Chief defends write-in results in 6th WardIn a letter on...

LETTERS

December 07, 1997

Chief defends write-in results in 6th Ward

In a letter on Nov. 23, Jim Hutchison wrote about his experiences as an election judge at the Eastport Terrace polling place in Annapolis' 6th Ward ("Annapolis vote marred by flaws in write-in").

As chairman of the Annapolis Election Board, I have some observations on his letter.

Annapolis is fortunate to have a large number of civic-minded citizens, including Jim, who are willing to perform the vital work of election judges. Literally, we could not conduct an election without them. It is also important to learn from their experiences.

Although there were legitimate differences of opinion over keeping the polling place at the Eastport Terrace Recreation Center, it is gratifying to learn Jim's opinion that this was a safe and convenient place for voting. This view was shared by other judges, police officers and voters with whom I spoke.

As to the board's counting of write-in votes in the 6th Ward, the guiding principle was to ascertain the intention of the voters. This point was emphasized at a meeting with the candidates held on Oct. 20. At that meeting, it was agreed that the best and clearest evidence of an intent to vote for Cynthia Carter would be writing her full name on the write-in roll.

Mrs. Carter's campaign reflected this understanding, as her campaign literature asked voters to write her first and last name on the paper roll. Moreover, 288 voters did this. There can be no doubt about the intent of these voters.

The problem faced by the board at the canvass was that, for whatever reason, an additional 40 voters simply wrote "C. Carter."

As there is only one "C. Carter" registered to vote in the 6th Ward and this person is Cynthia Carter, a majority of the board was satisfied that the intent of these voters was to select Cynthia Carter as their alderman. This decision was consistent with a resolution on write-in votes adopted in 1989.

No doubt the next board can learn from this experience. However, the board clearly discharged its paramount responsibility of ascertaining the will of the voters. There can be no reasonable doubt that a majority of the voters in the 6th Ward selected Cynthia Carter to represent them on the City Council.

Richard Israel

Annapolis

Who needs schools if we have tests?

I read with interest a letter in the Nov. 24 issue regarding the planned High School Improvement Program ("Students need to be taught, not tested").

The letter stresses that the tests, when implemented in 2004, will be the sole criterion of whether a student graduates. The letter then asks the question, "How can a student be denied a high school diploma based on only one measure of achievement?" That is a very thought-provoking question.

I think I have figured out the drive behind these tests. It's another way to cut the budget. Consider this scenario:

A high school-aged student, or possibly any student for that matter, needs only to pass these tests to be granted a Maryland high school diploma. Therefore, test study guides will be developed, like the SAT and PSAT study guides, and a staff to monitor the administering of the tests will also be created.

If that occurs, then why will we need the schools? Students, when they feel they are ready, will sign up to take the exam the same way that they take the SAT and PSAT exams. Think of the cost savings to the state and county budgets. Although this is sarcastic, you can see where it is going -- a new system and no improvements.

The graduation requirement in place now is correct, an accumulation of credits over four-plus years. To improve the outcome of education in this state and of our graduates, you do not give a final exam covering four-plus years of information. You make corrections to the courses and curriculum being taught in our schools, as well as correcting the teaching methods used for some subjects.

You then periodically test the students, and the teachers, to determine the competency level achieved. Finally, you discipline the students, teachers and administrators who fail to perform to the level required of them. I guess we cannot do it that way because that is the old way things were done and we all know that going backward is not allowed.

It is sad that all of the "baby boomers," of whom I am one, who are advocating the great and wonderful changes that have made the education system what it is not today, were taught using the system I described in the previous paragraph.

Doug von Lindenberg

Glen Burnie

Power deregulation: a call to be careful

Telephone and natural gas have been deregulated. This means you can choose your own supplier for these services. Now we have a competitive marketplace which gives the customer a better choice for service.

In the coming General Assembly session, one of the most important issues will be electricity restructuring. It is a very complex endeavor and must be done right the first time.

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