Archive for the ‘Vote’ Category

Service of Changing Your Mind IV

Thursday, September 3rd, 2020

Photo: careersingovernment.com

I’ve written here about this subject covering an organization that disinvited a celebrity speaker to politicians flip-flopping about policies or giving the go-ahead for a public event and then cancelling it in the end. Apology and forgiveness are cousins to changing one’s mind and I’ve written about these as well.

Photo: yahoo.com

What, if anything, does it take to change a voter’s mind? The people who run political campaigns must think it can be done or they wouldn’t throw mud and innuendo at one another and plant rumors. Has Trump had a stroke or Covid-19? Is Melania steadying him as he walks which is why she holds his hand these days?  Does Biden have dementia? Why is he hiding in his basement?

Every time I enter a room to get something and I can’t recall why, I remember I’ve been doing this since college when I’d arrive in a friend’s dorm room and go blank. Lucky I’ve not run for office all these years as I’d already be institutionalized by the media. I’ve never remembered movie or book titles, hotel or restaurant names. I’m ashamed. My husband enabled me as he always came up with the info I’d forgotten.

I marvel at actors who remember a book’s length of lines and friends who always dig up the title or name I’m groping for. Google is a godsend, but I digress.

Are people who turn a blind eye to a politician’s transgressions as easy on their spouses, siblings and children? What filter do voters use to determine truth from fiction? Do we believe only what we want to hear? What does it take for a politician on one side of the aisle to compromise or change his/her mind or is that out of the question these days? Have you ever changed your mind about anything?

Photo: Scienceabc.com

Service of Little Things Mean A Lot III

Thursday, August 27th, 2020

Money plant cutting

Since the pandemic began, I’ve written two previous Service of Little Things posts. Two of the following four little things may really be big.

My vote counts

I’m grateful for the link a friend sent me for the skinny on which exemption to check to legitimately send for an absentee ballot in New York State. https://www.nbcnews.com/specials/plan-your-vote-state-by-state-guide-voting-by-mail-early-in-person-voting-election/.

When I drilled down to New York, https://www.elections.ny.gov/VotingAbsentee.html I learned which option to check: “Unable to appear at the polls due to temporary or permanent illness or disability (temporary illness includes being unable to appear due to risk of contracting or spreading a communicable disease like COVID-19).

Queries to the NY Board of Elections and to one of my senators had gone unanswered.

 A tree grows in a NYC high-rise

I was thrilled that a cutting from a money tree, aka Pachira aquatica, Malabar chestnut or Saba nut–seems to have taken root. This baby [photo above] is two months old. I feel joy watching it grow.

E-book heaven

And while this isn’t little–I splurged and bought myself an iPad and I’m thrilled with it–the book world is my oyster thanks to the New York Public Library’s e-book collection. Some books I’ve reserved, photo right. I’d never wanted to read a book on a gadget but the library is still closed and in any case I am uncomfortable borrowing a book during the pandemic. Like any convert, I’m taken with this space saver that almost everyone else has owned for years.

Talent to Amuse

I learned that a wonderful series on Netflix–“Call My Agent”–is in production for another year. In French with subtitles, it’s a well done, funny show that takes place mostly in Paris. It’s about a quirky collection of talent agents and their famous clients.

Do you increasingly appreciate little things in these unsettling times? For what are you grateful?

“Call My Agent” cast. Photo: Netflix

Service of Character in the News

Monday, August 24th, 2020

Photo: areyoulivingwell.com

“Character is on the ballot,” sneered a radio newsman on Friday, the morning after the conclusion of the Democratic convention.

Shouldn’t such a “report,” delivered with a sarcastic intonation, have been presented in a vanilla voice, as a quote, not as a news headline?

I miss the day when you could only guess the politics of those who deliver the news or more likely you wouldn’t think about it. There still are 24 hour radio news programs where efficient newscasters reiterate highlights, traffic and weather reports. Otherwise, nonpartisan has been hard to find for years.

Doris Kearns Goodwin Photo: aarp.org

Some of my favorite reporters, such as Andrea Mitchell and Chuck Todd, have tipped their hands. Like historians Jon Meacham, Doris Kearns Goodwin and David McCullough, whom I don’t recall before speaking up against or in favor of one or another politician, they’ve taken sides. Is their speaking up and out appropriate?

Even in the old days editorializing happened, if subtly, by the stories covered and those given no air time. Today if we tune into MSNBC or FOX we get an unrealistic analysis, a security blanket of analysis or finger-pointing that affirms what most of their viewers already think. On air personalities on both reflect their own realities.

Is character so bad a trait for a politician? Does this kind of coverage encourage extreme behavior by politicians? Can we expect nonpartisan news in our futures? If so, what will it take to revert?  Was news really impartial in the day?

Photo: orlandoweekly.com

Service of Uncommunicative Left and Right Hands: Counterintuitive Marketing

Monday, July 27th, 2020

Photo: latimerapplyby.com

I am baffled by the gap between reality and the vigorous marketing and promotion of two crucial initiatives that impact millions. Marketers deliberately caused pressure on insufficient supply boosting demand making things worse.

I’m speaking about write-in ballots in the New York State primary and Covid-19 testing around the country. Neither was/is able to meet expectations yet both continued/continue to be promoted.

Will My Vote Count?

I already covered the disgraceful New York write-in ballot snafus in “Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic.” I ended up voting in person because my write-in ballot came the day after I voted. Yet the Mayor and commercials urged citizens to request ballots until deadline. A friend’s mother never received hers.

Photo: gothamist.com

And that is just half this sad story. Edward-Isaac Dovere wrote last week in theatlantic.com: “More than a month after New York’s June 23 primary elections, state election officials are still counting votes. In some legislative districts, they haven’t even started counting absentee votes. In the best-case scenario, election officials hope to declare winners by the first Tuesday in August—six weeks after Election Day. It might take a lot longer than that. Election officials in New York City have already invalidated upwards of 100,000 absentee ballots—about one of every five that were mailed in from the five boroughs. And furious candidates are already filing lawsuits charging discrimination and disenfranchisement.”

Failing the Test

The Covid-19 testing scenario is a disaster and yet every day the public–in New York at least–is urged to be tested even if they aren’t sick or have no reason to be. Backlogs have created inconceivable delays and who knows why there are so many inaccurate results.

Some examples:

  • One couple was thrown into a tizzy when the wife, whose husband was recovering from open heart surgery, came down with a sore throat and tested “presumptive positive.” She had a second test elsewhere and it was negative. A week later the original lab informed her that the  test was faulty–no virus. Were others who had the virus told they were OK?
  • An acquaintance missed a long-scheduled procedure because the results of her required Covid-19 test, taken six days prior, didn’t come in time. Did you know it’s recommended that patients quarantine themselves after being tested until the operation? How many people can afford to quarantine in addition to potential recovery time from an operation?
  • Others, such as the son of WOR 710 radio morning show producer Natalie Vacca, get their results in two days. Her husband’s took 11. Morning show co-host Len Berman’s son’s test came back in 10.

Standardization? Ha. It’s every man or woman–or State–for him/her or itself. Sady Swanson in the Fort Collins Coloradoan wrote: “With a national backlog of COVID-19 tests causing delayed results, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis has announced plans to expand lab capacity within the state to get Coloradans results quicker.”

She reported that some Coloradans waited 10 to 12 days for results. Governor Polis won’t count on national testing. Swanson reported: “The national labs have been receiving ‘tens of thousands’ of tests to process per day from states currently seeing COVID-19 case spikes, like Arizona, Texas and Florida, Polis said.

“With no national testing strategy, Polis said the state is moving forward with purchasing additional testing supplies, expanding state lab capacity and securing more private partners to meet the state’s testing needs.”

So many questions:

  • If an initiative can’t fulfill current requests why prime the pump?
  • Are you planning to vote by write-in ballot in November?
  • Are you concerned that you won’t get your ballot in time or if you do, that your vote won’t count?
  • Should there be a national testing strategy or standardized test for Covid-19?
  • If you had the test, did you trust the result?
  • What good does it do if it takes more than two days to learn that you are a carrier or that you have Covid-19?

 

 

Photo: medscape.com

Service of Uneven Performances During a Pandemic

Thursday, June 18th, 2020

Photo: facebook.com

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.

Photo: thecity.nyc

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.

Photo: Techcrunch.com

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.

Photo: faq.usps.com

 

Service of Registering to Vote

Thursday, September 27th, 2018

Photo: hudsonvalleynewsnetwork.com

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.

Photo: southlakesentinel.com

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.

Photo: sanavalley.com

Our citizens have been lackadaisical voters. According to fairvote.org, 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?

Photo: abodo.com

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 BurlingtonFreePress.com: “Vermont hits record low voter turnout.”

Daniel Nussbaum on Brietbart.com 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

flag

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?

 catsgalore

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