The Gadfly is a series of letters offering commentary on local issues and published in the Warrensburg Gazette.
On Monday evening I attended a meeting on Johnson County's compliance with the Help America Vote Act. This was the law passed by Congress after the 2000 election. In a nutshell, it requires local governments to spend lots and lots of money to make sure people who are too dumb to understand a simple ballot will have their votes counted. It follows on the heels of the 1992 "Motor Voter" act, better known as the vote fraud enabling act, that makes it easier for people to register.
One of my chief concerns was that the county would be forced to go to those abominable touch-screen voting machines, something that would stretch the time it takes to vote to unacceptable levels. That doesn’t appear to be in the works. There will have to be some sort of voting machine to accommodate the visually impaired (and those who can't read), but the rest of us will most likely vote pretty much in the same way we do now. However, there will be new electronic ballot boxes that will tell us if we spoiled a ballot.
All this costs money, and the state and feds probably won't give us enough. That means other ways will have to be found to save money to pay for the new machines. One way being discussed is to consolidate voting locations. There are a couple of options, one of which involves actually eliminating existing precincts by combining them with other ones. The other option discussed is to have several precincts vote in the same location, which is already done in a couple of cases. Either would create additional problems by making some voters drive considerably farther and by limiting the number of sites that could handle these expanded combined precincts.
One of the peculiarities of Missouri election law is that it gives the local election authority (in our case the County Clerk) pretty much unlimited power to make these change precincts. He's doing well by soliciting input from people throughout the county so there's reason to hope that the ultimate solution will be as fair as possible.
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