Topsham now bans both the sale and use of fireworks as a result of the July 12 referendum. This is despite the fact that 54 percent voted to allow the sale of fireworks and 56 percent voted to allow their use. So why was the result a total ban? Because of the asinine way the referendum was designed.
Those favoring the sale or use of fireworks had to choose between two confusing options: one to enact a town zoning ordinance to determine where fireworks would be allowed and one to allow them with no restrictions other than those in state law. Those favoring fireworks were, of course, split between the two options, neither of which received enough votes to defeat the minority who voted to ban them. Of the 54 percent favoring the sale, 36 percent voted for minimal restrictions and 18 percent voted for the town zoning ordinance. The 56 percent wanting to allow the use of fireworks were similarly split, 34 percent and 21 percent. Given that an earlier online survey showed the town to be about evenly split between those wanting to allow fireworks and those wanting to ban them, it was predictable that splitting the pro-fireworks vote would result in a ban on fireworks even if the majority voted to allow them, which is exactly what happened.
This could have been avoided by asking yes-or-no questions on the sale and use of fireworks, followed by yes-or-no questions on whether to adopt the zoning ordinances if they were allowed.