The Baltimore Sun

Still optimistic on voting reform

Maryland has been through a years-long process to try to replace the costly paperless, touch-screen voting machines that were first implemented in some counties in 2002 ("Paper voting unlikely," March 4).

The governor put funding to purchase an accessible optical-scan system in the State Board of Elections' current budget. This purchase will ultimately be a cost-saving measure. The state currently supports more than 20,000 touch-screen voting units but would need only about 2,000 optical scanners and 2,000 ballot-marking devices under a new optical-scan system.

We would be on course to implement the new system except that the Federal Election Assistance Commission has failed to certify that recent optical-scan machines meet new guidelines.

However, Maryland is fortunate to have the option to purchase scanners that have been certified to meet previous guidelines and well-tested in other states. But we do not now have a certified option for an available ballot-marking device for voters with disabilities.

Del. Jon S. Cardin has offered an important compromise to address this problem that would provide one touch-screen unit in each polling place, which would be accessible to voters with disabilities and to other voters, until certified ballot-marking devices for the disabled are available.

Advocates for voters with disabilities have expressed a willingness to work with Mr. Cardin on an interim solution.

I remain optimistic that Maryland voters will see the transition to optical-scan voting begin in 2010.

Mary Howe Kiraly, Bethesda

The writer is a former administrator for the Maryland Election Integrity Coalition.

Market can't handle Obama's change

I hope the policymakers and budget writers in President Barack Obama's office are taking note of the stock market's deterioration and adjusting their revenue projections accordingly ("Pause in market fall," March 5).

Based on recent market activity, they should expect very little dividend or capital gains tax revenue for many years to come. This kind of revenue comes largely from the same people the administration is attempting to tax more heavily, and from the broader population that holds 401(k) and other retirement accounts.

The market is speaking, and it does not like what the Obama administration is saying.

The changes the administration has offered are too radical and too fast in an already uncertain situation.

Marty Etzel, Towson

If Social Security were now in stocks?

As the stock market tumbles to undreamed-of lows ("Pause in market fall," March 5), I can't help thinking back four years to when the Bush administration wanted us to gamble in the market with our Social Security funds.

Paul Romney, Baltimore

GOP teaches Steele who's the boss

Alas, poor Michael S. Steele, he naively thought he had been chosen to lead the Republican Party, only to discover that he's just a figurehead for the Dittohead Party ("Steele is urged to resign as GOP chairman," March 6). I guess he knows now who's really running the show.

But before the Republican wing nuts celebrate, consider this: Rush Limbaugh's 20 million listeners represent less than 7 percent of the American people, and focusing on that group is not so much a solid base upon which to restore the Grand Old Party as recipe for political suicide.

President Barack Obama has graciously offered the Republicans a seat at the table. Unfortunately, it appears they feel more comfortable being dogmatic, self-righteous obstructionists.

What a foolish choice.

Dick Boulton, Ellicott City

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