Letters to editor for Monday, Oct. 26, 2020

Letter writers, Gannett
Published 6:00 a.m. ET Oct. 26, 2020

A vote to make registering easier

The crash of Florida’s online voter registration website on the last day to register, due to a surge of potential voters wanting to participate in the Nov. 3 election, suggests an important voting reform for the next sessions of the Legislature and Congress.

It is intolerable that the voter registration website crashed for the fifth time, and of course it must be fixed. But the law requiring registration 29 days prior to an election also needs fixing. At least 21 states allow voters to register and vote on Election Day or any day of early voting.

Opponents will claim, as they do with regard to every reform making voting easier and more accessible, that same-day registration will lead to fraud. But anyone who registers on Election Day or early voting day must provide proof of residency and identity, as they must do a month before an election.

If we want to strengthen our democracy by increasing participation in elections, allowing voters to register and cast a ballot in a single trip to a polling location on Election Day or at an early voting site would be the most effective voting reform that would improve our low turnout rate.

(From the former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Florida.)

Howard L. Simon, Sanibel

Another vote for Forbes in Bonita

My wife and I have known our city councilman, Fred Forbes, since 2010. Fred and his wife, Carolyn, regularly attend our church. Fred Forbes has done a tremendous amount for all our communities east of Interstate 75, as a former fire commissioner and now the primary community leader.

His training as an engineer and architect, plus his experience, has been a significant advantage in getting our water cleaned up. He was able to sort out which flooding projects are cost-effective. He looked at using FEMA grants to buy out willing sellers and assist others to get a small grant plus a low-interest 30-year mortgage to elevate their homes.

I know he saved us $1.6 million by getting the city and its design build contractor to renovate the Imperial River Bridge using his design concept rather than the design they were pursuing. He even helped a resident get his unemployment claim successfully resolved.

Fred has been president of our homeowners association and made numerous contributions to improve the quality of life here in our community. Fred brings balance, knowledge and experience to our City Council, which is an advantage for all of us in controlling costs, keeping our taxes low and making useful improvements to our community. We encourage voters to re-elect Fred Forbes to the City Council.

Rick Wilkins, Bonita Springs

Harder to amend constitution?

Amendment 4 is listed as a citizen’s initiative to keep Florida’s constitution “clean.” If passed, amendments to the constitution would need to be passed by a supermajority (60%) in two general elections. It is not clear who funded this initiative.

Our current constitution passed in 1968 and has been amended 140 times. There are three ways to amend it; citizen initiative, legislative referral and constitutional convention.

Some of the 140 amendments might seem unnecessary or even frivolous, but it is the sole avenue available to citizens. Citizen initiatives have delivered meaningful reform in the following areas: water and land conservation, limits on political gerrymandering, legalization of medical marijuana and restoration of voting rights.

Passing this amendment would hamper our ability to enact change, increase the time and money necessary to propose amendments when the Legislature does not pass strongly desired legislation, and would give well-funded and special-interest groups a second chance to undo citizen’s initiatives they do not agree with.

A more equitable manner of encouraging citizen participation would be to allow the process of statute initiatives for citizens. Vote “no” on Amendment 4.

Patricia Howard, North Naples

Thanks for extending mask order

Thank you to Commissioners Solis. Saunders and Taylor for showing leadership by wearing masks at the special meeting to discuss extending the mask mandate for Collier County and for voting to extend this mandate until April 13, 2021.

Shame on Commissioners McDaniel and Fiala for doing neither. Your callous disregard for the well-being of those around you will not be forgotten.

To those business owners who are concerned that this mandate will drive people away from Collier County businesses, I disagree. In fact, it would be smart marketing to advertise Collier County as a place in Florida that puts the safety of its employees, customers and community first by enforcing the wearing of masks in their businesses.

I will patronize only those places that enforce the wearing of masks indoors by employees and customers. I know others who feel the same way.

Let’s make Collier County the destination of choice for those who are smart enough and caring enough to choose wisely where to spend their money.

Barbara Owen, East Naples

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