Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

October 20, 2004

Md. must install paper audit trail to secure votes

The recent public relations exercise by the Maryland Board of Elections ("Electronic machines, ballots to face off in test," Oct. 13) does not guarantee that the state's paperless electronic voting machines will perform with 100 percent accuracy on Election Day, as the board has claimed. The hundreds of failures of electronic voting machines across the country have all occurred after the machines had been certified and tested for accuracy.

The limitations of testing for accuracy are the reason why Nevada has installed a voter-verified paper ballot audit trail for its touch-screen voting machines. The failure of electronic slot machines to detect a "Trojan horse" program during their testing contributed to the recommendation for a paper audit trail for the state's electronic voting machines.

And while testing of the machines can detect some problems, the Maryland Board of Elections' announcement of a parallel testing program on Election Day raises the question of what will happen if the test shows that the machines are not performing accurately.

A voter-verified paper ballot audit trail on every machine and mandatory audits after the polls close are the ways to restore citizens' confidence in our election system.

Robert Ferraro

Burtonsville

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

Lack of state church protects all religions

The Sun's article on the Supreme Court's review of the Ten Commandments display issue failed to make a salient point: The separation of church and state was put in the Constitution to protect religious freedom ("Justices to review Commandment displays," Oct. 13).

Many of the early settlers of our country were fleeing persecution in England and in other European countries from state religions.

Any religion would be making a serious mistake to mess with that freedom.

Bill Moulden

Frederick

Ten Commandments are far from `secular'

The Sun's article "Justices to review Commandment displays" (Oct. 13) quotes assertions that the "secular message" of the Ten Commandments overrides their religious character in decisions regarding their government-sponsored display, and that the Commandments formed the foundation of the American legal tradition.

In fact, three of the 10 Commandments are wholly religious in nature. Three address legal infractions, two criminal (theft and murder) and one a civil law issue (slander or libel). And the remaining four deal with disrespect, betrayal and desire - good advice on matters outside the scope of law.

That's 30 percent religion, 30 percent law and 40 percent moral advice.

But it's that first 30 percent that must not be preferred, endorsed or sponsored by the state.

Jeffry D. Mueller

Eldersburg

The next president can control the court

I have been puzzled and distressed that so little attention has been paid over the last few months to the effect that the presidential election will have on the makeup of the Supreme Court. But Cynthia Tucker's column "A Supreme decision" (Opinion * Commentary, Oct. 18) speaks forcefully to this concern.

Whichever candidate becomes president is likely to make at least two appointments to the court.

The people put onto the court will make a difference in the future of this country for at least 20 years, and maybe longer. To vote without taking this into account could lead to a loss of many of the freedoms we now (almost) take for granted.

Joan K. Parr

Baltimore

Journalist's integrity withstands pressure

Jon Leiberman took a gutsy stand against Sinclair Broadcast Group, knowing full well it could cost him his job (which it did) ("Sinclair fires D.C. chief who spoke out," Oct. 19). Mr. Leiberman's refusal to be bullied into promoting a politically motivated anti-Kerry movie as "news" reveals his journalistic integrity and high moral standards.

Several years ago, I met Mr. Leiberman, who was dining with a friend at a restaurant, and thought, "What a nice guy."

Now I know he is also an ethical and professional news reporter who will always tell the real story even under tremendous pressure.

Pam Himmelrich

Baltimore

Honest newsman has earned a new job

I was saddened to read that Jon Leiberman has lost his job as Washington bureau chief for Sinclair Broadcast Group ("Sinclair fires D.C. chief who spoke out," Oct. 19).

He was certainly one of the most trusted voices and brightest stars of that news organization. Unfortunately, it seems Sinclair is unable to distinguish between partisan politics and a polished journalist.

I'm certain that its loss will be another news organization's gain very quickly. Good reporters such as Mr. Leiberman don't stand idle for long.

John Tully

Baltimore

Even though Sinclair Broadcast Group fired Jon Leiberman, I find it admirable that there is an ethical, moral and honest man around who stands up for his principles.

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