EDITORIAL: Scheduling dilemma a true lose-lose

Many years of discussion about elected offices in the Town of Bethlehem will come to a head in a few week’s time, as residents head to the polls to decide whether or not the office of the superintendent of highways will continue to exist beyond 2013.

It is right and proper (and lawful) that the public get a say in this matter – and with all the past talk about how voters might stomach such a proposal, we’re quite curious to see what the public actually thinks. All the same, there have been public objections to the particulars of the vote that have considerable merit.

Our front-page story on the matter has all the details. Bethlehem residents will be able to go to the polls Tuesday, April 30. Marcy Velte reports some residents had a bad reaction to the manner in which the vote will be carried out – at a single polling place, with paper ballots.

The reason for this, town officials said, is procedural. To open up all 21 polling places would be a complicated and costly affair, and to simplify things would have the result of disallowing absentee ballots, which have become something of a democratic cornerstone.

But there is an even cheaper option available: hold the referendum in conjunction with the November election.

The sole argument against waiting until November is that voters will be faced with having to make two juxtaposed choices: who will be the next superintendent and whether or not to abolish the office altogether. This is unorthodox, to be certain, but we suspect the average Bethlehem voter to by sly enough to reason it out.

The only losers under this scenario would be the small number of people who would needlessly run for highway superintendent should voters approve dissolving the office. We can live with that.

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