Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

March 13, 2006

Paper trail needed to stop vote fraud

Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. should be applauded for stressing the importance of a paper trail in this year's voting ("House passes paper ballot bill," March 10).

Maryland's rich history of voter fraud and its recent enactment of some of the most radical voting changes in the country require this sensible approach to ensuring fairness at the ballot box this year.

Under the voting law changes, there no longer will be an Election Day but instead an election week, with early voting required for five days before the official Election Day.

The changes also permit absentee voting on demand; Maryland law had previously required a voter actually to be absent for some reason to vote by absentee ballot.

The most disturbing of the recent voting changes, however, allows voters to vote for statewide office anywhere in Maryland by provisional ballot, without proper identification.

The new voting measures are a recipe for disaster and voter fraud in Maryland. The governor is right in pushing for a paper trail at the ballot box to prevent fraud.

Some of the governor's political opponents are refusing to acknowledge this problem, while they complain that Mr. Ehrlich's call for a paper trail is inconsistent with his so-called endorsement of electronic voting machines in the past.

These critics fail to mention that the governor's so-called endorsement of the electronic system slated for use in this year's election came before the enactment of the radical voting changes that invite fraud.

The governor's call for accountability in Maryland's voting system is nothing more than a common-sense response to the realities of an election system gone awry.

The delegates and senators in Annapolis should put the people's rights above politics and work with the governor in a bipartisan manner to ensure that everyone will have confidence in the election system in Maryland this year, before it's too late.

Douglas W. Thiessen

West River

Denying franchise to felons is wrong

Sasha Abramsky is exactly right in his column "It's undemocratic to deny ex-felons the right to vote" (Opinion * Commentary, March 8): The ex-felon has served the sentence meted out by society. And voting is a right. It is not merely a privilege, like driving a car.

Granting all ex-felons, no matter what their offense, the right to vote would not harm public safety. It might even enhance it by removing pariah status from ex-felons.

Early in the history of the United States and England, only male property owners had voting rights. But 21st-century America purports to be a fuller democracy.

We have seen repeated attempts of some Southern states to disenfranchise blacks to preserve the status quo.

Denying voting rights to ex-felons has a similar aim, and is just one more affront to democracy.

Dorian R. Borsella

Fallston

Port deal reaction betrays real racism

Racism is a powerful emotion. It's a sad day when national politicians exploit this fear-based hate for their personal gains. And it's just as disappointing to see the media play to these same politicians' opportunism and fan the hatred ever more.

As the story about the sale of some port operations to a Dubai-based company broke, every news outlet seemed to speak of an Arab country taking over U.S. ports.

Few chose to mention that control of U.S. ports was not involved, just the operation of terminals, which would be staffed by current personnel and run by a company that has a stellar record of security ("Dubai firm to shed stake in U.S. ports," March 10).

Yet once our political sharks smelled blood in the water, they couldn't stop themselves.

President Bush relied on this same anti-Arab prejudice to justify his invasion of Iraq, and these same sentiments are blinding the United States with regard to Iran and Palestine.

Globalism has its benefits, but it also has its responsibilities.

Arbitrariness based on prejudice will surely backfire - perhaps through a decision by Dubai not to buy billions of dollars of Boeing jets or a decision by the Arab world not to subsidize the U.S., or to build closer ties to China.

The United States cannot afford to write off the Muslim world. And it cannot ground its foreign policy on racism.

Tom O. Smith

Baltimore

Pact with India sets bad example

In her column "Giving nuclear green light to `good guys' sends wrong signal to `bad guys'" (Opinion * Commetary, March 5), Trudy Rubin raises important questions about President Bush's proposed nuclear deal with India.

The answer to her questions is simple: Congress should reject the deal because it would undermine our fragile defenses against mankind's greatest enemy - the threat of nuclear war.

For decades, statesmen in many governments have labored to reduce the risk of nuclear catastrophe by negotiating and strengthening the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The treaty achieved a delicate balance between the benefits of nuclear energy assistance and the temptation to acquire nuclear weapons.

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