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Carr’s Right: Make It Easier to Vote
Dear Bay Weekly:
As a St. Mary’s County election judge, I thought Steve Carr’s column in your February 21st issue [Vol. xvi, No. 8: Feb. 21] hit several nails on the head. Until I became an election judge (which I thoroughly enjoy and consider a community service), I had no idea how much time and money the state invests in holding elections. Until then I never would have thought it would be more efficient to mail all voters in the state a ballot and have that ballot mailed back to the county board of elections for tallying.
Those I have had the priviledge to work with take their jobs seriously, and I cannot say I’ve seen any waste in the present system. Judges are well trained and supported. The February primary election was conducted with electronic voting machines that provide no paper trail. It appears Maryland will be using a different method for the general election.
For the primary, votes were cast utilizing absentee paper ballots, electronic voting machines and provisional paper ballots. It would seem that a single, mailed, paper ballot would provide a more uniform and efficient means of voting.
It would be incumbent on each citizen to ensure their county election board have their current address and party preference. I was amazed at the number of individuals who had moved or changed preferences and not contacted their local election board.
I also agree that the change of primary date was ill considered. Sure enough, weather contributed to a depressed turnout. It seems the move was designed to somehow make the Maryland vote more important. I feel my vote is important as I vote for my candidate whatever the date. I don’t alter my vote to the current front-runner. Perhaps the Maryland legislature has a lower opinion of most of their constituents. They should realize we are not all sheep.
This is what the primary and general elections are all about: giving all people a chance to vote for the candidate they feel best supports their views. While it obviously costs much more to go through all these primaries, without them the states with smaller populations would never get to see and hear the candidates in person. It also provides opportunities for face-to-face debates, which give voters greater insight into each candidate’s position on issues of importance.
Glenn Weder, Hollywood, Md.
Taxpayers Lose on More Constellation Nukes
Dear Bay Weekly:
Recently Constellation Energy Group officials met with members of the Maryland General Assembly to generate support for government subsidies and favorable regulations in Constellation's bid to build a new 1,600-megawatt nuclear reactor at Calvert Cliffs. Some legislators see nuclear power as an environmentally friendly way to produce cheaper energy and create more jobs and tax revenue.
However, the cozy friendship of the Calvert County commissioners with Constellation may be creating problems. The two continue to trade favors while reactor proposals develop. Calvert County offers $300 million in tax breaks; Constellation agrees to pay the county $6 million a year due to taxes lost in electricity deregulation that state lawmakers approved in 1999.
You do the math; taxpayers lose.
All the while, both tout more nuclear power as a safe, clean, inexpensive way to reduce global warming pollution. But is it?
Tons of radioactive waste are already stored at Calvert Cliffs since federal efforts to build a repository in Nevada are stalled. Mining and processing uranium destroys and contaminates land and ground water.
Financially, only massive federal, state, and local subsidies keep the nuclear industry on life support. Construction of Constellation's proposed Calvert Cliffs' reactor design in Finland has fallen 1.5 years behind schedule with current cost overruns of $922 million. And Constellation may stick its customers with the projected $5 billion cost to dismantle Calvert’s old reactors in 2036.
We have alternatives to nuclear power expansion: Energy efficiency measures in Maryland could reduce energy use by 20 percent by 2020, offsetting the need for new coal and nuclear power plants. Renewable energy technologies, such as wind, solar and ocean power, can address demand without the negative impacts on the environment, public health and safety.
Contact your local elected officials and call or write Governor Martin O' Malley at 800-811-8336 or firstname.lastname@example.org to express your opposition to new nuclear reactors and your support for energy conservation.
Frank L. Fox, Mechanicsville: Chair, Sierra Club Southern Maryland Group
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