Make the Call
found the article “1-800-CASH-COW” [Newsfront, Sept. 25] in
one sense ironic. Alison Coleman is quoted as saying that
“none of us, the ultimate consumers who have to pay the bills,
were consulted about this at all,” referring to a rate deal
concerning costs of collect calls from inmates at state prisons.
She then says, “It is the most immoral thing I have ever seen.”
Wow. This is from a woman whose husband is in the 24th year
of prison for who knows what. What did he do? How immoral
was it? We do not know. There is NO thought for the victim
or victims of 24 years ago and if there is it is not as important
as the rate she is paying for a phone bill. Not a real sense
Ironic that somewhere there is a family or families, lives
changed and they pay their bills. They were also not consulted.
Solution Is Green
current debacle in Albany County over redistricting, the primary,
and the general election [Newsfront, Sept. 25] is yet another
example of broken democracy and stale, egotistical thinking
by all sides. Voters have been faced with the issue of how
best to gerrymander districts so as to provide minorities
with their token representation in a corrupt system, and suddenly
the incumbent leaders have asked the citizens of this county
to accept that terms for county officials may simply be extended
another year. There are actually very simple answers to the
problem of representation and conducting a fast primary and
general election, but it seems that once again no party but
the Green Party has offered the solutions.
There are two ways to deal with the problem of having equal
representation for minorities and holding the general election
and the primary within the necessary amount of time. Both
of them deal with how we vote; the first is called instant-runoff
voting (IRV) and the second is proportional representation
(PR). All IRV does is have voters rank candidates in their
preferred order. Votes are tallied and the most popular ranked
candidate wins; your votes count more because your second
choice may win even if the first does not. This would also
eliminate the need for a separate primary, since all choices
could be ranked.
Proportional representation would put an end to gerrymandering
of districts lately in the news. The entire county would elect
not based on districts but countywide; people would cast their
votes for parties and lists of candidates for those parties.
If the Republicans or Greens won 15 percent of the vote, they
would get 15 percent of the seats in the Legislature. Whole
slates of minority candidates could run and possibly win seats
without having to get the plurality of the vote, and we wouldn’t
worry about gerrymandering because votes would be countywide.
All of this could be done rather quickly if the city and county
acted; votes could be counted on paper ballots marked with
numbers or Xs. This would save money and definitely be an
advance toward a more representative system of government.
The Green Party has been proposing these reforms for quite
a while now without any recognition by the mainstream press
or elected officials. Voters are smart enough to quickly pick
up how to use the new systems, and there is no shame in hand
counting paper votes. It may even save taxpayers money, by
collapsing the primary and general election into one.
Albany County Green Party
a recent story on a primary election in Stillwater [Newsfront,
Sept. 25] we incorrectly stated that voters could not
be accompanied into voting booths by anyone except elections
inspectors. New York state election law states that voters
requiring assistance can choose someone to help them as long
as it is not their union boss, employer or a representative
thereof. If someone is a voter escort into the booth, that
person must take an oath and sign an affidavit swearing not
to influence the will of the voter and thereby their vote.
Howard Dean’s bio in our guide to the Democratic presidential
hopefuls [“Who Are These People?,” Oct. 2] erroneously stated
that the candidate was elected governor of Vermont in 1991.
Then Vermont’s lieutenant governor, Dean assumed the position
of governor when the state’s previous governor, Richard A.
Snelling, died of a heart attack on Aug. 13, 1991. Dean was
first elected governor in 1992.
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