Letters to the Editor

Readers write about treatment of war prisoners, improving voting systems, and Ron Paul's chances in this year's election.

Prisoner abuse sullies US democracy mission

In response to the May 22 article, "Guantánamo ex-detainee tells of abuse": By treating those who are not United States citizens as inferior to US citizens, we deny the rest of the world the rights we have under our Constitution. Hasn't the battle cry of America always been to spread democracy and freedom worldwide? We would appear to be at cross-purposes in our foreign policy if Operation Iraqi Freedom is only a way to set up an international caste system with the US on the top.

Andy McKelvey
Portland, Ore.

Ballot systems can improve

In response to Bryan Pfaffenberger's May 30 Opinion piece, "Return to paper ballots? Not so fast": As one who governed the election office in Charlotte, N.C., with several hundreds of thousands of voters for twelve years, I can tell you that voters are just as capable of messing up a vote on a machine as they are on a paper ballot.

And I have judged thousands of paper ballots and found the "intent" of the voter almost always clear.

The problem is the length of the ballot.

There is no way to design a ballot that voters will be able to intelligently navigate if it lists 20 or 30 or even 40 different offices. With the short ballot, machines are not needed.

Theodore S. Arrington
Charlotte, N.C.

Professor of political science, University of North Carolina

Regarding the recent Opinion piece on voting machines: Oregon has been using mail-in ballots for more than 10 years. This system makes it possible to vote in our own home at our leisure. We are not harassed by would-be vote changers at the polls. We are not pressured to hurry up by long lines of people waiting for a voting booth.

If we did not have this system in place, I would vote by absentee ballot, which accomplishes the same thing.

Kristin Ayer
Depoe Bay, Ore.

In response to Bryan Pfaffenberger's recent Opinion piece on voting systems: Mr. Pfaffenberger makes a sound case against hand counting, but gives paper ballots a bad name in the process.

The issue is not that the ballots are paper, but rather how they are counted.

Ohio and other states have optical readers in each precinct to detect voting mistakes. Voters are given the opportunity to correct any that would invalidate the ballots before they leave the polling place. Paper ballots are not ever a problem when the counting methods are state of the art.

David K. McClurkin

Beachwood, Ohio

Paul backers' other choices

Regarding the May 29 article, "Barr is new piece in electoral puzzle": The article overly simplifies Ron Paul supporters and their decisionmaking process for who to vote for in November.

I know personally about how Ron Paul-backers feel because I am one myself and have friends that support Dr. Paul. And I know that, yes, we are looking at Bob Barr, and yes, we like Barack Obama's antiwar stance and his talk of a fundamental change in philosophy for the way politics is done, but we definitely do not like Mr. Barr's anti-gay marriage stance, and we do not want the big government Mr. Obama wants to further.

Overall, I am confident in saying that Paul supporters will support Paul all the way and write him in on the ballot.

I guess we'll all see what happens come November.

Jon Delperdang

The Monitor welcomes your letters and opinion articles. Because of the volume of mail we receive, we can neither acknowledge nor return unpublished submissions. All submissions are subject to editing. Letters must be signed and include your mailing address and telephone number. Any letter accepted may appear in print or on our website, Mail letters to Readers Write and Opinion pieces to Opinion Page, 210 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston, MA 02115. E-mail letters to Letters and Opinion pieces to OpEd.

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