the vote was in line with the recommendations in virtually all cases where there was across-the-board agreement
For the roughly one-third of the Articles where there was disagreement among the recommending bodies, the voters agreed with the Board of Selectmen on 41% of the Articles, with the Budget Committee on 56% and with RTOH on 54%. The conclusion is that the voters do study these declarations by other bodies but, true to New Hampshire independence, they make their own choices after weighing all the available information. No one group dictates results at the polls.
- The Deliberative Session has historically been the one place where voters can get comprehensive information for all of the Articles that will be on the ballot. However, this “first session” of Town Meeting is poorly attended, with only about 100 people attending out of a range of about 2500-3500 people who cast a vote.
- Other sources of information can be influential, including presentations by department heads and dedicated efforts by proponents of petitioned Articles. However, this information is sporadic. Voters cannot count on finding information on all Warrant Articles via this type of input.
There are interesting statistics in the study itself not presented in this summary. Click here for a peek at the full report.