1. Letters to the Editor

How to safeguard elections in Florida | Sunday's letters

Published Aug. 2, 2019

When it comes to critical steps leading to advanced election and voter efficiency, Florida gets a C minus. Florida falls behind progress made in 27 other states. How can this be? We have enough history and incentives to forge to the head of the line.

Gov. Ron DeSantis' administration, and Rick Scott's administration before it, have actively blocked Florida from joining the interstate compact known as ERIC, or Election Registration Information Center. Founded in 2012, it is a data-base verification and list maintenance system designed to cross-reference voter files among individual states for duplication, possible errors and out-of-date records. It flags voters who may have registered in multiple states, moved out of state or passed away. It improves state voter registration results by providing states with ways to contact potentially eligible but unregistered voters. For those people always complaining about voter fraud, this is the solution.

The Florida Association of Supervisors of Elections, representing all 67 counties, endorsed membership in ERIC years ago. It remains their No. 1 priority for the next election cycle. The League of Women Voters of Florida supports ERIC membership as a baseline best management practice.

So what's the problem? It's not the cost. Florida's membership in ERIC is well under $500,000. It's not an experimental technology. ERIC can eliminate more problems at the polls. Our goal is a seamless voting experience — one that becomes a habit for young and old alike. We must give our supervisors of elections the tools they need to prepare for Election Day.

Michele Levy, Winter Park

The writer is advocacy chair for elections of the League of Women Voters of Florida.

Mueller strikes out in final at bat | Column, July 28

Swinging and missing

I would like to follow up on Adam Goodman's baseball analogy. This column was a "foul" ball. It is wrong to demean Robert Mueller, a great public servant with an impeccable reputation who is widely respected by the vast majority of all Americans — Democrats and Republicans. Strike one!

His statement that the Mueller Report was clear there was no "collusion" and no determination of whether President Donald Trump committed a crime is both inaccurate and misleading. The report clearly states "collusion" was not addressed because it is not a legal term; rather, "conspiracy" was addressed. Robert Mueller, and the report, were quite clear that the only reason there was no determination of criminality was the Office of Legal Counsel policy that precludes doing so for a sitting president. Strike two!

According to Goodman, "heroism" is six amazing baseball players inducted into the Hall of Fame. No, it is a young American who left behind his Ivy League education and job potential to serve as a decorated Marine Corps officer in a nasty war, receiving a Purple Heart, then heading the FBI as a dedicated public servant. Strike three! You're out!

Rod Dalton, St. Petersburg

Election security divides Congress after Robert Mueller's testimony | July 26

The responsibility is ours

Last week I received my copy of the Mueller Report. There is a great deal of detailed evidence of how the Russians interfered with the 2016 election through manipulation of social media and individuals on social media. There is evidence that they are continuing their efforts to influence the 2020 election and will be ramping up their attacks. And yet, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell refuses to even consider taking proposed election security bills forward for a vote. We need to be vigilant in fact-checking and sourcing posts on social media every day. We clearly cannot depend upon our Senate or our executive branch to protect our elections as we move forward.

Bettie Weiler, Dunedin

Robespierre's pronouns? | Column, July 28

His, her, thy, their

As a long-time admirer of speech writer Peggy Noonan, I must express my profound disappointment in her last column. A writer must be responsible for their metaphors and other comparisons. (Please notice in that last sentence that I have used a grammatical strategy called the "singular their" so that I could avoid the ugly "his or her.") Noonan hates that usage. Fine. Let nerds be nerds.

Sadly, she compares that usage to the "Terror" of the French Revolution — that is, to 10 years of some of worst slaughter ever perpetrated by a people against each other. Such a comparison makes a Trump tweet look like an Evite to a Sunday school picnic. And what has happened in American culture that has Noonan so enflamed? Advocates of transgender people want to tinker with our pronouns. Oh, the humanity!

I am no fan of creating new pronouns to replace old ones. Our language has a way of taking care of itself, and we'll wind up with the pronouns we need and deserve. (We don't "thee" and "thy" very much anymore, do we, Peg?)

Responsible language use requires, on serious occasions, proportionality. Words like holocaust, genocide, slavery, and concentration camp are too often used promiscuously to hype a perceived injustice. One final point: In attacking supporters of social justice for gay and transgender people, Noonan is accusing groups of cultural terrorism, groups who throughout history have been among the most vulnerable to prejudice, intolerance and violence themselves.

Roy Peter Clark, St. Petersburg

The author has taught writing at the Poynter Institute, which owns the Tampa Bay Times, since 1979.

Burned, beaten and shot: Remembering Red Summer | July 28

History we should learn

This news report was sickening for the cruelty it described and discouraging because I had never read about it in high school, college or law school. Is this depiction of mob violence and murder by whites against African Americans in many cities around 1919 — this part of America's dark history — now being taught? We have made some real progress, but if we don't know our history juxtaposed to our proclaimed values we will not understand the hard path ahead.

James Gillespie, St. Petersburg


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