Letters to the Editor

Letters to the Editor

October 24, 2004

Going to the polls? Here are a few tips

With the general election only days away, voters may want a few tips in advance of their journeys to the polls.

IDENTIFICATION, DON'T LEAVE HOME WITHOUT IT -- It is wisest to go to the polls with picture identification. Under the new HAVA law [Help America Vote Act], under some circumstances identification showing name and address is needed to be eligible to vote.

WRITING ON THE WALL -- Signs required to be on walls at polling places provide directions for using voting equipment, list voting rights, list instructions for filing complaints, and more.

NAME NOT AT POLLING PLACE -- No need to panic if registered but name is absent from polling place. Voters may be directed to different polling places by Election Judges or given provisional ballots. Election Judges have been trained in procedures in line with current law.

ASK - Definitely ask poll workers for any kind of assistance related to voting.

VOTERS WITH SPECIAL NEEDS -- Under today's law, physically impaired voters can be provided with mechanisms to allow them privacy in voting such as audible voting for the visually impaired and enlarged print. Be sure to ask.

ELIGIBILITY FOR PROVISIONAL BALLOT -- Voters whose names are listed at the polling place do not receive provisional ballots; they cast their votes on the equipment provided. Provisional Ballots are for voters whose names are not listed at the polling place.

CHILDREN ACCOMPANYING VOTERS -- Children 12 and younger only may accompany voters as they cast their votes.

CALL AHEAD -- If in doubt about where to vote or if not sure of being registered to vote, contact the Howard County Board of Elections at 410-313-5820.

AVOIDING CROWDS -- Generally, polls have least use from 10 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. and from 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

BE PREPARED -- Read the Voters Guide prepared by the League of Women Voters for information about the items on the ballot, namely President/Vice President, U.S. Senator, Representative to the U.S. House of Representatives, Judge for the Maryland Court of Special Appeals, two for the Howard County Board of Education, and two Maryland Constitutional Amendments.

NO ELECTIONEERING -- Plan to follow requirement to avoid electioneering at the polls.

Armed with these tips, voters should have a smoother sailing on General Election Day 2004.

Betsy Grater

Ellicott City

Co-President League of Women Voters of Howard County Inc.

Consider transit cost in redistricting

I don't have a horse in this race. My 15-year-old attends private school and won't be affected by the latest round of high school redistricting. Consequently, I am not a consumer of the school system's services, but merely an observer and, by default, a financial contributor to the Howard County school system. With that financial support in mind, I ask where else could a group be taken seriously that demands to attend the fifth-closest high school to their community?

For the last few days, residents of the Worthington community have been in the news, protesting that their neighborhood is slated to attend Mount Hebron High School in both the Red and the Green plans. And although it's hard not to be sympathetic to families split between two schools, why are Howard County taxpayers being asked to spend so much money transporting students to schools so far from their homes?

I've looked at the maps and have calculated the distances. Residents of Worthington are much closer to Howard and Long Reach than they are to either Mount Hebron or Centennial. Even Oakland Mills, with 200 open seats, is closer, and Mount Hebron edges out Centennial as the fourth-closest option. With the cost of gas at an all-time high, it is not right to spend so much money on transportation.

Every redistricting plan I have seen reminds me of a lifesaver, with students being bused around the big black hole in the middle. Sensible redistricting would slice southward through the "black hole," all the way through to Atholton and River Hill. But as long as River Hill-area kids are bused to Atholton and River Hill is kept below 95% capacity with an attendance area that stretches to the northern parts of the county, that won't happen. Until that logjam is opened, county taxpayers will have to underwrite the cost of transporting students to their fifth-closest school and sending walkers from some schools to other schools far, far away.

K. N. Robinson

Elkridge

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