LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

THE BALTIMORE SUN

Recount in Ohio will help restore integrity of vote

Jules Witcover is confused about why presidential candidates David Cobb of the Green Party and Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party have launched their legal effort to have Ohio presidential votes recounted ("Recount in Ohio," Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 26).

President Bush's re-election might not be in doubt, but the votes of many voters in Ohio and other states are, according to thousands of complaints about obstructed votes, wrongful disqualifications, malfunctioning voting machines and other irregularities.

The recount, for which Mr. Cobb and Mr. Badnarik have already collected more than $250,000 in donations and engaged more than 1,000 volunteers, probably won't alter the outcome of the 2004 election. But it deserves support because it's the best way to test and begin repairing the integrity of our elections and to ensure every vote is counted.

And if one result of the recount is auditable paper ballot trails for all computer voting machines in Ohio, that will be a victory for all voters.

For the Democratic Party's leadership and candidate Sen. John Kerry, who quickly conceded the election, the lesson of Florida in 2000 seems to be that controversy must be avoided at all costs.

For those of us in the Green Party, the lesson is that we need to fight for the right to vote, for accurate vote counts and for the future of our democracy.

Scott McLarty

Washington

The writer is media coordinator for the Green Party of the United States.

It's time to bring democracy to Ohio

The column "Validate the vote" (Opinion * Commentary, Nov. 26) by Ian H. Solomon, associate dean of Yale Law School, should be read by everyone who believes fair elections are essential to democracy.

The president talks of bringing democracy to Iraq via a fair election. Good luck on that. But I wish I thought he had as much interest in bringing democracy to Ohio.

What do you have when people in low-income urban districts are effectively disenfranchised because the voting machines are too few, antiquated or malfunctioning?

And if we can't have an election process we can trust, where are we?

If voting in Ukraine may be redone because of perceptions of fraud that altered the results, why can't the same thing be done in Ohio?

Surely, we deserve fairness and democracy here as much as they do in the former Soviet Union and Iraq. Don't we?

Kenneth A. Stevens

Savage

Hold Iraq's elections over a series of days

Having the entire country of Iraq vote on one day will require our military and security forces to cover all of Iraq on election day ("Iraqi leaders urge 6-month election delay," Nov. 27). Wouldn't spreading our forces so thin make it easier for the terrorists?

Why don't we and Iraq's interim government divide the country into voting regions and assign each a different voting day?

This would allow our military forces to provide a massive and credible deterrent against violence in the region voting on any given day.

Such a show of concentrated force is the most practical step we can take to reduce violence and encourage voter turnout.

John Dziwulski

Baltimore

Little compassion for those who suffer

While President Bush claims that he cherishes compassion and family values, his actions regarding medical marijuana baffle me ("Drug case highlights power struggle," Nov. 29). Where is the compassion in keeping very ill American citizens from easing their pain and suffering with marijuana?

I do not see "family values" in enforcing drug laws written before the medical benefits of marijuana were known.

And in the case before the court, Angel Raich, a very ill mother of two, may die prematurely and lose valuable time with her children thanks to the "compassionate conservatism" of this administration.

Wendy Olsson

Baltimore

Selling slots licenses is a bad bet for state

The Sun is correct in warning the state against selling gambling licenses too cheaply ("The slots fix," editorial, Nov. 29). I would advise the state not to sell but own outright its gambling concessions.

And I suggest that a comparison be made of the return to citizens where casinos are privately held (e.g. Atlantic City) and where the owners are governments (e.g. various Indian nations and Monaco).

Gary F. Suggars

Baltimore

Stop discriminating against non-drivers

The article "One-car families go the distance" (Nov. 22) brought back nostalgia for the days when one car sufficed for the family and children got around by foot, bicycle and public transportation.

Houses were much more affordable then, in part because they rarely came with two- or three-car garages.

Families, if they wished, could manage on one paycheck, and work weeks were shorter - allowing families more time for socializing.

One way to reduce sprawl and our escalating cost of living would be to stop discriminating against people who walk, use public transportation and bicycle.

I commend Christopher Field, and others like him, for his resourcefulness in keeping a bicycle at both ends of his commute - enabling him to save money, get exercise and make constructive use of his time on the MARC train instead of fighting traffic and breathing exhaust.

Let's reduce obesity by teaching bicycle safety in school and supporting the campaign for safe walking and bicycling routes to school and encouraging participation.

In short, let's change our thinking to accommodate people, regardless of how they wish to travel.

Jeffrey H. Marks

Baltimore

Gay participation won't alter marriage

There is only one institution in this country called marriage ("Mass. case rejected but likely to return," Nov. 30).

Currently, it is a word that describes the sanctifying of a relationship between two loving and committed adults. It is also the status that grants these two individuals a whole array of rights and responsibilities to each other and the families they may raise, if they choose to do so.

What is commonly referred to as the "marriage debate" is the public's varying opinions on whether gay and lesbian Americans in loving and committed relationships, who may also be raising families, have a right to the same rights and responsibilities.

We have already sanctified our relationships in other ways, among our families and friends and with God's blessing. We are just asking for the state to recognize this fact.

Marriage is still marriage, no matter who is allowed, or not allowed, to participate.

Kathleen McGuire

Overlea

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