Cheers and jeers

Thumbs up to campaign's end, movie shoots; down to alleged ballot-tampering

Cheers — to the end of the 2012 election campaign. And to the privilege of having one. Many of the world's residents don't have a say in choosing those who govern their countries. Despite all the aggravations of the American system, especially in a presidential election year, it's much preferable to not having a voice.

Cheers — to the new ballot-sorting machine that helped Jackson County elections officials speed up the counting of a high-turnout election. The machine, provided to the county with federal Help America Vote funds, scans the bar codes and voter signatures on ballot envelopes, sorts them by precinct and verifies the signatures electronically. The $100,000-plus piece of equipment can handle up to 19,000 ballots an hour.

Jeers — to the news that a Clackamas County election worker was dismissed after she was accused of marking ballots for Republican candidates in races some voters had left blank. Deanna Swenson, 55, had not been charged with a crime as of Tuesday. Tampering with ballots is a Class C felony punishable by up to five years in prison and a $125,000 fine.

Swenson was a temporary election worker who also worked during the 2008 election and perhaps as far back as 2000, according to some news reports.

Cheers — to the Britt Festivals for taking a positive step toward improving concert parking by purchasing two lots in Jacksonville. Eventually, the purchase could provide more than an acre of parking on South First Street, close to the Britt gardens. One lot includes a house, which the festivals will rent out for income to make the property purchase self-sustaining.

Parking in the residential neighborhoods throughout Jacksonville irritates residents, and the city has responded by restricting on-street parking on many blocks. More lot space will be a welcome addition for residents and Britt patrons alike.

Cheers — to the growing number of movies being filmed in Southern Oregon, contributing to the local economy and tying in to the Rogue Valley's vibrant theater scene and the many talented individuals involved in it.

In recent weeks, "Night Moves," starring Dakota Fanning and Jesse Eisenberg, shot scenes in the area, including Porters restaurant in downtown Medford. "Redwood Highway," featuring the famous scenic route and produced by three Ashland-based companies, filmed scenes at Mountain Meadows Retirement Community, among other locations.

Filmmakers say they are drawn to this area because of its beautiful scenery and friendly, welcoming people.

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