E-voting imperils basic right

WHAT IF YOUR VOTE didn’t count? Forget about Afghanistan, it’s happened plenty of places in the U.S.–take Florida, for instance. And it could happen right here in Columbia County.

When voters go to the polls Tuesday, November 3, most will still use the same old, bulky, mechanically operated booths with their satisfying metallic rattle that announces another set of votes has been recorded.

But somewhere in each of the 58 polling stations in Columbia County is a new, electronic system, part of which is called a ballot marking device. It allows people with all sorts of disabilities that might prevent them from using the mechanical machines to cast their ballots at a public voting site rather than use a paper ballot or forgo voting altogether.

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Ichabod Cr-odack School District?

BUSINESS WISDOM HAS IT that in order to make money you have to spend money. But what if you want to save money? Is that also a reason to spend? 

People who want to sell something assure their customers it is. Imagine what you’ll save if you buy a better car (telephone, sofa or sweater for your goldfish…)! And sometimes they’re right. Take the Cash for Clunkers program.

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Fires are about to go out

TURN YOUR BURN BARRELS into planters. A state regulation takes effect next week that extends the ban on burning household waste to all parts of the state, instead of just communities of more than 20,000 people. No word yet whether the new rule applies to torches carried by irate trash burners.

The new ban covers every town in Columbia County.

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Don’t coerce healthcare workers

WHAT A TALENT Governor Paterson’s administration has for mixing the best of intentions with the worst political skills imaginable. Some of these missteps only hurt the officials who make them, but the unfortunate decision to require mandatory H1N1 swine flu vaccinations for healthcare workers in this state could have far wider and more profound consequences.

Some people fear all kinds of vaccinations regardless of the evidence. Others believe that concern over the H1N1 variant of the influenza virus is overblown. After all, the state Department of Health says that statewide the number of cases is low and holding steady. Maybe this version of the virus will just peter out.

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Walmart moves in… again

BIG BOX STORE DOESN’T QUITE CAPTURE the scale of the new Walmart Supercenter that opened in Greenport last week. By local standards, it’s more like a stadium store or a crater-center. What else do you call a building whose floor space covers nearly three acres?

One of the strongest arguments against new Walmarts involves how they and other large chain stores siphon off the customers of locally owned firms and hollow out village, town and city business districts. But that objection has little relevance to this case, because Walmart relocated less than a mile from its old store. The new Walmart has added a supermarket, but it will compete with the supermarkets owned by other chains, not local vendors.

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