Archive for Thursday, December 22, 2005

However you vote, just be sure and do it

December 22, 2005

There will be plenty of interest around the area, if not the state, regarding the outcome of today's election in Baldwin City to determine whether the sale of alcohol in package form will be allowed on Sundays here.

It's not that non Baldwin residents care one way or another whether alcohol is sold here or not on any day. The interest will be on how voters respond. Is an election in December a good idea? No, probably not.

December means holidays, pure and simple. To schedule an election around Christmas time, when people are either busy or gone or even both just doesn't make sense. But, that's one of many oddities with this election that some people don't understand.

The Baldwin City Council didn't have a choice to set the election at a "normal" time. Yes, it would have made more sense to schedule it in conjunction with a regular election.

That option wasn't open.

The council approved Sunday sales in September. It couldn't happen until a 60-day protest period was over. As promised, a group opposing Sunday sales passed petitions around Baldwin and came up with the necessary 85 valid signatures to force a vote on the council's action.

That petition was filed with the Douglas County Clerk and was determined valid on Nov. 17. By statute, the election had to be held within 45 days, which meant by Jan. 1. So, as the lesser of many evils, the council chose today, Dec. 22, for the vote.

That sent everyone involved with the election scrambling. It also meant that many people simply won't vote. They may not know about the election, they may be gone or simply don't have the time as they rush around to meet the Christmas deadline with last-minute shopping, wrapping, cooking, going to endless parties, programs and the like.

And, then there are those brave souls that will find their way to the voting booth only to find a ballot as confusing as the whole mess. Because the ballot is based on the protest petition, in essence against the council's action, it is written in a way that goes against that action. Here's the question:

"Shall the following be adopted: Within the city of Baldwin City, shall sale at retail of cereal malt beverage in the original package be prohibited on Sunday and shall the sale at retail of alcoholic liquor in the original package be prohibited on Sunday, Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day?"

Election officials fear the wording will confuse people. For those against alcohol sales on Sunday, the tendency is to vote no. The same holds true for those favoring Sunday sales to vote yes.

In both cases, the voter would be wrong.

Election officials have tried to make it clear and we'll try to help again. If you're against the sale of alcohol in Baldwin on Sundays, vote yes. If you're for Sunday sales, vote no. It may sound odd, but that's the way it is.

We won't tell you how to vote. That's a decision left with the individual. What we will tell you is go out and vote.

Make Baldwin proud while others are watching.

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