Supreme Court affirms dismissal of Waldoboro voter method lawsuit
Waldoboro — The Maine Supreme Judicial Court on Aug. 16 sided with the town of Waldoboro and agreed that a ballot question that voters approved in 2008 did not create an ordinance to require all future elections be held by secret ballot referendum voting at the polls.
Plaintiff Dennis Blanchet argued that the voting ordinance should be allowed under the town’s municipal home rule authority. He and several other Waldoboro residents appealed to the Supreme Court after the Lincoln County Superior Court dismissed the case in November 2011.
“Contrary to Blanchet’s contention, the trial court did not err when it determined that the municipal voting process is controlled by the provisions in Titles 21-A and 30-A unless a town charter provides for a different method,” the Supreme Court said.
Waldoboro does not have a charter. Those titles in state law allow selectmen to call elections by secret ballot referendum voting at the polls and by traditional open town meeting.
The lawsuit was filed in July 2011. A month earlier, Waldoboro residents rejected eight appropriations articles (including office of town manager, police, assessing, planning and development, and recreation) when they voted on the town warrant at the polls. The Board of Selectmen then called for a special open town meeting, and those articles ultimately passed in the traditional open town meeting format.
Blanchet said he was disappointed with the ruling. He said he wanted everyone who was “taxed unjustly to get their taxes back.”
“I feel bad that the town office was able to tax people above what they agreed to be taxed at,” Blanchet said.
Waldoboro Town Manager John Spear said the ruling made it clear that it was “advisory in nature” when residents voted in November 2008 to conduct future town business by referendum voting at the polls.
Selectmen can call an election by traditional open town meeting or in a referendum at the polls.
Waldoboro residents will vote at the polls on Sept. 11 when they consider the YMCA proposal to build a recreation facility at A.D. Gray, along with budget questions relating to a few articles that failed at the polls in June.