Monday, June 11

NC7 Letter to County Commission on Polling Place Consolidation

Neighborhood Council 7
PO Box 5021 * Great Falls, MT 59403
Representing the Lower North and South Sides of Historic Great Falls
June 11, 2007

Cascade County Board of Commissioners
The Honorable Joe Briggs
The Honorable Lance Olson
The Honorable Peggy Beltrone
525 2nd Avenue North, Room 111
Great Falls, MT 59401

Dear Commissioners Briggs, Olson and Beltrone;

We write today to address your recent decision to consolidate polling locations in Great Falls to the fairgrounds. Quite simply, we believe that this decision will serve as a detriment to the people in downtown Great Falls and will discourage them from voting. We encourage and ask you to revisit that decision.

We understand and agree that this move will make things easier for the administration of the election. However, we suggest to you that some difficult things are worth the effort. Neighborhood polling is one of these things.

Winston Churchill once said that “democracy is the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time.” He was right; it is a messy and complicated business to keep an election running smoothly. However, that does not mean that we should abdicate our efforts. It would surely be easiest to not have an election at all.

The 7,000 people that live within the borders of Neighborhood Council 7 are the ones that are least likely to own vehicles or other modes of transportation. They are also the population most likely to throw up their hands at any complications in their voting process. Mail ballots are not the answer. If this decision moves forward, we believe that it will result in the de facto disenfranchisement of many of our downtown residents.

Again, we ask you to revisit this decision. We submit to you that neighborhood polling places are inherently beneficial. They encourage local civic discussion and participation. Please do not eliminate this benefit just to gain a little efficiency.


Aaron Weissman
Mike Taylor
Erin Tropila
Donna Sadler


Anonymous said...

Dear Mr. Councilman,

Hopefully the Cascade County Commissioners will disregard NC7's letter, because it is not within the scope of NC7's authority to spend time and energy on making recommendations to county officials. It is, however within NC7's authority to "contribute information, opinions, advice, suggestions and recommendations to the City Commission, City Manager and other City advisory bodies on all governmental affairs and services having an effect on the area the neighborhood council represents, including, but not limited to, public finance, public works, public safety, planning and zoning, and public health and sanitation."

If you don't believe me, read the Municipal Code for yourself.

I congratulate Councilman Gaskell for not signing the letter.

a-fire-fly said...

With all due respect, I support the letter and the intent behind it. It certainly seems to contribute the wishes of a organized sector of the City, it is a govornmental affair with significant impact on the area the neighborhood council represents, and the time and energy spent by these folks on it, is theirs to give.
I don't agree that a neighborhood council should be barred from making opinions, advice, suggestions or recommendations on where the residents it represents wish to vote.
The County Commissioners made the decision, who else NC7 supposed to write to?

Anonymous said...

Mr. Councilman,

One little but possibly big thing you might point out to the City Manager is the tripping hazard on the sidewalk on 9th St. S. near Riddle's Jewelry. It's an end of a pipe that protrudes about 2 inches above the surface of the sidewalk, near the alley. It's been this way for years. AND WATCH OUT! IF YOU RIDE YOUR BIKE ON THE SIDEWALK ON THE NORTH SIDE OF 2ND AVENUE NORTH BETWEEN 7TH AND 8TH STREETS!

On poor and/or carless voters getting to the new consolidated poll: May they prove you wrong! Let's give the County Commissioners a little credit for a good idea! And now some people won't have to go to Protestant churches to vote. Rather than being critical of the current count commisioners, you really ought to wonder about the state of mind of former county commissioners.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Aaron, can God make a rock so heavy he can't lift it?