Letters To The Editor


March 14, 2004

Public funding frees officials to vote conscience

In their column "Md. should beware false promise of taxpayer funding" (Opinion

Commentary, March 9), Patrick Basham and Martin Zelder point out that public funding of campaigns in Maine has not increased electoral competition in that state. They suggest that the reform is a failure -- and should not be emulated by Maryland. Nothing could be further from the truth.

Advocates of public funding of campaigns in Maryland have never argued that this reform will lead to wholesale ouster of incumbents. Most incumbents do a good job and deserve to be re-elected. In any event, incumbents have lots of advantages over challengers in addition to their fund-raising edge: name recognition, more and better contacts, more experience as campaigners, a proven record, etc.

Thus it is no wonder that incumbents still win re-election 90 percent of the time in Maine (as they do in Maryland).

Progressive Maryland and our allies support election funding reform not because it revolutionizes elections. We support it for the effect it has after the election.

Publicly funded candidates who win owe no favors to deep-pocket special interests. As such, they are freer to vote their conscience, consider legislation on its merits and spend more time talking to voters (and less time raising money).

Sean Dobson

Silver Spring

The writer is deputy director of Progressive Maryland.

Tie contributions to voting district

The editorial "Good government" (March 8) fails, because it isn't enough for the public to become more responsive to lawmakers. Candidates for any office in Maryland should be allowed to accept campaign contributions only from voters and businesses from the districts in which they are running.

That way, lawmakers would have to be more responsive to their constituents.

Edward Berge


Machines must give a record of votes

Experts tell us that computer voting technology is flawed and that if computerized voting machines are used, a credible recount could not be done if one were necessary ("An insider's view of vote vulnerability," Opinion

Commentary, March 10).

As in many political issues, one side says one thing and the other the opposite. But in this case, the solution is so simple that I don't understand why we don't just go for it, for the sake of -- if nothing else -- the credibility of our elections.

The solution is that all computerized voting machines be required to produce paper receipts that could be used if a recount were necessary.

It's not often that a complex national problem can be solved with simple action, but that's the case here.

Linda Black


Suspend balloting on new machines

I'm very concerned about the use of electronic voting machines for the coming elections ("An insider's view of vote vulnerability," Opinion

Commentary, March 10).

Touch-screen voting is subject to flaws and software vulnerabilities. Without a paper trail to corroborate and verify voting results, how can one have any faith that one's vote will be fairly counted?

We should suspend using this questionable, vulnerable technology unless and until a hard copy printout of ballot results can be obtained.

Nancy E. Loeser

Bel Air

Norris' punishment exceeds his crimes

Edward T. Norris may have done something wrong, but his punishment seems heavy-handed ("Norris enters plea of guilty to corruption," March 9).

When I think of the lives he saved and the good work he has done for 24 years, taking away his retirement benefits, his livelihood and his reputation does not fit the crime.

Ellen Remsen Webb


Former police chief deserves prison cell

Edward T. Norris, the city's former top cop, should go to jail and endure the humiliation of rooming with the bad guys he helped put there for stealing, breaking laws and generally causing pain to society ("Norris enters plea of guilty to corruption," March 9).

Anyone who misappropriates citizens' money and spends it on wine, women, lingerie and hotel rooms deserves a strict sentence for his crimes.

He should get a few extra years for being stupid enough to deny his carousing and for causing public pain to his wife.

Judy Chernak


Radical Islam causes animosity of Arabs

In "Arab animosity" (Opinion

Commentary, March 7), William A. Rugh places the entire blame for that animosity on its object, America (actually the Bush administration and Israel). Incredibly, he finds no fault at all with any Arabs; neither does he hint at radical Islam as a possible source of the animosity.

He glosses over the venomous hate that is constantly spewed from Arab official government media, mosques, the "Arab street" and, especially, organized terror organizations, and instead uses the mild euphemisms "animosity," "hostility" and "intense popular anger" to describe his distorted, softer version of it.

Wasn't Sept. 11, 2001, enough to show Mr. Rugh the depth of that hatred and its actual causes?

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