Archive for the ‘Vote’ Category

Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic

Thursday, June 18th, 2020


When a company or organization works well these days it does so splendidly and when it doesn’t……I’ve encountered both.

Kudos to the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles. In spite of the pandemic, its staff sent me a receipt in record time acknowledging they’d destroyed the license plates we’d shipped to them. Shortly thereafter I received a refund check for what they owed me because there was still time on my registration.

It took a shockingly few minutes to cancel my auto insurance. When I called USAA the customer service person trusted the date on my motor vehicles receipt and voila! Done.


On the other hand, the New York State Board of Elections so far gets an F. I requested a write-in ballot well over a month ago and since have read and heard countless suggestions from the NYC Mayor and others urging folks to do the same. The deadline to vote in the June 23 primary is approaching and no ballot as of yesterday. I reported this to my councilman’s office. The staffer who took the message said that someone in the office was looking into this as plenty of others are in the same boat.


Have you tried to call Verizon? Ha! What a rigamarole to report a change of address! I was refused access to my online account; live chat doesn’t handle this task and sent me back to the site I couldn’t enter. There is no place on the bill to  make the address adjustment. I pleaded with Mr. or Ms. Live Chat for a phone number which I got. I called,  clicking on “technical difficulties” to get a person who heard my distress and transferred me to a woman in the finance department. Jackpot. Let’s hope I get the next bill at the right address. Time wasted: 3/4 of a frustrating anxiety-provoking  hour.

I filled out the online United States Postal Service change of address form and when done was asked for my credit card number. I thought “I must be in a scam lookalike website,” and clicked off. I then asked for the old fashioned paper form at the post office and mentioned the credit card request that had alarmed me. The postal clerk told me that I was on the right site and that online address changes cost $1. I’d be happy to donate $1 but the reason for the charge and credit card request should have been made clear. I’ve been burned before: I thought I was on a site that I had accessed. It was an almost-the-same address. The mistake scrambled my computer requiring an expert to salvage it.

One friend still waits for her stimulus check when everyone else seems to have received theirs; another in an adjacent state hasn’t seen a cent of unemployment money in six weeks. She called the office 70 times one day and couldn’t get through.

Please share experiences that you have faced trying to get things done during the pandemic– more remarkable than exasperating I trust.



Service of Registering to Vote

Thursday, September 27th, 2018


I can’t remember noticing as many efforts to register people to vote–from so many quarters–as I now do.

September 25 was “National Voter Registration Day,” an initiative that’s six years old but it’s the first time I’ve heard of it. According to Facebook, when I last looked, 2,247,846 reported that they’d helped friends to register on TurboVote.


In addition to Facebook, even before the national day, links and reminders have also popped up on Twitter, Instagram and Google for starters. A few weeks ago I went to a screening, sponsored by AARP, of the documentary “Love, Gilda,” about Gilda Radner. At the registration desk in the movie house lobby we were asked to sign a promise-to-register-to-vote sheet. I saw a poster on the exit door of a grocery store upstate last weekend. The Alumnae for Action committee of a NYC private school—Brearley– sponsored a voter registration postcard writing event, coordinated by the League of Women Voters.


Our citizens have been lackadaisical voters. According to, 40 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots for midterm elections and in recent years, 60 percent for national elections. Drew Desilver, Pew Research Center, wrote “U.S. trails most developed countries in voter turnout.” He reported that we’re 26th of 32 members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.

Belgium**ranks first at 87 percent followed by Sweden and Denmark, 82.6 percent and 80 percent, respectively. Switzerland, the last, comes in at 39 percent. **Desilver reported that Belgium is one of 24 nations with “some form of compulsory voting.”

Has the effort to register people to vote been as vigorous in other years? Do you think that these recent registrants will remember—or bother–to vote on November 6? Do you vote even if you aren’t enamored with the choices? In addition to legitimate reasons such as a last minute illness, unexpected travel or horrendous weather conditions where a write-in ballot is no longer an option, why do you think people don’t vote?


Service of Executing Your Franchise

Thursday, November 6th, 2014

vote here today

The gymnasium in which I voted this week was filled with everything but voters. On the perimeter of the giant space were many long tables representing election districts—each had three poll workers–and toward the center were desks with pens to fill out ballots and a few scanners against one wall. I mentioned the dearth of voters to the poll worker at the scanner stations. She told me I’d just missed a slew of voters and that at one scanner alone, she bet that there were at least 60 ballots.

While that might be a hefty number at 9 a.m. in a small town, I voted in midtown Manhattan. I was used to meeting my neighbors in lines, short and long. There were none.

empty voting boothThings weren’t much different in Ohio, according to Fox 8 News in Cleveland. The station reported unofficial estimates of 40 percent of registered voters who cast votes this election in the Buckeye State.

On Google I saw a Star-Ledger headline: “NJ’s voter turnout in 2014 midterm elections may be record low, early figures show.” The “Vermont hits record low voter turnout.”

Daniel Nussbaum on predicted for California the lowest voter turnout “in the modern era.”

whinerI’m tired of hearing “there’s nobody I like” or “it doesn’t matter whether or not I vote.” If all these powerless people got together imagine the impact they might have!

Speaking of inertia, Staten Island voters picked as their US Representative a fellow who is under indictment for tax fraud. It will be his third term. If you didn’t like his opponent or would rather eat glass than vote for a member of another political party, perhaps your Uncle Fred would be a better choice? To write in a name in New York you color in “other” in the appropriate section and write in the name of your candidate. No doubt it’s just as easy in other states.

I wonder how many of the people who complain about their town, city, state or country vote. I get the feeling that those who bother are either extremists, naturalized citizens who know what it’s like to live in a place where they can’t vote and those whose family tradition recognizes the importance.

So much money is spent on the process already that clearly throwing more of it to turnaround apathy won’t jumpstart voters.

Was my polling place a fluke? What will it take to energize and engage citizens here? In whose interest is it when people don’t vote?

excited people

Service of Independents

Tuesday, September 4th, 2012


I see irony in the fact that independents and undecided voters may determine who wins the presidential election because we have become a country focused so much on teams.

College and grad school work is largely accomplished in teams; people refer to their associates at work as teammates and then of course millions root for their favorites, which is nothing new.

In addition, many belong to clubs, organizations, churches and political parties.

sheep1One of the things my father repeated most often when, as a child, I’d whine that “all the girls were doing” whatever it was that he forbade was “that’s precisely why you won’t be doing it.” He was active in a range of sports from soccer to tennis and belonged to a range of teams, yet at the same time, he was obsessed about not being a sheep i.e. a follower. His outlook, a strict one, was annoying-to-painful but as a result, while a happy team player when appropriate, I’m comfortable speaking up and acting independently.

My bet is that wavering, crucial independents are driving President Obama’s and Governor Romney’s handlers crazy because they are trying to hug mercury. What advice do you have for these handlers? What do you suggest they do to get independents to vote for their candidate or to vote at all? Do the independents feel comfortable in their skin and do they recognize their power?


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