Lost VotesEditor: Your editorial,''Why Americans Don't...

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

May 21, 1991

Lost Votes

Editor: Your editorial,''Why Americans Don't Vote,'' invites attention to the fact that during the 1988 presidential election 35 million registered voters (of which 563,000 resided in Maryland) did not vote. Not because they did not want to vote but because they couldn't.

The reason was they did not reside at their last known addresses, as listed on the records of their local board of election. This is certainly understandable when you consider that America is a highly mobile society where 40 million people move annually.

Senate Bill 250, known as the 1991 National Voter Registration Act, would bring into the voting process 20 to 50 million additional voters by instituting a new national change of address program, which would continually update and correct voting records.

This federal legislation could help correct the ''Keating 5'' problem and elect more qualified candidates to public office.

Henry C. Marshall.

Clarksville.

More Than Life

Editor: The unaccountable carelessness of the sentencing judge has obliged the Court of Appeals to overturn the second death sentence imposed on Derrick Quinton White for the 1981 murder of Victor Furst.

This must come as a stunning, if not expected, blow to Mr. Furst's family and to the survivors of other victims similarly executed by heedless young men. There is a consideration that might serve to mitigate their pain.

My job is to interview men newly sentenced to state prison and to recommend where they shall serve their time. A long sentence hits a young man pretty hard. Usually he's used to going where he pleases and doing what he wants to do.

It is not life that he values -- another person's or his own -- but freedom. Viewed in this light, many years of incarceration rob him of what he holds dearest.

It may well be an appropriate, and more than adequate, punishment for the taking of an innocent life.

Hal Riedl.

Baltimore.

Area Codes

Editor: Your reader Alphonse Chapanis complains that the telephone company ''deliberately divided the state . . . so as to maximize expense and inconvenience'' in creating the new area code of 401 for the eastern part of Maryland.

Mr. Chapanis unfairly castigates the telephone company for this. What the reader may not know is that the area around Washington has already gone through the trauma of a change in telephone service.

Just a little over a year ago, everyone in the metropolitan area of Washington had to begin using the respective area codes for Maryland, D.C., and Virginia just to make local calls. That meant that close to three-and-one-half million people had to reprogram fax machines, computers, redo stationery, etc.

Joseph B. Rector.

Baltimore.

Cable Tax

Editor: The newly proposed Baltimore County budget appears to include a hidden tax increase for cable television subscribers.

County Executive Roger Hayden has suggested raising the franchise fee paid by Comcast Cable TV to Baltimore County from 3 percent to 5 percent.

This is a pure and simple tax increase, and a whopping one of almost $2 million to those who watch cable television.

Worst of all, the executive and county council will probably get away with it. Just like when the federal government raises the gasoline, liquor and cigarette taxes, most of us end up blaming Exxon, Budweiser and R. J. Reynolds, respectively. But they had nothing to do with it. The government simply chose a politically expedient way to raise taxes. Baltimore County appears to be doing it again.

But there's one big difference: The above products are ones of which the government is trying to reduce consumption. I didn't realize that Baltimore County doesn't want its citizens to watch cable television.

Every time Comcast raises its rates on an annual basis, the county government automatically receives a revenue boost from the existing 3 percent tax. To raise the tax to 5 percent is an unconscionable increase to be borne by all of us.

We want lower taxes, not higher. The executive and county council should not pretend to do one and end up doing the other just because it won't show up that way on our bill. Cable television is important to many of us for its educational, news and entertainment value. It's good for us; taxes aren't.

Michelle Muench.

Timonium.

Health Debate

Editor: The debate on the health care crisis continues at fever pitch.

The antagonists are many, strong and wealthy. The protagonists are few, weak and faint of voice.

It is, therefore, unlikely that national health insurance coverage will become a reality until the crisis becomes a moribund disaster.

Let's explore the army of antagonists:

1. The 1,500 insurance companies most of which are public stock-trading, for-profit industries. They insure a market of approximately 220 million ''satisfied'' subscribers. The insurance lobby distributes millions of dollars in Congress to directly or indirectly support its candidates. It is perhaps the most powerful lobby.

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