To the Editor:
On September 10 Oxford will host its first municipal primary in eight years. Although some have remarked that they believe the primary process to be unusual or unnecessary, municipal primaries are a standard part of our democratic process and were fairly commonplace in Oxford until recently.
First Selectman George Temple faced one in 2011 when he first sought office. The Republican Party also held primaries for the first selectman nomination in 2007 and 2003 and the Democratic Party even held one in 2001 for Planning and Zoning nominees.
The turnout for a municipal primary is similar to the turnout for a general election, in the realm of 31 to 37 percent. Comparatively, barely 5 percent of Oxford’s registered Democrats turned out for the caucus on July 23.
There are several reasons for this. Some people, especially those in retail or service jobs, are scheduled to work in the evening. Elderly or physically disabled voters often have issues arranging transportation to nighttime meetings.
Parents of small children are faced with the prospect of finding and paying for childcare or possibly being turned away at the door because their children “aren’t registered voters,” as some would-be attendees reported experiencing at this year’s caucus.
The caucus is an important step in the process, but it is by no means the final one. The fact that Oxford will be holding a primary in which polls will be open for 14 hours, giving many more residents a chance to exercise their right to vote, should be cause for celebration.
I look forward to supporting the Hellman-Haney ticket at the primary on September 10 and I hope that the rest of the Democrats in Oxford will join me in casting their votes for their chosen candidates as well.