Write Lightning is a blog from writer Deb Thompson.
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Tue, Dec 20 2005

Helping America Vote Is More Than Passing Laws

It would be helpful if more politicians recognized the fact that simply passing laws, including the Help America Vote Act, does not guarantee success. Once they spend their time debating and posturing they seem to cast their votes and then move on to whatever other hot topics will garner attention. Meanwhile, people on a local level are left to contend with the practical aspects that will transform the legislators' speeches into something that something that actually does help America vote.

Attorney General Bill Lockyer decided to have the state sue Santa Cruz County over voter access earlier this year. I hope he will get behind us now in a practical way and use his department to help pave the way for usable equipment that will enable disabled, and other, voters to cast their ballots fairly. There are a lot of things that occur at polling places that make it difficult for voters that Mr. Lockyer never sees. I've worked as an elections clerk at a polling place that happens to be a school. In the past we've had to deal with pranks and vandalism on the part of students and so we've had to delay the placement of items in certain locations until the students are in class for the day, even though the Help America Vote Act contains detailed rules about notices and signs. Next year we won't be able to use that particular location at all because we have no electricity in the room made available to us and we'll need that electricity for the voting machines. A given property only receives about twenty-five dollars for the use of its space as a polling place and it's becoming more difficult to get those spaces when one considers the inconvenience and cost to property owners and managers. I hope Mr. Lockyer will concentrate on practical matters such as this in the future and will work to encourage and assist counties in their search for suitable locations as polling places. Everyone works long hours here to make voting accessible and fair. It's very discouraging when elected officials assume they have enough knowledge from their warm, well-lit offices to tell us all how to get the work done where the rubber meets the road—and then file lawsuits when things don't happen a certain way. Will you choose to give us some practical assistance, Mr. Lockyer, so that we can actually Help America Vote—particularly Americans in Santa Cruz County?

posted at: 08:45 | category: /Politics | link to this entry

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