Low turnout prompts Minot officials to consider voting at the polls

Mar. 7—MINOT — With a low turnout at annual town meetings the past few years, officials Monday discussed whether to vote on warrant articles at the polls instead of an in-person meeting.

Twenty-five people attended Saturday's annual meeting, likely due to a major snowstorm, Town Administrator Danielle Loring said Tuesday.

The past couple of years, it has drawn between 30 and 40 voters, which officials have attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic.

U.S Census numbers from 2020 put the town's population at 2,766.

Although in-person meetings have taken place for centuries, Loring said the declining numbers may signal a trend.

She said lower attendance might reflect a change "in the way people engage with their government and their community ... but we're working on ways that we can increase participation and let the newer generations know that we want them to be involved."

The annual Town Meeting will be held as usual in 2024, but will be reevaluated on whether it should be put to a vote on switching to balloting at the polls, she said.

Loring said Tuesday that town staff and selectmen support the in-person meeting because "it is an effective form of communication and engagement, but the decision to continue this form of government is ultimately up to the voters."

Also on Monday, officials reviewed Maine's Freedom of Access Act in keeping with their efforts at transparency and allowing legal public access to town documents.

David Gilpatric was reelected chairman of the Board of Selectmen and Liza Cesare was reelected vice chairwoman.