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February 28, 2006


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I heard your story about improving our voting system to assure that everyone has the right to vote and to have their vote counted.

I was glad to hear that you think the Secretary of State was doing a good job and making some improvements, but frankly there is no reason and no excuse for why our voting procedures and equipment is less accurate and sophisticated than most vending machines and gas station pumps.

For example, when I go to the gas station, I insert a card that tells gives the seller my identity and then the seller measures out some quantity of product, and generates a receipt. The seller knows what he sold and for how much and the buyer drives off knowing how much they bought and the price they paid. They both have evidence that the transaction was complete and that the material and dollars that exchanged hands were counted (to at least 2 decimal points).

With the availability of technology today, there is no reason that a voter cannot get verification that their ballot was submitted and their votes counted before they leave the polling place.

There should also be a system of redundant checks and balances that will assure that the counted votes do not change and that if there is an error, there is adequate back-up information to correct the error.

So, it is good to know that the process is improving, but it is no where near where it needs to be. Personally, I do not understand why it is taking so very long to raise the process and procedures to a level that will give voters confidence that their votes will count. It has been 5 years since the debacle in Florida. Why is it taking so long?

Also, you mentioned your support for picture id. I think you are forgetting that there are many people who do not have any form of photo id. There is a bright line between certain levels of socio-economic status and people on one side of the line seem to have difficulty understanding the plight of those on the other side of the track.

For example, it may seem simple and commonplace for you to present a Driver's Licencse as a means of identifying yourself. But not everyone has a Drivers License.

People who cannot afford a car and perhaps do not even learn to drive would have no reason to get a drivers license. If they live in a small enough community where everyone knows everyone else, they wouldn't need to show picture id.

My grandmother lived well into her 90's and she never drove a car and did not have a Drivers License. She never left the U.S. and did not have a passport. She lived most of her life in a close knit community in Detroit's east side where her Dr., pharmacist, grocery cashier, and bank teller were either neighbors or knew her or a family member.

I don't think my grandmother ever missed voting in an election. She, like most of us, had a voter registration card showing she had registered and where she should vote, but there is no photo on that card.

Why should my grandmother have been denied the right to vote because she did not have a photo id?

Of course we also know that sometimes imposing requirements on people who want to vote is also a technique for intimidating people and keeping them from voting.

Photo ids would not solve anything. The problems in Florida in 2000 and Ohio in 2004 were not the result of voters not having photo id. So mandating photo ids will not solve the problem.

I think it is merely a Karl Rove like bait-and-switch technique to distract us from the real problem -- Honest and ethical government officials who are committed to upholding and enforcing the law.

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