2 percent of Florida vote can spark fight | Sept. 20, Steve Bousquet column
Just enforce the law on voter IDs Florida's reputation for shoddy voting procedures is a national joke, yet there are groups trying to void a law to correct the problems. The law, effective Sept. 8, states that to register to vote, a person's driver's license number or last four digits of a Social Security number must match numbers in a government database. If there's no match, the would-be voter must rectify the problem by providing proof of a matching number. The voter can still vote on a provisional ballot and has two days after the election to clarify things.
There are groups that have tried to sue and shoot down this law. They state such frivolous excuses as: The poor and minorities would be most affected; typographical errors by clerks; illegible handwriting by a would-be voter; use of nontraditional spellings in first names, and paternal and maternal names used in last names.
How absurd is the statement by the Century Foundation's Tova Wang: "To go back and try to prove your identity — how many people are going to take that step?"
What? When I cash a check or pick up my own medical records, I have to prove who I am with a driver's license, Social Security numbers and even a palm print. Should the right to vote require no less?
These groups are trying to coerce Florida Secretary of State Kurt Browning to break the law by not enforcing it. He has said, "Complete the form legally and you'll have no problem." That is plain and simple.
Browning should not allow Florida to become the laughingstock of America again. Keep it legal and honest and enforce the law.
Virginia Lovisolo, Seminole
An insidious scheme
The "No match, no vote" disenfranchisement scheme reminds me of an anecdote from a historical disenfranchisement scheme: A black man goes to the polls and the poll worker gives him a paper with Latin text on it and asks him if he can read it. The black man says he can. The poll worker asks him what it says. He answers, "No Negroes are going to vote today."
The "No match, no vote" scheme is more sophisticated but just as insidious. Its instigators know that the 2 percent of voters who will be disenfranchised by it is likely to be enough to get their favored candidates elected.
Ed Bradley, Lithia
Racism could be election's deciding factor
People are wondering why the presidential election is expected to be close when one candidate seems to be vastly superior to the other. A new Associated Press poll examined the issue of race, using various techniques to provide anonymity and encourage honest responses.
Certainly there are racial biases for and against Barack Obama. When these pro and con biases are considered and examined and averaged together, the results demonstrate that Barack Obama's skin color will cost him approximately 6 percent of the vote.
Six percent? That is more than the expected margin in all but a few states, according to every forecast. In other words, if you eliminate the bigotry associated with the color of Obama's skin, states like Florida, Ohio, Virginia, Indiana, Missouri and many others would easily land in Obama's column. The electoral map would be a sea of blue.
If this year brings another razor-thin one-state election shocker, there will be no mystery as to why.
Scott Cochran, Tampa
Playing the race card
I resent hearing that I'm a racist if I don't vote for Barack Obama! I am not a racist and I don't like Obama, and I'm not ashamed of it! I don't like his history, his church or his wife, and it has nothing to do with race.
You are trying too hard when you play the race card. Most intelligent people can make up their own minds based on the issues, not on race. You say whites who don't vote for him are racist and yet you say 93 percent of blacks are voting for him. Why is that not being a racist toward John McCain? It goes both ways, you know!
I like Sarah Palin; she knows what it's like to be a working mother like most of the rest of the women of the world. The comments about how she won't be able to hold a responsible job because she has kids are hogwash! Men do it when they have kids and don't give it a thought. Why is a woman different?
I want my daughters and granddaughters to have the opportunity to grow up and be president too! Many other countries have had women leaders who have done a terrific job; why can't we? It's time for the little woman to come out of the kitchen and take her place in the world.
Mary Chandler, St. Petersburg
Your paper has published three stories recently about Sen. John McCain, Gov. Sarah Palin and Rep. Vern Buchanan. What do these people have in common? They are Republicans running for election in November. All three pieces were snarky in tone and loaded with opinion and bias.
This is what passes for journalism these days, I guess. There was little of value in any of the stories as they were written.
Opinions are universal and everybody has them, even newspaper editors and publishers. Your opinions belong on the editorial page (that's what that section is for) and not on the front page.
To balance things and negate your obvious bias, are you planning on writing similarly snarky stories about Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden, Rep. Kathy Castor or Christine Jennings? I'm holding my breath.
Mary La Plant, Palm Harbor
Running mate scares off some voters Sept. 20, story
Focus on the negative
For years I have been listening to my husband complain how biased your newspaper was. I have always disagreed until now.
This article pointed out all the negative reasons that your undecided voters were concerned with the vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin. However, instead of interviewing the two voters who were absolutely delighted with John McCain's choice, you simply chose to omit anything positive.
Of course, if there is positive news to be reported on this topic, rest assured it will always be preceded by negative, making sure to bury the positive in the back of the paper.
For the record I am a Democrat, but would love to be able to read the facts and make up my own mind. The only positive thing about this issue is, my husband and I finally agree on something!
Lynn B. McNaughton, Largo
Running mate scares off some voters Sept. 20, story
Palin is frightening
Thank you for the piece by Adam Smith with the interviews with people opposed to John McCain's running mate, Sarah Palin. Their concerns certainly mirror mine. I would add that Palin's attack-dog attitude is especially frightening when there is the possibility that she could be president. Both she and McCain seem to delight in telling half-truths if not outright lies, changing their positions, and trying to stir up animosity and divide the country.
Their slogan "Country First" rings hollow. These are two very ambitious people who want to win for their own sakes, no matter what the costs to the nation and its diverse citizens.
Kathlyn Gay, New Port Richey
Family of burned girl sues landlord Sept. 19, story
Someone throws a cigarette onto a pile of clothes. Another hears the smoke alarm but ignores its warning. Makeila Pressley nearly dies in the resulting fire and it's the landlord's fault? Perhaps if he were sleeping under their roof this never would have happened.
Glenda Pittman, St. Petersburg
Don't encourage the louts
Any sporting event will have exuberant fans. But when the line is crossed to obnoxious and offensive, how much are other patrons expected to take?
When the Times gives coverage of four color photos to the recent incident at the Rays' game, it only fuels the egotistical offender. Look at his quote: "Pretty cool."
Don't encourage this by excessive publicity. It appears from the photos that he had an imposing presence simply from his size and build. When you spend a lot of money to attend a family activity, you shouldn't have to put up with what was reported.
Robyn Dalton, Largo