Worries about bugs, hackers, when voters use computers

Regarding your Jan. 28 editorial "Cyber-Voting, Version 1.0": When using computers to vote, there is the potential for serious problems in both accuracy and security. It isn't enough to confirm with voters that their vote was registered as intended, but that their vote is accurately counted and not subject to being altered by hacking. Insecure Internet-based or computer touch-screen systems, capable of being manipulated, could be the beginning of the loss of our most precious right, the right to vote and have that vote counted accurately.
Nancy Kinghorn
Half Moon Bay, Calif.

When using a computerized touch-screen system to vote, voters should receive a two-part printout of the ballot to verify the selection. Once verified, a duplicate copy should be submitted for independent verification, using exit polls. The results of the exit polls should then be compared with the tally recorded by the computer system and be tested for discrepancies. It's terribly important that people vote, but equally important, is the way votes are counted.
Harold S. Kramer
Marblehead, Mass.

Although it's true that new technologies need to work out their kinks through trial and error, in a democracy the vote is - and should be - sacred. We must hold voting systems, electronic and otherwise, to a much higher standard than the usual IT project. Until we are free from glitches we should use the Internet only to make overseas absentee voting easier, but it should not be relied upon to log and transmit votes.
Pamela Smith
Carlsbad, Calif.

An independent Kurdistan

The Jan. 28 article "Kurds, divided, face new future" by Nicholas Birch does not do the Kurdish people justice. For decades the Kurds have fought for their human rights. There is a strong and deep love between Kurds across the borders, which are imposed upon them forcibly. By quoting three or four farmers, the article paints a grim picture of Kurdish people.

If the farmers were representative of the majority of Kurds in the north of Kurdistan, Turkey would not panic at the probability of Kurdish independence in the south of Kurdistan.

Most Kurds are united in their desire for an independent Kurdistan. Most Kurds refuse to acknowledge the borders dividing their country. Most would like to believe that those borders will very soon be removed.
Newroz Fisli

UN apprehensions over Iraq

Regarding John Hughes's Jan. 28 Opinion column "Why UN and US now need each other": I disagree that the United Nations is eager to return to Iraq. The country is slowly slipping into chronic civil war and there are indications that Iraq may eventually become divided into three parts. I do not think the UN wants to be involved in the breakup of Iraq and UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan, in my opinion, is dragging his feet before returning to Baghdad.
Mounif El-Youssef
Rochester, Minn.

Spanish lesson

Regarding the Jan. 26 article "Where 'English only' falls short": Spanish is no more a foreign language than English is in the United States. There were Spanish speakers in many parts of the present-day US long before the first English colonists arrived. Most of the Southwest was basically taken by force from Mexico. And don't forget Puerto Rico, which many people would like to see become the 51st state. For better or worse, the US is bilingual - and Spanish has a pedigree every bit as worthy as English.
Steve Osborne
Naples, Italy

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