Saturday Mailbox

SATURDAY MAILBOX

September 11, 2004

Election Board hasn't protected the state's voters

In a real democracy, the administration of the election system should be so transparent and open to public scrutiny that no advantage could result from its control by one political party or another.

However, if the election system is like the one in Maryland, and does not allow citizens to verify the accuracy of their recorded votes or allow for a recount or audit of the machine tallies, maybe there is a distinct advantage to exerting political control over the elections bureaucracy.

And the partisan squabble over the position of Board of Elections administrator is even more unseemly than it seems because it does not address the widespread concerns of Marylanders for a trustworthy system ("Judge restores Lamone to post," Sept. 8).

As The Sun's editorial "Elections target" (Aug. 30) pointed out, the one complaint about the performance of administrator Linda H. Lamone that is warranted concerns the state's failure to provide a paper audit trail for our electronic voting machines.

The full Board of Elections agrees with Ms. Lamone on paperless ballots, however, and the state's Republican governor and the Democratic leadership of the General Assembly failed to insist on a paper trail even though studies by experts recommended one.

Ms. Lamone is surely at fault for her inaction in the face of numerous reported examples of machine malfunction, but the Board of Elections also did nothing in response to these malfunctions unique to electronic voting systems.

With an enormously important presidential election approaching, Maryland is rearranging the deck chairs on our Titanic of a voting system.

What will be the fate of our democracy when we run into the inevitable "iceberg" of fraud or malfunction without the lifeboat of a paper audit trail?

Robert Ferraro

Burtonsville

The writer is co-director of the Campaign for Verifiable Voting in Maryland.

The war on drugs can never be won

In addition to his "Believe" campaign, Mayor Martin O'Malley has now unveiled more of his anti-drug propaganda ("Mayor unveils new effort on reporting drug activity," Sept. 4). But what are we to believe in? That the drug dealers, the homicides and the violence simply will go away?

I think not. It doesn't take a genius to figure out that the prohibited drug trade, along with our lax gun laws, are the main causes of the violence plaguing our city streets.

Until the mayor wakes up and realizes that our war on drugs will never be won, all of those anti-drug ads will never do any good.

Billions of tax dollars are wasted every year on this war we will never win, which has failed to keep drugs away from our children, schools and jails.

Drug legalization must be implemented immediately. It is vital to the future, safety and economy of our country.

Prohibition of alcohol didn't work during the 1920s. The same goes for drugs; they are here to stay, and we must be constructive in our ideas on how to deal with them.

We need to take back our streets from the drug dealers and stop the death and destruction along with the shattering of lives that drug prohibition is causing.

Morris Scheindlinger

Baltimore

More jobs for kids could cut carnage

The Sun's article "To reduce homicides, Boston fights back" (Aug. 30) really didn't explore sufficiently an area that may explain why the homicide rate in Boston, which had reached 46 for the year at the time the article was published, is much less than the one in Baltimore, which is on a pace to be about the same as last year's homicide count of 271.

In the closing paragraphs, the article noted the helpful role in Boston of a summer youth employment program that was extended to cover the two weeks before school begins, when violence seems to increase if community activities aren't available.

Good jobs that give folks the means to support themselves and their families and give youths hope for a better future would seem to be an important thing for cities to support.

And it would be helpful to see more articles on what the city is doing to target jobs for youths in our city and to see if employment opportunities could play a role in getting the city homicide rate down.

Dave Schott

Baltimore

Let everyone earn a decent living

The Sun's editorial "Trickle down" (Sept. 1) was right on the money. The rich are getting richer, while the rest of the U.S. work force is sliding backward. The economy is humming, but jobs are scarce, and they are often part-time jobs with low pay.

Using Census data, The Sun accurately points out the systemic inequities of the free-market economy, but declines to suggest any solutions.

For the life of me, I can't see the objection to providing gainful employment for anyone willing to work and fair compensation for his or her labor, as well as access to the health care coverage that any government official or mid-level manager in the private sector enjoys as a given.

This would surely be more cost-effective and less demeaning than welfare reform.

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