So Newton’s Elections Commission has decided it would be too expensive and difficult to hold a special election to fill the Board of Alderman vacancy created by the death of Alderman Carleton Merrill.
“The population — I don’t think they’ll want it,” Peter Koutoujian, Sr. [the interim executive secretary for the Elections Commission, told Wicked Local’s Chloe Gotsis.] “They’re tired of elections.”
Koutoujian added that canceling the special citywide election for alderman would save approximately $30,000 and “a lot of grief.”
Koutoujian and our three election commissioners are probably right: people are “tired” of elections. And this will be expensive and a hassle. Our remaining 23 aldermen will probably agree too and send the request off to Beacon Hill for approval.
Heck, under the circumstances, I think this makes sense too.
But it bothers me that I feel this way. Koutoujian’s quotes are, honest, yet unsettling. Nothing should be more important in a democracy than open elections. The rules we’ve created for elections shouldn’t be changed because people are “tired” of voting or because holding an election is expensive or causes “grief.”
If our election rules need to be changed, that’s what a charter review is for. Fiddling with the rules due to exhaustion, expense or even the reality that our city can manage just fine with 23 alderman are the wrong reasons for not doing this.