Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Fire Island Lighthouse, New York State

The Fire Island Light is an old and respected lighthouse that has been turned into a museum dedicated to the men and women who labored in them and to the rescue teams who manned the boats to bring stranded sailors back to shore. If you are ever near Fire Island, which is one of Long Island's barrier islands, stop and have a look around. The light sits in what is now a nature preserve and has some nice board walks over the sandy ground.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Election Day and HAVA

Paul and I volunteered to be Election Inspectors this year, as the people who man the polls are called in this part of the swamp. I was surprised to learn that one was paid to do this which was good to hear from my budget's point of view.
Next I found out that I wasn't to be an ordinary poll inspector, but a HAVA inspector. HAVA is short for the Help America Vote Act. In New York State, to comply with the law, special voting machines were placed at each polling place to be used by disabled voters who could not use the regular lever machines. There were different attachments to facilitate use by the blind, paraplegics and the wheelchair bound. Unfortunately, it takes 25 minutes or more to vote on these things. In my county, there were a total of 389 machines being supervised by approximately 800 inspectors. (By law, there must always be one Republican and one Democratic at each machine.)
Paul was assigned to another polling place. His partner's mother uses a wheelchair. When she came in to vote they tried to get her to use the HAVA machine so that they could say at least one person did. She wanted no part of it and opted to use the regular machine which only took her a couple of minutes. No one came to my polling place to use the machine. This is not to say that the disabled didn't vote. Most used absentee ballots. As a matter-of-fact, before the election, the Board of Elections sends personnel out to senior centers, institutions and other places where the disable gather in order to facilitate the process for them.
I spent most of the day talking to other inspectors, beading and telling voters in which district they were. (There were two districts at my poling place.) It was a loooooong day. Oddly enough, it wasn't boring. There was a steady stream of people coming in and we even had a line of about a dozen voters waiting for the poles to open at 6AM. Our last voter showed up at 8:55PM. After the poles had closed and we were packing up, the precinct captain told me that almost 90% of the registered voters for our districts actually voted. That made me feel good.

Friday, November 7, 2008


My neighbor, Jack, really gets into Halloween. His wife Evelyn laughs but he was the warmest one of us all.
It's not what you look at that matters, it's what you see.
Henry Davis Thoreau