The `None of the Above' Option

The Opinion page article "Vote `No and `Yes' to Democracy," June 12, on voter dissatisfaction and the possibility of adding "None of the Above" (NOTA) to United States election ballots, mentions that variants of this choice have been used in Eastern Europe. It is also used in Nevada, where it is nonbinding, and regularly in nongovernment elections, where it often is binding.

The Libertarian Party includes NOTA on ballots for party elections and its platform has long called for NOTA's inclusion on US federal, state, and local election ballots. In the party context, in any election in which NOTA wins, that office goes unfilled and unfunded until the next scheduled election.

Beyond serving as a vent for "throw-all-the-bums-out" steam, NOTA also provides a mechanism for voters to indicate their belief that an office itself - not just the politician who holds it or wants it - is unnecessary and should be eliminated.

Unfortunately, incumbent legislators know the dangers NOTA poses for their comfortable existence. It will take a strong grass-roots effort to get career politicians to approve laws that allow voters authentic choices in every election. Richard Sincere Jr., Arlington, Va., Chairman, Libertarian Party of Virginia Contracts in La Mirada

The author of the article "Bush `Privatization' Approach Gathers Steam at Local Level," May 4, is right about one thing in his references to La Mirada, Calif.: It is a "contract city," and there probably are about 75 of them. But these contract cities sign agreements for services with the counties in which they are located, most of them here in Los Angeles County. That is hardly privatization!

It is on this basis that La Mirada acquires its police protection, its fire protection, and the operation of the regional library located in the civic center. The county supplies them, and we pay for them through our tax assessments, as is the case for all of the contract cities.

It is true that trash pickup is handled by a private firm, but that is hardly a remarkable situation among cities today. Also, Suburban Water Systems provides the water supply to residents and businesses here, but they were doing that long before La Mirada was a city.

Which brings me to the author's final statement in that paragraph: "Officials say La Mirada runs more efficiently than before." Before what? La Mirada started out as a contract city, so we have never had experience providing the municipal services on any other basis. J. Paton Marshall, La Mirada, Calif. Intervention vs. isolationism

The author of the Opinion page article "A Sustainable US Foreign Policy," June 1, analyzes polls that indicate public support for the war against Iraq and interprets this as a preference for "engagement" over "isolationism." This conclusion suggests that the only available options are military intervention or isolationism. Isn't it possible for a country to be engaged in the world affairs without resorting to the use of force?

The implication that those who opposed the Persian Gulf war were isolationists is inaccurate. The people I know who counseled against the war are all ardent internationalists whose concern for the well-being of the citizens of other countries led them to oppose the use of deadly force. Robert McMahon, Lansdowne, Pa

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