Fatal spelling error

To the Editor:

If you have accurately reprinted the text of the recall article in your edition of 18 January, then the article contains a serious spelling error which the town needs to think about.

The last sentence of the proposed article reads, "Sixty-five percent of the legal votes cast shall be needed to affect a recall of that official."

The Board said "affect" when they meant "effect." This is not a trivial spelling error, it invalidates the whole article.

The word "effect" is usually used as a noun, but on the rare occasions when it is used as a verb it has a clear and distinct meaning. It means "to cause something to happen."

The word "affect" on the other hand merely means "to have an influence upon."

If the text says "effect" it is prescriptive. If it says "affect" it is only permissive.

We have encountered similar problems before with "may" and "shall." When a statute says that an official "may" do such-and-such, it means that he can do it if he feels like it. When it says he "shall" do it, it means that he has to do it whether he wants to or not.

The Board needs to go back to the beginning before they start collecting signatures on this.

Pierre Berube

St. Johnsbury, Vt.

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