Give poll workers respect and thanks
Thanks to some unsung heroes, there was a successful election in Pinellas County earlier this month. Those heroes? Poll workers. They are volunteers who help democracy happen. Working long hours for a stipend, they allow the rest of us the luxury of casting a ballot on Election Day.
Poll workers work not for the money, but because of their sense of civic pride and devotion to the sanctity of the ballot. A lot of these poll workers are elderly, but the life experience of world wars has imprinted on them the importance of the vote. Rarely are they thanked. Sometimes they're verbally abused by the voters they have volunteered to help.
On occasion they are ridiculed by newspaper columnists who believe snotty, sarcastic bullying passes for journalism. It's easy for them to promote the stereotype of the "granny poll worker." Never are they appreciated in the media. In the words of one poll worker, "We know we've done a good job when we read nothing in the papers."
Poll working involves training, sometimes attending several different classes. The hours are long, the rewards are few but the camaraderie is great. The job is not for the faint of heart. It requires a deep respect for the sacrifices made to allow us the freedom of the ballot box. Poll workers understand that a lot of forgotten people died in a lot of horrible ways to give us the right to vote.
Gary West, St. Petersburg
Rest assured, every vote remains secret
Last week a letter writer expressed concern over the privacy of her ballot. While voting in the precinct, she noted the ballot distribution manager (BDM) noted the number of her ballot on a yellow ticket and feared her vote could be tracked. It cannot.
A ballot removed from the pad and given to a voter has no number on it. The notation made by the BDM is used only to keep track of how many ballots are given out. That number should correspond with the number of ballots cast at the precinct at the end of the day.
All voters can feel comfortable asking questions about processes at the precinct. Voter privacy is critically important and poll workers are trained to respect it.
Charlotte Hughes, poll worker trainer, St. Petersburg
Don't be so quick to judge Doghouse Bar, bikers
Where does the letter writer complaining about the new Doghouse Bar get the idea that because the Doghouse is going to have motorcycle runs it will ruin the neighborhood? I don't drink, but I do ride and hang out at these establishments. Most of the times these runs are for someone who has been in an accident, the family of someone who has died or someone very sick. We also have Toys for Tots runs at Christmas to collect toys for underprivileged families.
The bar doesn't stay open 24/7, so there won't be motorcycles up and down Tyrone Boulevard at all hours. Instead of judging someone by what they choose to ride and what they look like, try to visit the place and get to know the people. Who knows, you might make a friend or they could end up holding a motorcycle run to help you or someone you know.
Kim McMullin, St. Petersburg
Centennial celebration deserved more attention
I was surprised and disappointed in the coverage the centennial waterfront celebration received in the Times. It was a major event, with 10 stages with a lot of programming. I expected that it would probably be the cover story on the Weekend section. I was astounded that its only mention was as a free activity in the far rear of the section. Then it was listed as a digest item in the B section, clustered with activities that were nowhere near its scale.
I knew lots of people who had no idea it was occurring. As a result, the turnout was merely okay for an activity that could have been a landmark event. A photo on the front of the Sunday B section was a day late and several dollars short.
Mark Johnson, St. Petersburg
It's sad to see dilapidated state of Fort De Soto Park
We have camped at Fort De Soto Park for 45 years, and our most recent stay was in October.
How sad to see the rundown condition of the park. There is a half-built camp store and dead palm fronds everywhere. The trash containers are old and rusted, as are the fixtures in the bathroom. The showerhead fell off as it was being used. They must no longer spray for bugs as you could not sit out at night.
There is so much overgrowth you cannot make it down to the water in some areas. The grills are not usable.
It is no longer a clean, well-maintained place to go. How sad.
Judy Farr, Clearwater