Last week I received a robo call regarding the Greece, NY School Districts desire to consolidate Polling places. It shocked me. I'd been reading about this happening in other communities around the country, and the world, especially in overly poor , democratic areas. It's a form of voter suppression, stopping or making it difficult for anyone who might upset the corporate agenda, from voicing their opinion. Just like they did eliminating cable access tv stations. It had hit home, and to my great sadness, very few people in Greece, NY cared.
This is one issue in my mind, that is the last line of peaceful defense and dissent left to Americans, and now its disappearing. I felt I had to speak out so I did . There were a whole 4 of us. We had to sit and listen to the official, site all very feeble excuses for closing the polling places. "It had become inconvenient to find help at the polls"and "It cost too much to pay them", but they didn't want to have to pay them anyway, so no matter, shut 'em down.
"It disrupts the school day for children", and removing things like Civics and the American Revolution from their history books just isn't enough , so lets remove all civic minded notions of engaging them in the voting process. So there, ...more intentional ignorance.
In Italy they say "the fish rots from the head down".
"Low voter turnout" but they don't want anyone to know whats going on anyway, so lets just close the polling place in their neighborhood and have " no voter turnout".
As I spoke and watched their faces , all I could think was that today, you, the school board, will take away the freedom and convenience of voting from many of our citizens. You're very smug and confident. But by allowing voter suppression, making it difficult for civic engagement, you're putting the nail in your own coffin. Because tomorrow, mayoral control will come to town, as it has to so many other cities in America, and you the School Board will no longer be needed either, and there will be no one left who cares, to fight for you.
Below is a copy of my 4mins. I had to do a quick edit when I found out we only had 3 mins tops. This was my intended speech in its entirety.
GREECE TOWN BOARD MEETING NOV 10, 2015
GOOD EVENING & THANK YOU FOR THIS OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK ON THE SUBJECT OF CONSOLIDATING POLLING PLACES.
MY NAME IS DEBORAH MAGONE-FRAGALE. I’M A REVEREND & A TEACHER.
I’VE BEEN A RESIDENT OF GREECE NY FOR 12 YRS and voting is one of the freedoms that Veterans fought for. (added last minute in response to the meeting opening moment of silence for Veterans and the Freedoms they fought for)
THE FIRST QUESTION THAT COMES TO MY MIND IS :
1. WHO IS NTS DATA SERVICES? AND WHY HAS AN OUTSIDE COMPANY BEEN CALLED IN, BEFORE CALLING A MEETING WITH GREECE CITIZENS TO GET THEIR INPUT FIRST? AND WERE TAX DOLLARS SPENT ON CONSULTING FEES ?
2ND . WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO CONSOLIDATE POLLING PLACES MAKING IT MORE DIFFICULT & INCONVENIENT FOR VOTERS TO GET TO THE POLLS ESPECIALLY SENIORS AND LOW INCOME W/ NO TRANSPORTATION? IN OTHER PLACES THIS HAS HAPPENED AND CREATED IMPOSSIBLE CIRCUMSTANCES & LONG LINES FOR NUMEROUS COMMUNITIES ACROSS THE COUNTRY.
3RD . WHY ARE CHURCHES EVEN BEING CONSIDERED AS POLLING PLACE ALTERNATIVES?
THIS SHOULDN’T EVEN BE AN OPTION, CONSIDERING THE SCANDAL & INTERNATIONAL CLIMATE RIGHT NOW, REGARDING GREECE,NY ‘S LACK OF RECOGNITION OF THE CONSTITUIONAL SEPARATION BETWEEN CHURCH AND STATE.
EVEN AS A REVEREND , THIS IS SOMETHING I MYSELF AM VERY CONSCIOUS OF. I’M VERY UNCOMFORTABLE WALKING IN TO SOMEONE ELSES PRIVATE HOUSE OF WORSHIP TO VOTE ON SUPPOSEDLY PUBLIC POLICY, & CANDIDATES.
ALSO PUBLIC TAXPAYER FUNDS WILL BE PAID TO WHOMEVER HOSTS THE POLLING.
I’D PREFER TO SEE MY TAX DOLLARS GOING TO SCHOOLS, FRIEHOUSES & POLICE STATIONS , EVEN CITY HALL TO PROVIDE MUCH NEEDED PUBLIC SERVICES.
RESEARCH BY STANFORD, MIT & OTHER POLITICAL SCIENCE PROFESSIONALS ACROSS THE COUNTRY, WHO BY THE WAY I WOULD TRUST MORE THAN AN OUTSIDE, FOR PROFIT DATA SERVICE, HAVE FOUND THAT
THAT IN FACT, "THE INFLUENCE OF POLLING LOCATION ON VOTING (E.G., CHURCH WITH AN ANTI-GAY AGENDA) WOULD BE MORE THAN ENOUGH TO CHANGE THE OUTCOME OF A CLOSE ELECTION.
THESE SAME RESEARCHERS HAVE ALSO FOUND THAT EVEN A SMALL INCREASE IN THE DISTANCE BETWEEN HOME & THE BALLOT BOX CAUSES A SIGNIFICANT DECLINE IN THE LIKELIHOOD THAT AN INDIVIDUAL WILL SHOW UP ON ELECTION DAY.
NOW, I UNDERSTAND VOTER TURNOUT HAS BEEN LOW.
SHOULDN’T EVERYONES EFFORTS AND MONEY GO INTO LOOKING FOR WAYS TO INCREASE CIVIC RESPONSIBILITY TO VOTE, INSTEAD OF TAKING IT AWAY ?
HAVING POLLING IN SCHOOLS IS A GREAT WAY TO TEACH OUR CHILDREN, INSTEAD OF TAKING THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION AND CIVICS OUT OF THE BOOKS AND CURRICULUM , AS IS HAPPENING NOW, I’M BEING TOLD BY TEACHERS .
SAFETY , PARKING AND ACCESSIBILTY HAV BEEN CITED AS REASONS FOR THE CONSOLIDATION.
I SEE NO LACK OF PARKING, SAFETY OR ACCESSIBILTY IN GREECE SCHOOLS OR PUBLIC FACILITIES.
I FAIL TO SEE HOW CHURCHES WOULD BE MORE SECURE. BUT I CAN SEE HOW THEY WOULD INTIMIDATE VOTERS. OTHERWISE THE ABSENTEE BALLOT ENVELOPE WOULD NOT ASK THE QUESTION “ARE YOU VOTING ABSENTEE BECAUSE YOUR POLLING PLACE IS A CHURCH?”
SAFETY ISSUES ARE EASILY FIXED, DAMAGING DEMOCRACY AND CREATING THE FEELING OF EXCLUSION, IS NOT .
IT WAS VERY INCONVENIENT FOR TOWN OFFICIALS TO HAVE PEOPLE SEEING DISSENSION AT TOWN MEETINGS SO THEY ELIMINATED THE CABLE ACCESS STATION WHO REFUSED TO EDIT.
COULD IT BE THAT ITS ALSO INCONVENIENT TO HAVE PEOPLE VOTING IN LARGE NUMBERS, SO LETS ELIMINATE POLLING PLACES ? I have to wonder !
PLEASE LETS NOT BRING ANYMORE EMBARRASSING PUBLICITY TO THE BEAUTIFUL TOWN OF GREECE , NY. ITS TIME TO MAKE GREECE GOVERNMENT MORE TRANSPARENT, INCLUSIVE, AND ACCESSIBLE.
On past issues, by the time these public hearings come about, it means officials have usually made up their minds. If so, I hope its on the side of the citizens of Greece,NY and Democracy……….. THANK YOU