Letters To The Editor


December 02, 2007

Fund the transition to scanned ballots

The Sun's editorial urging the governor to fund the paper ballot bill was right on point ("Another voting glitch," Nov. 26). However, two of the issues the editorial raised need clarification.

On the issue of voting access for the disabled, it is worth noting that optical-scan systems can be made more accessible to disabled voters through a ballot-marking device such as the AutoMark system.

This device is designed to help blind or vision-impaired voters and those with arthritis, Parkinson's or age-related illnesses or even a broken arm to vote independently in privacy.

And while optical-scan ballots can be more reliable than the touch-screen machines, all voting systems can make mistakes.

But the optical-scan system provides a paper ballot that can be counted independently.

Indeed, to make our voting system as reliable as possible, there should be routine audits of a percentage of the votes in every precinct. This would enable election judges to know whether the machines are counting votes properly.

If the machine counts are inaccurate, the paper ballots should be counted and be the ballot of record.

In addition to all of these improvements, the optical-scan system will save Maryland money because we need only one such machine per precinct rather than five to 10 touch-screen machines.

The Sun is right - "Maryland needs a voting system with a paper trail" - and Gov. Martin O'Malley should fund the paper ballot bill.

Kevin Zeese


The writer is the director of TrueVoteMd.org.

Return of refugees could destroy Israel

In "Silence speaks loudly in Annapolis" (Nov. 28), Gregory Kane suggests that he heard the peace process begin unraveling when Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert mentioned that he had come from Jerusalem and failed to mention the 1948 U.N. resolution calling on Israel to allow Arabs who fled Israel to return.

But Jerusalem is to Jews what Mecca is to Muslims. West Jerusalem was part of Israel before Israel captured East Jerusalem.

And it was Arabs who rejected the United Nations' 1947 designation of Jerusalem as an international city and drove out the many Jews who lived in East Jerusalem. Still, the Israeli prime minister has not ruled out sharing East Jerusalem with Arabs.

As to the "right" of Arabs to return to Israel, that right effectively ended when between 700,000 and 900,000 Jews fled or were expelled from many Arab countries where Jews had lived for centuries. But we do not hear about the Jewish refugees and their descendants because they were assimilated into Israel and other nations.

The Arab League decided to keep Arab refugees in camps near Israel to facilitate attacks on Israel and the repatriation of refugees upon Israel`s destruction.

The call for repatriation of Arab refugees and their descendants is really another way of calling for the destruction - through demographic change - of Israel.

Steve Cohen


Perhaps Arab states can repay refugees

Most of the time I agree with what Gregory Kane says. But it's a little difficult not to respond to his column "Silence speaks loudly in Annapolis" (Nov. 28).

The fledgling state of Israel invited the Arab residents to stay and live in peace with the rest of the population. But most of the Arabs chose to flee when Arab armies invaded.

Israel has fought four wars to defend itself. The loss of life was staggering.

If compensation is in order, it certainly should not be Britain or Israel that ought to pay.

Maybe the Arab countries that fought Israel should compensate the refugees.

Jack Rosay


Why can Israel flout U.N. resolutions?

Thanks to Gregory Kane for pointing out to readers how Israel continues to flagrantly flout U.N. Resolution 194, which grants Palestinian refugees the right of return to their homes ("Silence speaks loudly in Annapolis," Nov. 28).

Apparently, when Israel violates U.N. resolutions, American leaders view that as fine and gladly reward Israel with billions of dollars in aid.

But when U.S. leaders decide Iraq has violated U.N. resolutions, hundreds of thousands of Iraqis get killed along with thousands of Americans.

Paul Baroody


Pentagon a reliable JHU funding source

The new provost at the Johns Hopkins University, Kristina Johnson, repeats a shibboleth about the university being the nation's No. 1 research institution and the university therefore being critically vulnerable to cuts in federal funding given its relatively small endowment ("Thinking systematically," Nov. 25).

Johns Hopkins occupies the top rank because of its Applied Physics Laboratory, an off-campus center whose work is heavily devoted to military research and development, much of which is secret and has nothing to do with educating students.

While money for other kinds of work for which Johns Hopkins is esteemed - medicine, various fields in the humanities - is indeed subject to shifting political winds in Washington, the APL's funding is about as financially secure as such funding can be.

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