Letters To The Editor

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

April 01, 2007

Same-day sign-up boosts voter turnout

In The Sun's report on "Maryland's missing voters" (March 25), Kimball Brace of Election Data Services correctly notes that Election Day registration can boost voter turnout by 7 percent to 9 percent. But he also says that it presents "enormous complications" for election officials. This is simply not true.

Election Day registration, which is the law in seven states and is close to passing in Iowa and elsewhere - is no more complicated than many other election reforms. If a state can run elections well, it can also run same-day registration well.

The process sometimes requires additional staffing on Election Day. But that cost is usually offset by a reduction in the amount of staff needed to process voter registrations in the weeks before elections.

A recent survey my group conducted of election administrators in states with Election Day registration found that administrators find it no more complicated than any other election procedure.

Many polling places in these states simply have separate lines for same-day registrants.

Indeed, in my own polling place in New Hampshire, I've never seen a delay or complication because of registration.

Election Day registration can be a powerful reform. Even the modest 5 percent increase many experts predict as a result of it would have brought over 180,000 additional voters to Maryland last fall.

Maryland's voters deserve Election Day registration, and democracy would be better for it.

Stuart Comstock-Gay

Boston

The writer is director of the Demos Democracy Program and a former executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland.

Tuition break betrays the voters

Let me see if I've got this right. If you are an American citizen and a legal resident of a state other than Maryland, you must pay a premium price to attend a Maryland state college or university. But if you are here illegally and a legal resident of a foreign country, the taxpayers of Maryland would, under a bill the governor has endorsed, subsidize your education by letting you pay in-state tuition rates to attend a state college or university ("O'Malley boosts tuition measure," March 29).

Is this a bad dream? If not, it's bad legislation.

At a time of looming billion-dollar deficits and a crisis of confidence in government in general, I am shocked into near disbelief by this stealth spend-and-tax plan from our new state government.

I fail to see how this giveaway to illegal aliens keeps faith with the voters.

I want my vote for the Democratic slate back.

Vince Elliott

Hunt Valley

If you are an American citizen who lives in Pennsylvania, you pay out-of-state tuition rates to attend Maryland state colleges and universities.

But if you are an illegal immigrant from Mexico, you would, under a measure just passed by the House of Delegates, pay in-state rates, which are about half the out-of-state rates.

This is an example of a legislature that has run amok.

Where is the outrage?

Mike Peck

Perry Hall

Inconsistency on illegal aliens

On Thursday, The Sun published two articles about illegal immigrants.

The one on the front page contained the following passage: "Gov. Martin O'Malley pledged yesterday to sign a bill allowing some illegal immigrants to pay in-state tuition at public universities in Maryland" ("O'Malley boosts tuition measure," March 29).

Yet on the front page of the Maryland section, there was an article about the owner of a Baltimore restaurant receiving a five-month jail term for hiring illegal workers ("Illegal hiring draws 5 months," March 29).

What's going on here?

Bart Kinlein

Ellicott City

Exposing the poor to investors' avarice

Hypocrisy is the most apt word for the actions of Maryland elected officials (local and state) who claim to have worked so diligently to end the exploitive and abusive practice of ground rent in Baltimore while ignoring a similar system of bilking taxpayers out of their homes for debts less than $500 (i.e., for water, sewage, citations, local fees, etc.) ("Small unpaid bills put residents at risk," March 25).

Such practices are tantamount to usury or grand theft and should be viewed in the same way.

The additional insult of suggesting that selling collection rights to investors who buy properties at annual auctions is somehow a means by which properties can be put back in the hands of people who will return them to the tax rolls is preposterous - as more than 80 percent of the properties in Baltimore that were bid on at such auctions were occupied, with 40 percent having values of $50,000 or more.

City, county and state governments have exposed their citizens to abuse by granting carpetbagging investment firms the capacity to legally take homes from the working poor.

Although the legislature claims it has now closed the front door to new ground rents ("New ground rents are made illegal," March 23), it has neglected to close and lock the back door to those fleecing the little guy with foreclosure actions over water bills, citations and other small debts.

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