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Winter Park / Maitland Observer Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2012 5 years ago

Letters to the editor

Winter Park stuck in the 20th century

Wayfinding signs. Goodness!

More evidence that WP in so many ways remains stuck in the 20th century.

And not only are we erecting them, but so “… visitors will rarely, if ever, need their GPS system again….” Clearly we have a generational gap between the folks running this town and the real world.

GPS-based interactive apps are here now and for the future where they will become increasingly sophisticated and networked. Furthermore, in the not-too-distant future, private cars will be computer driven, just tell it where you want to go.

Maybe this mindset is why we so whole-heartedly embraced SunRail with its 19th/20th century technology. From dangerous at-grade crossings to diesel belching locomotion. But we really embraced it because it was “free” with the hope that it will be successful.

—William Shallcross Jr.

Winter Park

The freedom to vote is at stake

The right to vote is precious to democracy. Because we are free to vote, we can decide as a nation who will govern us, and we can deny a second chance to those who disappoint us as leaders.

That fundamental freedom is currently jeopardized by efforts to suppress voting rights in Florida, where laws pushed by Republican Gov. Rick Scott and Republican law-makers aim to restrict voter registration drives, limit early (Sunday) voting and require photo ID to vote. These are all measures that disproportionately affect minorities such as Hispanics and African-Americans, the poor and the elderly, for whom it is burdensome to comply with the stricter rules for registration and voting. Proponents of these laws allege that they are necessary to combat fraud at the polls. However, voter fraud in America is virtually non-existent. Gov. Scott’s voter purge of the state’s voter rolls, for example, has embarrassingly failed to show that the possibility that non-citizens unlawfully cast votes amounts to a real problem in Florida. Last May, a federal judge invalidated a Florida law that was designed to impose draconian penalties upon churches and community organizations, such as the League of Women Voters, who engage in voter registration drives. These drives generally attract great numbers of minority and low-income voters.

The stricter voting laws disenfranchise eligible voters who, overwhelmingly, tend to vote Democratic. These “unintended” consequences can have an unfair impact on presidential elections. We all know that states such as Florida can decide who wins national races. How fundamentally anti-democratic is a situation whereby laws restricting democracy determine elections? When this is the case, all American citizens lose.

Importantly, the new voting laws impose financial costs on the government. For example, forms of photo identification must be provided for free to anyone who requests them; otherwise, these laws would in practice represent a poll tax on voters, which is clearly unconstitutional. Politicians who propose voter identification laws generally pride themselves on their conservative fiscal policies. But this requirement is not too fiscally prudent.

Voting rights are a basic freedom for all Americans. The Voting Rights Act of 1965, a child of the civil rights movement, left behind the injustice of laws that deprived minorities of the right to vote by way of literacy tests and poll taxes. Our great democracy would be badly served if we forgot that voting equality is one of the cornerstones of freedom. Voting equality is a quintessentially American value, hence, when voting rights are restricted, our liberty is stolen.

—Julia Maskivker, Ph.D.,

Assistant political science professor

Rollins College

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