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OpinionLetters

Letter: Suffolk County election website is unhelpful

A screenshot of the landing page for www.suffolkvotes.com,

A screenshot of the landing page for www.suffolkvotes.com, taken Oct. 10 -- less than a month before the Nov. 6 midterm elections. It provides a list of candidates for 2017's general election, but not for 2018. Photo Credit: Screenshot

Most people believe that an informed electorate is critical for democracy. I wholeheartedly agree.

However, to my surprise and dismay, the website of the Suffolk County Board of Elections, www.suffolkvotes.com, has no mention of which candidates are running for the midterm elections, less than a month away. In fact, as of Wednesday evening, the website still provided a list of November 2017 candidates, and the only mention of Nov. 6, 2018, was that there is indeed a general election on that date.

I had intended to look up candidates and research their policy positions, but without a candidate list this would be arduous. I called the board, and the person I spoke to confirmed that there was no candidate list on the website. She then patiently read me the names and party affiliations of all of the candidates for office, a process that took a good 10 minutes.

Suffolk County voters should know exactly whom they’re voting for, as well as candidates’ stances on key issues.

We cannot blame voters for being uninformed if this is unnecessarily difficult. A simple list of candidates, along with a link to their campaign website (if any), would be of great help in fixing this problem.

Raja Pillai, Port Jefferson Station

Copters not only source of noise

I am grateful that Congress passed a bill to require the Federal Aviation Administration to re-evaluate the North Shore helicopter route [“Bill could bring new copter route,” News, Oct. 5]. Relentless noise erodes the quality of life and threatens health, safety and welfare for those in the path of the helicopters.

However, why do Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and county lawmakers allow the Suffolk County Skeet, Trap & Sporting Clays gun range in Yaphank to remain open? It subjects residents to excessive noise year-round.

John Matthews, Yaphank

Grade-school tests help in high school

My son is a high school senior, deep in the throes of college applications, and has never opted out of state testing [“Long Island is hub for state test opt-outs,” News, Oct. 8].

Many colleges require SAT and ACT scores, while others highly recommend it. I would be very interested to see how students who have opted out of standardized tests in grade school fare when faced with SATs and ACTs. Will they even know how to take these tests? Will they be prepared to sit for such a timed test?

What’s next? Will parents lobby for colleges to not require SAT and ACT scores?

Carrie Byrne, Levittown

Trump and Netanyahu share approaches

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s criticism of the United Nations mirrors President Donald Trump’s scorn for the global community [“Trading criticisms at UN,” News, Sept. 28].

The two world leaders are the closest of friends and allies, and international bullies of the highest order who have put democracies in their respective countries at risk.

Not only do Christian and Muslim Palestinians face discrimination in Israel and the occupied territories beyond anything tolerable in the free world, secular Jews also face increasing marginalization in a country dominated by religious fundamentalism.

Trump’s attacks on the free press suggest the power of a state dictatorship rather than a democracy, and he is also beholden to religious fundamentalists in his country. Highly nationalistic, Trump and Netanyahu pander to the insecurities of their followers. Both are examples of the adage “Might makes right” rather than justice for all.

Harry Katz, Southold

Website accessibility a long-standing issue

The story “Making websites accessible” [Business, Oct. 1] might lead readers to conclude that accessibility for disabled people is a relatively new concern and that there is a lack of standards on this issue. This is not true. The World Wide Web Consortium published guidelines online in 1999 and has repeatedly revised them.

The potential for legal action is not new, either. Target settled a lawsuit brought by the National Federation of the Blind in 2008, and the travel services Ramada.com and Priceline.com reached settlements with New York State to improve their websites in 2004.

Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act covering Web accessibility was enacted in 1998 to require access to information technology resources by disabled people. It was revised in 2017.

While I am glad to see companies try to include disabled people, many organizations started a long time ago.

Robert Siegfried, Oceanside

Editor’s note: The writer is a professor of mathematics and computer science at Adelphi University.

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