© St. Petersburg Times, published May 12, 2001
Editor: In the wake of last year's election problems, Congress must act expeditiously to assist states and local jurisdictions in upgrading voting technology and improving election administration systems. A healthy democracy demands that our election systems be responsive to the needs of the voter. They must be accessible, accurate and efficient.
Numerous bills have been introduced to help accomplish this. In this closely divided Congress, however, any successful proposal will have to have strong bipartisan support. Media coverage of last year's presidential election provided the initial momentum for reform, but public demand for improvements in election administration will be necessary to build the fire to ensure real progress.
The League of Women Voters supports Senate Bill S.379, the Federal Election Modernization Act of 2001. Introduced by Sen. Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., and Sen. Sam Brownback, R-Kan., the bill would establish a five-year grant program to states and local jurisdictions, providing up to $500-million per year in matching grants. It also would establish a one-year, bipartisan commission to study voting issues. Grants would be used to improve voting technology and election administration systems using "best practices" established by the commission and based on the need to ensure accuracy, accessibility and non-discrimination.
We are fortunate in Citrus County to have an informed and involved supervisor of elections, Susan Gill. I feel she would utilize any grant to the fullest advantage for the voters of Citrus County, bringing us further into the 21st century.
States and local municipalities have too long assumed the entire financial responsibility for conducting federal elections. Federal assistance for the election administration is not only a matter of equity; it also is necessary to ensure the most fundamental right of this democracy, the right to vote and to have that vote count, is preserved and protected. Our senators and representatives need to hear from us.
For more information on this bill, please see the League of Women Voters Web site at: www.lwv.org.
-- Anita Taylor, president, Citrus County League of Women Voters
Editor: Re: City gets outfoxed by Fitzpatrick brothers, April 29 column by Greg Hamilton:
Well, well. Citrus County has its own little scandal going. Once again, it's who you are that determines whether the law will be applied evenly and justly.
I can guarantee you that had that been me who "dinged" a car (to the tune of $3,200), sped off (allegedly driving off the side of the road several times in the process), and then went into hiding, my butt would be sitting in some jail cell right now. And not even a breath test because of the timidity of Sgt. Ballard of the Crystal River Police Department. If this is an example of a "pillar of the community," the community had better check its infrastructure.
The banker in question claims he was told by his attorney/brother to have a few drinks and relax. It sounds to me if he had relaxed any more, he would have been comatose. I'm sure once his brother found out there was no breath test, his sage legal advice was to get bombed as quickly as possible so he could say he got polluted at home. The two of them are probably laughing right now.
Well, maybe he won't go to a court of justice, but he does have to face the court of public opinion. And I'm part of the public, and now you know my opinion. Court's adjourned.
-- Alan Jones, Hernando
Editor: Citrus County School Board Chairwoman Patience Nave has taken abridgement of our constitutional protections another step. Trampling our freedom of speech is now on her fundamentalist, political, religionist agenda.
Nave makes and changes her board's policy, sometimes at the last minute, depending on who will be addressing the board and their topic. If she knows you and agrees with your religious and political bent, the rules are brushed aside; please step forward to the podium and say your piece. If you're the wicked witch from the east, be prepared to be told you cannot address the board for a hundred reasons she happens to think of at that particular moment.
So there won't he any confusion, my rules never change. I will address her board and exercise my freedom of speech, cops or no cops, rules or no rules -- insulting, outrageous and in their face. Nave might as well settle in for the long haul. First Amendment issues are nothing new to me. I have stood before and opposed a hundred Patience Naves for more than 20 years, and they are all the same. They blow into local politics with their "in Jesus' name" agenda and eventually end up relegated to the backwaters of failed and forgotten religionist politicians.
For as long as Nave and her political religionist disciples sit on that board, my policy is and will remain: Do not tread on people's freedoms.
-- Charles W. Schrader, Dunnellon