Ballot security needs fixing by '96 electionEllen...

the FORUM

January 12, 1995

Ballot security needs fixing by '96 election

Ellen Sauerbrey's challenge to the outcome of the gubernatorial race should send a clear message to the state board of elections that there are some serious problems that need to be addressed.

The mishandling of voting machine keys, ineligible voters who cast votes, inaccurate records kept by the board of elections and incorrectly filled out absentee ballots all send a very clear message: "You need to clean it up and make some serious changes before the election of 1996."

One item that concerns me is that everyone who registers to vote is given a voter's card, yet for some reason the card is not required in order to vote.

It's never been requested for identification on Election Day. But after it becomes worn in your wallet, the election board will charge you $1 for a replacement that will become just as worn as the first card.

Since I know people in my area and also in the neighborhood where I was raised, I could walk into these polling districts and cast votes without anyone asking for identification.

My father, who is very much alive, could also cast his vote in his district, then come to my district and cast a vote in my name without any question.

If you write a check or use a charge card, identification such as driver's license, employee I.D. or a Motor Vehicles Administration I.D. is usually required.

But when it comes to voting, nothing is required to cast a vote for myself or anyone else.

Thomas A. Simms III

Baltimore

Honoring King

This month, how do we honor Martin Luther King Jr.?

Do we remember that he said, "The dispossessed of this nation -- the poor, both white and Negro -- live in a cruelly unjust society?"

Have we a better understanding of the imperatives of nonviolence, so that we care for our sisters and brothers as we care for ourselves?

Have we learned yet why this man with a Ph.D. died struggling to gain justice for garbage workers?

In this season of "contracts," when politicians cynically exploit our fears and divisiveness, has Dr. King's life work been consigned to the category of "failed, misguided policies" and rendered irrelevant?

If we don't stand up and perhaps take risks for the poor and working people, recognizing that what affects one indeed affects all, then Dr. King might as well not have lived.

Karl Smith

Salisbury

Bootstrap progress

Diane Turner's letter (Jan. 5) had some interesting things to say about how to rid ourselves of those who, for whatever reason, don't take responsibility for their own fate or that of their children and thus impose an unfair burden on taxpayers.

It is an enormous problem. If, as she implies, she pulled herself up by her bootstraps, she is to be commended.

Although I'm not in the highest tax bracket, I too have worked since I was 14.

But where does Ms. Turner propose the money should come from for all the things she recommends -- Norplant, detoxification facilities, reformatories and orphanages, keeping children in school until they receive at least a high school education and custodial care for the homeless mentally ill?

It seems to me that's an awful lot to expect in 1995 -- or in 2005 -- even from the exalted Rep. Newt Gingrich.

Incidentally, has Ms. Turner ever considered that, but for the grace of God, instead of having the good fortune to be in a position to contribute to the eradication of these miseries she herself could be one of the indigent, hopeless, forsaken persons she deprecates?

Sweeping them under the rug will not solve their problems, only aggravate them.

S. Joseph DeMarco

Baltimore

Speaker Newt

Every day I become slightly more astonished at the hypocrisy of the new Republican majority in the House and the curious transformation of Rep. Newt Gingrich from the confrontational, obstructionist, say anything, do anything, mean-spirited minority whip to the statesman and bipartisan bridge-builder he now purports to be as speaker of the House.

Newt Gingrich re-defined the role of minority whip, vigorously and efficiently slam-dunking every idea offered by Democrats -- from domestic issues to foreign policy -- with a barrage of negative sound bites and partisan spin doctoring.

It seems that his sole purpose in Congress was to erode confidence in the president, foster an alarming contempt for the first lady, turn the word liberal into a synonym for "chump" and, in general, create a climate where it's OK for a senator to openly threaten the president and make remarks that border on treason without fear of being censured by his colleagues.

Now the shoe is on the other foot, and Republicans, especially Gingrich, are astounded that leading Democrats are not embracing every point in their nebulous "Contract with America."

I wonder what Gingrich the whip would say to Gingrich the speaker about backing off on denying welfare to legal immigrants. Gingrich the whip would say Gingrich the speaker is weak and waffling on one of the promises that got him elected.

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