Letters To The Editor


March 19, 2006

Optical-scan voting still the best option

I am very concerned about the incomplete and misleading information contained in the editorial "Machine politics" (March 14).

There are no electronic voting systems that are without flaws and vulnerabilities. And there is currently no federal standard that these machines must meet.

However, states are being forced to move toward electronic voting machines as a result of the Help America Vote Act, which mandated, among other things, independent voting for people with disabilities.

Given this dilemma, machines that produce a paper record of the vote are preferable to machines that do not.

Johns Hopkins University professor Avi Rubin has looked at these systems very carefully with funding from a grant from the National Science Foundation. He has found, and has testified, that an optical-scan system - with a requirement for an automatic audit of a percentage of precincts - provides the best option currently available.

Maryland will have a number of hotly contested races this year. They will attract national attention. There may well be calls to recount the vote. But that is not possible with the current Diebold system - which does not permit a review of the ballots.

In surveys, Maryland voters have clearly stated their preference for a paper ballot. The House of Delegates unanimously passed legislation that would accomplish this goal ("Lawmakers debate paper versus electronic voting," March 11), and Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr. has articulated his strong support for a paper ballot.

It is now time for the state Senate, which has a long list of co-sponsors for a bill that would provide for a paper ballot, to move this legislation to a vote.

Mary Howe Kiraly


Feingold finds way to curb Bush abuses

After reading the editorial "Censure stunt" (March 15), I am afraid that The Sun's editors need a little perspective.

It was not so long ago that Congress debated the impeachment, not censure, of a sitting president for lying about a sexual liaison.

This situation involves a sitting president who appears to have willfully violated the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution he is sworn to protect.

The editorial is completely correct that measures need to be taken to address the situation as a whole. However if the recent past is any indication, President Bush will never give the nation a full and honest explanation and the Republican-controlled Congress will not allow his conduct to be fully investigated.

Sen. Russ Feingold's proposal is the only way that the minority party in Congress, which is unable to pass any legislation or initiate any investigation, has to hold Mr. Bush accountable for his actions - something that has not been done in the last six years.

Given the lack of spine in the Democrats, I am sure it will get little to no traction. But Mr. Feingold is giving voice to a growing chorus from citizens who demand that something be done to keep the executive's power in check and hold him accountable.

Is that not why we have separate branches of government?

James Fetters


Distrust of president prompts ports furor

The media has missed the point: The public's outcry at the failed Dubai company effort to take over operations at six U.S. ports is not about a loss of confidence in all Arab countries ("Dubai firm promises port sale," March 16). The outcry and anger are the result of a loss of confidence in the Bush administration.

Since this administration relies on deceit and secrecy and has bungled most of its policies, it is difficult to sit back and allow any foreign and domestic policies without fear and distrust.

I wonder if there would have been such a public outcry had a similar deal occurred under another administration, even after the 9/11 attacks.

Krista Towns


Is the PSC acting to serve the public?

Can anyone clearly explain the purpose and function of the Maryland Public Service Commission and, specifically, how it defines the "public" ("PSC meeting sparking anger," March 16)?

Frankly, its role appears to be that of the fox guarding the chicken coop.

The bottom line here is that greed is paramount.

Hal Cantor


`O'Mazing' distortion of the city's record

Laura Vozzella's column "The mayor's full faith and confidence" (March 15), which includes parts of an interview by Sun reporter Doug Donovan with Mayor Martin O'Malley, was simply "O'Mazing."

How can Mayor Martin O'Malley refer to "the measurement of outcomes" as an achievement, when obviously the measurements needed for the city to move forward (i.e., correct figures on crime, the real number of unwarranted arrests, an accurate accounting for and delivery of services to special education students in Baltimore's schools, etc.) apparently cannot be quantified with any real level of certainty using the "systems" now in place.

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