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WVN #57: Could It Be That They Don't Want Seniors to Vote?

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  • waylandvoters2
    Wayland Voters Network January 3, 2005 Dear Wayland Voter, This issue contains a letter published last week in the Wayland Town Crier in response to attacks
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 3, 2005
      Wayland Voters Network
      January 3, 2005

      Dear Wayland Voter,

      This issue contains a letter published last week in the Wayland Town
      Crier in response to attacks against WVN by the chair of the ballot
      question committee that supports the proposed reconstruction of
      Wayland High School, and by other critics including School Committee
      and High School Building Committee members.

      As we have repeatedly explained, WVN provides supplementary
      information to voters, rather than merely repeat material already
      widely distributed by others. Common sense suggests that when
      deciding the most expensive project in Wayland history, voters should
      have as much information as possible and not rely solely on the
      arguments of those who conceived the project.

      Common sense also suggests that the worst possible time to schedule
      such an election is the middle of winter, when older people have the
      most trouble getting to the polls and are most likely to be out of
      town. We have been trying to rectify the irresponsibility of those
      who insisted on a January vote, by sending absentee ballot
      applications to voters most likely to need them.

      We have forwarded our letter to the editor to the Board of Selectmen
      and Executive Secretary Jeff Ritter. We urge you to contact the BOS
      selectmen@... and Town Moderator Peter Gossels (h:508-358-
      7438) if you share our concerns. We trust they would welcome your
      comments and ideas about ways to ensure that elderly voters and those
      with disabilities are not disenfranchised.

      TO THE EDITOR: COULD IT BE THAT THEY DON'T WANT SENIORS TO VOTE?

      As you know, your Dec. 23 story on Kim Reichelt's attack on the
      Wayland Voters Network was initiated by Ms. Reichelt, who contacted
      your reporter to accuse us of being biased and "dishonest." As your
      reporter discovered, there is no plausible evidence for Ms.
      Reichelt's specious claims.

      Our newsletters are factually accurate. As to whether our decisions
      about what to report reflect a bias, that's a matter of
      interpretation. Some readers tell us WVN appears to support the high
      school proposal, others say the opposite.

      We invite your readers to subscribe to our newsletter and judge for
      themselves. To receive it by email, write to waylandvoters@....
      To receive it by regular mail, call Michael, 508-358-2365.

      Ms. Reichelt takes exception to the fact that we sent applications
      for absentee ballots for the Jan. 25 tax override election to some,
      but not all, voters. Why didn't we mail applications to everyone? We
      rely on donations from our readers, and our funds are limited. So we
      mailed applications to those most likely to need them. That group
      includes, but is not limited to, retirees.

      A member of the School Committee inaccurately asserts on the SC
      website that WVN apparently mailed absentee ballot applications
      only "to elderly households and not to households of school
      supporters." Does the School Committee believe that seniors are not
      supporters of the schools?

      Could it be that Ms. Reichelt and the School Committee don't want
      seniors to vote in the Jan. 25 election and Jan. 27 town meeting on
      whether to fund the design of the proposed new high school?

      The reason Wayland Voters Network mailed absentee ballot applications
      is that a majority of selectmen (Betsy Connolly, Michael Tichnor,
      Bill Whitney) refused to do so. Mr. Tichnor suggested that if
      applications were included in a town-wide mailing, it might
      be too easy for people to vote by absentee ballot as a matter of
      convenience, rather than necessity. Those eligible to vote by
      absentee ballot should have to be "proactive," he said, and get the
      applications themselves.

      Could it be that a majority of selectmen don't want seniors to vote
      on Jan. 25 and 27?

      Could town officials make it EASIER for seniors to vote? A few
      suggestions:

      -- Send an absentee ballot application to every registered voter over
      the age of 60.

      -- Be proactive about providing transportation to the polls; announce
      pick-up times at senior housing.

      -- Reserve parking spaces near the Field House for seniors attending
      town meeting so they won't have to shuttle from satellite parking
      lots.

      -- Designate a Field House entrance for seniors and people with
      disabilities so they have quick access to the building.

      -- Reserve seating on the Field House floor for those who have
      trouble using the bleachers.

      -- If voting machines are used, allow less hardy voters first access
      so they won't have to wait in line.

      -- Send a mailing to all elderly residents about these arrangements
      at town meeting, encourage them to attend, and remind them they can
      get a ride by contacting the Council on Aging.

      Unless town officials take such steps, suspicions will persist that
      the promoters of the high school project don't want seniors to vote.

      Margo Melnicove, WVN Chair
      Lakeshore Drive

      Michael Short, WVN Treasurer
      Pelham Island Road

      Thank you for reading this WVN newsletter. Please forward it to your
      friends and neighbors in Wayland. If they want to receive their own
      copy, they can send an email to waylandvoters@... and they will
      be signed up for the listserv. Or, they can sign themselves up by
      sending a blank email to:
      waylandvotersnetwork-subscribe@yahoogroups.com. Click reply and send
      after receiving an e-mail confirming the subscription. If you know
      anyone who'd rather receive information from WVN by regular mail
      please email their name and address to waylandvoters@....

      Wayland Voters Network
      Margo Melnicove, Chair
      Michael Short, Treasurer
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