Tuesday March 20 was primary day in Illinois. The voter turnout was low, and election officials in Dupage County were mystified and baffled as to why that would be. In the largely Republican county of Dupage, the turnout was 26%, compared to the 44% in 2008. In Will County, the turnout was only 20%. One election commission director said, “I’m clueless as to why it was so low.” Another election official said, “It’s difficult to figure out what to do about the fact it is so low”.
Well how is this for an answer, ‘Don’t deny citizens the opportunity to vote’.
This is exactly what the city of Naperville did when it did now allow the citizens of Naperville to vote on a non-binding referendum regarding smart meters. In essence, the referendum would have asked citizens whether the city shall “immediately and permanently stop the implementation of the $22 million Smart Meter project and dismantle all related equipment”. 4,199 people signed petitions requesting the referendum to be allowed on the March ballot. It is likely thousands more would have taken the opportunity to vote on the issue. Hence, thousands of voters were denied the opportunity to vote because one person, I repeat one person said, “I don’t think I want it on the ballot”, and because of that one objection, the city of Naperville would not allow the non-binding referendum to be placed on the ballot. The Naperville city government was relieved and ecstatic that the hot topic was not on the ballot, since the voters would have undoubtedly approved the referendum by a landslide. Would this voter mandate have stopped the city from installing smart meters; absolutely not. Would it have been a major embarrassment to the Naperville city council and city manager Doug Krieger; absolutely yes.
The city of Naperville learned its lesson in 2010 when Naperville voters were allowed to vote on referendums for term limits and district (ward) representation. Voters approved both referendums by a landslide, to the chagrin of the city council and city manager.
The lesson the Naperville city council and city manager learned was, “Keep decisions out of the hands of the voters”
There is one vote the Naperville city council and city manager cannot stop citizens of Naperville from voting, and that vote is for the election or re-election of city council members. You can be sure that 4,199 voters will not be denied that vote, along with thousands of others. You can also be sure there will be new faces sitting at the dais when the next new city council convenes.