Today’s news:

Signs of the Times

Proposed legislation requiring store owners to post signs in English may appear to infringe on the owners’ First Amendment rights. The legislation was introduced by Councilman Dan Halloran, whose district covers Bayside, Whitestone and College Point. The legislation will have the greatest impact in nearby Flushing, with its large Asian business district.

Halloran defended the legislation at a town hall meeting last week. “This way our public officials will not have their lives endangered by not knowing where they’re going,” he said.

Beyond the safety issues, putting signs in English is a matter of simple courtesy. Even if a business targets Korean or Chinese patrons, adding signs in English will say everyone is welcome. If everyone is not welcome, that is a problem.

Going Backward on Election Day

On Tuesday, voters across the state will go to the polls to elect a new governor and state attorney general and new Congress members and state legislators. When they do, they will cast their votes on paper ballots.

That’s right. As the few voters who showed up on Primary Day know, the new voting system in 2010 uses a paper ballot. Once the ballot is marked at a station that offers minimal privacy, the voter takes the ballot to a scanning machine.

The voter is instructed to fill in the oval under a candidate’s name — except in New York City, where the Board of Elections has mistakenly printed instructions telling voters to fill in the oval above the candidate’s name. If voters put an X in the oval or do not black it out properly, their vote will not count.

On Primary Day, poll workers helped voters feed their ballots into scanners. That raised privacy concerns.

Who thought this was a good idea? In the 21st century, millions of dollars were spent to take New York back to the paper ballot. Couldn’t the state have come up with a touch-screen, computerized system?

For a number of reasons, Mayor Michael Bloomberg called the BOE’s performance in the primary “a royal screw-up.” The BOE then spent $90,000 to take a telephone survey of 700 voters that proved you liked the new system despite published reports to the contrary.

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