- The Washington Times - Monday, December 11, 2000

Election inspires strong opinions

The U.S. Supreme Court, in its decision to stop manual recounts in Florida, has severely reprimanded the Florida Supreme Court for overstepping its authority and changing the rules of the election after it had taken place. This is a clear rejection of the liberal activist agenda of the Florida court. The U.S. Supreme Court, in its coming ruling, must restore some dignity to our institutions and the election process.

STEVE ETZKORN

Columbus, Ohio

A gentleman of the old school, James A. Baker III refused to criticize the Florida Supreme Court after its Dec. 8 decision ordering a manual recount except to take issue with its interpretation of the law. The reckless action of four of that court's justices does not deserve such respect.

Make no mistake, this was a partisan political decision wrapped up in legal language. It was not based on the law or a principled interpretation of the law; it was a clever but unsubtle distortion of existing law and the crafting of new law to make probable a desired political result. It was the action of ideologues and the judicial equivalent of jury nullification.

If this outrageous assault on the Constitution and the rule of law is allowed to stand, it will divide this country as nothing has since the Civil War. If Vice President Al Gore loves his country more than his own ambition, now is the time for him to prove it by repudiating this sickening exercise of judicial legislating. Sadly, nothing in his past words or actions gives rise to the slightest hope of this occurring.

If the courts appoint Mr. Gore president, we will take a giant step into the decline of constitutional government.

ROBERT A. WOLPERT

Fairfax

In her Dec. 7 letter to the editor, "Universal suffrage and voter responsibility," Marcia Spiegel looks at the county-by-county electoral map and sees that Texas Gov. George W. Bush is the champion of Middle America of those who believe in self-reliance and responsibility. I look at the same map and see something else. The counties that voted for Vice President Al Gore are counties with major universities, museums, symphony orchestras and libraries. Those that voted for Mr. Bush have Wal-Marts and Blockbusters as their major cultural and intellectual attractions.

EDWARD BELFAR

Baltimore

The problem with the hand recounts ordered by the Florida Supreme Court is that the criteria for determining what is a valid vote are faulty.

To determine the intent of a voter on a so-called "undervote" ballot, one cannot rely upon a perceived voting pattern on the ballot. Many voters split their ballots; many voters choose to abstain from voting in a specific race.

Also, incorrectly punched ballots likely are the result of voter error. Even if it could be determined that an error occurred, how could one determine whom the voter intended to select, if anyone?

In fact, it is impossible to determine the intent of a voter with certainty unless the ballot was punched correctly. An indentation on a ballot on which votes are meant to be indicated by holes could just as reasonably be interpreted as a change of the voter's mind.

The Florida manual counts that already have taken place have been suspect. In this new recount, if dimpled chads or internal consistency are used to interpret voter intent, the election will be further tainted and made illegitimate.

DIANE E. LOWELL

Westbrook, Maine

Three cheers for the Postal Service

In the Dec. 6 article "Price of first-class stamp will rise to 34 cents Jan. 7," the curve looks alarmingly steep, as do all exponential curves. However, a little simple mathematics puts it into perspective.

The rise from 2 cents to 36 cents in 115 years would occur if a yearly rate of increase of only 2.55 percent were in effect over the whole period a minuscule amount. Because the curve is so flat in the early years (1885-1958), a more realistic working number is the average rate of increase from 4 cents in 1958 to 36 cents in 2001, a period of 43 years. The average yearly rate to generate this result is 5.3 percent, far less than the rate of increase of the average cost of living during this period.

Three cheers for the Postal Service

BERNARD FREE

Derwood

Library of Congress police confined to library

In the Dec. 5 article "Library police could incur liability for aiding passers-by," the memo from Capt. Rosiland Parker that is quoted does not reflect the issuance of new rules to the Library of Congress' police force. In fact, the memo was written in response to a question by a library police officer and simply restates existing provisions of the federal law that limits the jurisdiction of library police to library buildings and grounds.

The memo was written to clarify the liability of officers should they be acting in an unofficial capacity off library premises. The primary responsibility of the library police force is the protection of the buildings and grounds of the Library of Congress and the persons and property therein.

KENNETH E. LOPEZ

Director of Security

Library of Congress

Washington

Defending Turkish intervention in Cyprus

Dr. Nicholas Gianoukakis' high-voltage polemic against Turkey ("Aid to Turkey should come with conditions," Letters to the Editor, Nov. 29) is worrisome. The legitimacy and legality of Turkey's 1974 intervention in Cyprus (which was in accordance with the international Treaty of Guarantee) to save Turkish Cypriots from a massacre planned by Greece and Greek Cypriots were never challenged by any international organization, including the United Nations.

Dr. Gianoukakis tends to forget that the Greek Cypriot administration spends more per capita on its military than any other state in the world, and it is racing to purchase highly sophisticated weapons destabilizing to both the island and the Middle East. Is that an earmark of amity or reconciliation toward Turkish Cypriots?

Turkey's transparent elections have uniformly been declared free, fair and democratic by countless impartial international observers. Turkish citizens of Kurdish ancestry may speak Kurdish (although a commanding majority covet Turkish fluency), and a spirited and healthy debate is under way throughout the nation regarding the legalization of Kurdish broadcasting. Moreover, Turkey is pursuing reform with steadfastness in such areas as prisons, freedom of speech and political association, police corruption and abuses, and human rights training.

In the words of the European Council, "Turkey is a candidate state destined to join the Union on the same criteria as applied to other candidate states." The implications of this candidacy are profound for the geopolitics of the Middle East and Europe and, as an important NATO power, for the United States.

AHMET ERDENGIZ

Representative

Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus

Washington

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