Voters must speak and be heard by elected officials

Frankford will hold its annual town council election this Saturday, Feb. 7, from 1 to 4 p.m. at town hall. Or maybe it won’t.

As of Coastal Point press time on Wednesday, the jury — or, more accurately, Election Commissioner Elaine Manlove — was out as to whether the Town has set the election date and voter requirements correctly for this year’s election, after a charter change revised the entire process a few years ago but didn’t specify some important details, such as the election date and whether absentee voting is permitted.

The Town moved ahead with setting a date and deciding not to permit absentee voting, but questions linger as to whether any of those decisions was proper, along with persistent questions about the voting rights of some residents, which this year has expanded to include whether U.S. citizenship is a requirement for a vote in Frankford. (You may be surprised to hear, but it’s not a requirement in every municipality in the state and wasn’t in Frankford until recently.)

All of these issues have led to questions as to whether voter and candidate eligibility rules have been applied fairly, evenly and across the board, without consideration for the voters’ likely choice at the ballot box. And that’s a problem. Even if it’s only the appearance of unfairness or impropriety, not following the same rules for everyone makes the whole process seem at least potentially unfair.

Some residents believe that is the case in Frankford, and they’ve challenged some of this year’s election process, which could postpone the election from Feb. 7 if Manlove decides in their favor. (We’ll keep you updated on that on our website and social media accounts.)

But the entire controversy is yet another reminder of how important the voters’ voice is in our system, whether on a national or local scale. Our elected officials decide everything from how much our utilities cost and how much our taxes are to how many police officers protect us and whether streets get repaved and parks get kept clean.

We owe it to ourselves and our neighbors to ensure that if we are eligible to vote, we do so, and as informed voters. And our elected officials owe it to all of their constituents to really listen to the voters and put the welfare of all residents at the forefront of their concerns.