Wanted: A 2004 Election Beyond Reproach
Republicans tell us theyre wary of Sen. John Kerrys views toward war. Democrats tell us they're wary of President George W. Bushs views toward just about everything.
Yet both sides agree on one political truth: Elections must be sparklingly clean and smooth-flowing.
Yet were a tad nervous about what might happen Nov. 2 given disquieting news about election preparations in Maryland.
First, were suspicious of the maneuvering by Gov. Robert Ehrlich that suspended Maryland Elections Administrator Linda H. Lamone from her job last week. She has since returned to work under a court order, but the push to oust her continues.
We understand and respect how the party in power gets to run the show. Chicagos first Mayor Daley used to say, Reward your friends, punish your enemies. (Daley cronies also are said to have uttered the phrases Don't make no waves, don't back no losers and, our favorite, We don't want nobody nobody sent).
The most hard-bitten Chicago ward-heeler would have chuckled at the method of Marylands Board of Elections where two Ehrlich-appointed GOP members joined by a protégé of William Donald Schaefer, Maryland's comptroller, voted to remove Lamone. They replaced her temporarily with a registered Democrat described by Democratic leaders as little more than window-dressing.
What the board did was more out of Kafka than Boss Daley. Lamone was accused vaguely of incompetence, misconduct or other good cause. But never were her alleged transgressions spelled out. What sin might she have committed to get fired? We weren't told.
We also admit to being slightly queasy about Marylands new all electronic voting systems with no paper trail.
Perhaps weve been reading too deeply into courtroom accounts in which experts describe how Maryland refused to make changes for safetys sake when experts said that the machines were liable to tampering.
Maybe we just like to have something to hold in our hands that can be counted with a No. 2 Ticonderoga rather than trusting democracy to flickering dots on a computer screen.
We agree with the folks fighting in court to require a paper trail when Marylanders vote. If not this election, by the gubernatorial election of 2006 courts ought to require an upgrade that would provide a paper backup in this electronic age.
Good citizens of all political affiliations are still troubled by our 2000 election debacle in which millions were disenfranchised and the outcome of the presidential election, still disputed, had to be settled in court.
With so much out of our control these days, we should do all in our power to give people confidence both in our election machinery and in the people who keep it oiled.