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Brunswick News: State should not punish elections boards that do their jobs well

Anyone who has been in a team setting is familiar with the concept of punishing everyone for the mistake of one person. In a sports setting, this might mean having the entire team endure some kind of punishment because of one person’s mistake, like making everyone run extra laps after practice.

The idea behind this kind of punishment is to have the person who made the mistake feel bad enough that their transgression caused issues for others that they will not repeat the same mistake again. The effectiveness of this punishment varies, depending on the individual, but it can work as long as the person involved is a true team player.

This appears to be the logic the state legislature used for part of its election overhaul bill last year. Part of that overhaul included a mandate to have one voting machine for every 250 voters.

The change felt necessary as some voters waited in line for hours to cast their ballots in the 2020 presidential election. That plan, however, punishes all due to the failures of a few counties.

Those issues were limited to major metro counties. An analysis conducted by Georgia Public Broadcasting ProPublica found that nine counties — Fulton, Gwinnett, Forsyth, DeKalb, Cobb, Hall, Cherokee, Henry and Clayton — were home to nearly half of the state’s active voters but only 38% of the polling places.

For the record, there are 159 counties in Georgia. Instead of a surgical solution for those counties affected, the legislature took a chainsaw approach for an issue affecting only a handful of counties.

This has not been a problem in Glynn County. Chris Channell, county Elections and Registration director, told the Glynn County Board of Elections that the longest lines in the county were 15 to 20 minutes. Now the state is asking the board to invest more than $200,000 for new machines and the inevitable maintenance the machines — that we don’t need — will require.

This problem could have been avoided at this year’s legislative session with a change to the law to allow counties to subtract the number of voters who cast a ballot during early voting or by mail when calculating how many machines would be needed at the polls on Election Day.

That change didn’t come, and now the board has to consider its options. Does it spend all of this money for machines and maintenance for possibly just one election, or does it risk whatever penalty the state may dole out for failure to comply?

If the state is not keen on changing the election law, perhaps it can consider some kind of reimbursement program to compensate boards that know how to properly run elections instead of punishing them.

Valdosta Daily Times: Curbside recycling makes most sense

We continue to hear from residents who are frustrated with the lack of curbside recycling.

We share that frustration.

We think it is a service the city of Valdosta should provide.

We understand there will always be debate of how much of a difference individuals can make when it comes to protecting the environment but we think residential, consumer recycling is well worth the effort.

The tons and tons of plastics, glass and paper products that are kept out of landfills through residential recycling throughout the nation each year are impressive and we understand most of the material that ends up in landfills is industrial and commercial waste, with household items making up only a very small percentage. That does not mean, however, that each of us should not be doing our part.

Overuse of landfills should not be our only concern. Recycling reduces the strain on natural resources and, in many ways, reduces costs, making the most efficient use of materials already in circulation. Recycling increases overall environmental awareness and that cannot be a bad thing.

Then, there is the fact that the recycling industry itself has created jobs and boosts local economies. Many counties and cities have managed very efficient recycling programs and some have even figured out how to make a little money along the way.

Even if it does not generate revenues, recycling is still more efficient than legacy sanitation models that simply collect and dispose without offsetting any costs through revenue generation.

Yes, it may be difficult to calculate the overall positive impact of residential recycling, but we still believe the relative small effort that it takes is well worth any positive impact it has on the environment. Arguing about how the impact is measured and trying to quantify it may be an interesting academic pursuit but should not be used as a determining factor for consumers who can easily do their part to preserve and reuse natural resources.

The upside to recycling may be debated but there just isn’t much of a downside.

While providing recycling drop-off locations is important and good public service by the city of Valdosta, it is not convenient and, in some cases, not even possible for all residents.

The city offered curbside prior to the pandemic and as everything else has returned to some sense of normalcy, so should the curbside recycling program.

Not providing home pickup of recyclables disproportionally affects people without personal transportation and that’s an issue.

City fathers clearly, and rightly, recognized the public transportation needs in Valdosta and formed a partnership to provide a form of public transit.

Why now ignore that exact same need and challenges by making it virtually impossible for people who do not have a car or truck to carry all their household recyclables to a drop-off location?

If curbside recycling made perfect sense and was the right thing for the city to do prior to the economic shutdown, why does it make any less sense now?

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