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The Baltimore Sun

Right to vote trumps concerns over fraud

Cynthia Tucker hit the nail on the head in her column "Voter ID scam is the real fraud" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 14).

As we celebrate the birthday of the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr., it is ironic that so much of what he worked for remains unfulfilled. And he would be appalled, but not surprised, that voter ID laws - a solution to a voter fraud problem that is virtually nonexistent - have been one of the key parts of GOP efforts to lower turnout among poor and minority voters.

It should be remembered that a central part of the U.S. attorney scandal was the firing of U.S. attorneys - Republican appointees, no less - who refused to go along with efforts spearheaded by Karl Rove to bring voter fraud cases.

And it is sad that Justice Anthony M. Kennedy called the disenfranchisement of voters a "minor inconvenience."

I would propose that if the GOP is really worried about voter fraud, we should launch an effort to identify every eligible voter in the country and provide him or her with a voter ID free of charge.

After that, we could start requiring voters to show IDs.

Until then, the right to vote should trump concerns about the nonexistent bogeyman of voter fraud.

Tim Eastman


Protecting integrity adds value to votes

Cynthia Tucker is exercised by the Supreme Court's review of an Indiana law requiring verifiable voter identification at the polls in exchange for the right to vote ("Voter ID scam is the real fraud," Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 14).

She calls the law un-American, likens it to a right-wing conspiracy and suggests that it is targeted at people of color - when the law is actually race- and color-neutral, as it requires ID from all of those who want to vote.

Let's deal with the basic issue.

Voting is a privilege and a right of citizenship. Conferring on voters a responsibility to confirm their citizenship to exercise that right seems eminently reasonable.

And as to voter ID laws being an "inconvenience," let me have the temerity to suggest: So what?

Our modern society is well past the point where the citizenship of an individual can be so taken for granted that we allow the fraudulent exercise of one of the most sacred rights of a democratic society.

Voting is the touchstone of our society; we should value it more, not less. And we should establish that value by requiring any necessary proof to exercise our right to vote.

Many Americans do value their voting rights, and I, for one, resist any attempts to dilute my vote's value.

Barry Dennis


Reporting on donors could clarify races

Despite all the articles we see daily in The Sun about the presidential race, we never see one that lists all the money given by special interests to each and every contender.

Forget the analysis: The Sun should just publish the names of who gave how much to whom. And in 2010, do the same thing for the state races.

We voters can figure out the rest. We're not stupid.

Blaine Taylor


Rewarding CEOs for huge losses?

I was always taught that capitalism was based on the premise that financial gain comes from successful economic performance and financial loss from failed economic performance.

Yet the column "Faulty assumptions led to mortgage mess" (Opinion

Commentary, Jan. 16) noted that "Angelo R. Mozilo, CEO of Countrywide Financial, stands to receive as much as $115 million in severance pay if his failed company is acquired by Bank of America."

Could someone please explain what kind of capitalism this is?

Howard Bluth


Big money distorts research on drugs

The Sun's article on the biased publication of research regarding the safety and effectiveness of antidepressants is no surprise considering the vast amounts of money involved in the sale of these drugs ("Drugs' efficacy overstated," Jan. 17)

As the article notes, studies that show a drug to be safe and effective are much more likely to get published than studies showing a drug to be ineffective or unsafe.

Sadly, this problem is not confined to antidepressant drugs.

We cannot expect drug companies to protect our health and safety at a possible cost of billions in lost profits if a drug is shown to be unsafe or ineffective.

Neil Cohen


O'Malley's animosity puts schools at risk

Gov. Martin O'Malley needs to rethink his priorities and forget his feud with state schools Superintendent Nancy S. Grasmick.

No wonder his approval rate is so low; he's not focused on real issues. Instead, he's carrying a grudge over Ms. Grasmick's unsuccessful attempt to intervene in Baltimore's schools when he was mayor. The governor needs to move on and tackle what needs fixing.

As reported in Liz Bowie's article "Grasmick called a 'pawn' of GOP" (Jan. 10), Education Week magazine ranked Maryland's education system third-best in the nation.

Elected officials should applaud Ms. Grasmick's efforts and long-term commitment to Maryland's education system.

Instead, the governor threatens to legislate Ms. Grasmick's ouster.

A vindictive governor should not put Maryland's education system at risk.

Legislators need to say, "Don't fix what's not broken," and keep the status quo.

Joseph Patrick Oates


Drive to Delaware can save plenty

The writer of the letter "Gas cost makes drive to Delaware useless" (Jan. 13) is correct to a certain degree.

The calculation really depends on the price of what you are buying in comparison to the price of gas for a round trip.

But for big-ticket items such as TVs, computers and appliances, the trip to Delaware is well worth it.

Michael Manna


Lamenting the limits of business acumen

I wish I possessed entrepreneurial vision.

Armed with that gift, I would have certainly seen the need in the market for coffee made from cat feces ("Getting to the bottom of great coffee," Jan. 14).

Warren Cherry


And also a market for used kitty litter?

Imagine me coming down to a nice, healthy breakfast, opening The Sun and the first thing I see and read is an article about how some idiot is making coffee out of cat poop ("Getting to the bottom of great coffee," Jan. 14).

Needless to say, breakfast was ruined. I couldn't believe my eyes, but given how many people go for the bizarre, I shouldn't have been surprised.

Now if there's anyone out there interested in adding some used kitty litter to their spaghetti, call me.

I have a whole box full. And at reasonable prices, too.

Ann Henry

Ellicott City

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