- The Washington Times - Friday, November 24, 2000

More reader response to the election:

I would like to thank Wesley Pruden for speaking for so many of us in his Nov. 21 column, "The useful loathing of America's sons." He has articulated the thoughts many of us have shared and labored to express to the world.
The past eight years have brought shame, disgust and disillusionment to many Americans. I know because in my work I take calls from citizens every day angry and frustrated citizens. There is little that can compare with the present situation, however, particularly in Florida. The endless recounting (and subsequent mishandling) of voting cards is a disgrace unto itself. But when the canvassing boards determined not to honor military absentee votes, the public outcry was loud and long. This decision has been a slap in the face not only to the military, but to those of us who have great respect for our men and women in the service. Whether one is a military retiree, a veteran, a spouse of either or parents of those who currently serve, it was the ultimate insult.
I commend you for so eloquently addressing this disgraceful situation and for so accurately connecting it to President Clinton's deplorable trip to Vietnam another attempt to divert attention from the election-fixing going on in Florida. The trip itself, and especially the sight of the president participating in the recovery of the remains of a brave American soldier was, as you so correctly stated, "the final insult to his country."
Words are inadequate to describe the anger Americans feel toward this administration more Americans than many people may realize. However this election finally is settled, the victor will not have an easy time and most probably will serve a one-term presidency. Let's pray that as part of the final decision, the votes of our military who are serving overseas to protect all Americans will count. Considering that these men and women were sent to distant posts by their commander in chief, I think that is the very least this country can do for them.
DIANNE ROBBINS
Port St. Lucie, Fla.

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The Gore campaign has proven itself willing to torture the democratic process and the American people to get its candidate elected. On Election Day, 27 counties in Florida used punch-card ballots (Texas Gov. George W. Bush prevailed in 20; Vice President Al Gore in seven), but the ballots in these counties have been counted under varying rules. Dimpled chads and pregnant chads were excluded from the vote tally in most counties, but will be accepted as a legitimate vote in some Democratic-dominated counties. Florida's discriminatory and inconsistent treatment of voting ballots has tainted this presidential election beyond remedy.
The organized effort to disqualify hundreds of votes sent in by our military personnel due to minor technical errors beyond their control is the most despicable campaign tactic to date. Some of the same officials who decried a 6 percent ballot rejection rate turned around and rejected 70 percent to 80 percent of the absentee ballots they received many from overseas military personnel.
A voter's failure to follow an arrow from the candidate's name to the designated voting circle gets greater consideration from Florida election officials than the men and women of Florida who are serving in foreign countries, on battleships, submarines, etc., under adverse conditions and with limited mail service.
Now, the Florida Supreme Court has discarded the state election laws to uphold what is being done by renegade canvassing boards and their partisan activities. The rule of law has been violated under the guise of serving the "will of the people."
Does our vice president and the Democratic Party really believe that the majority of Americans voted for the dismantling of our democratic process?
ALAN SCHER
Montgomery County, Pa.

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Picture this: President Clinton, a draft dodger and protester against the Vietnam War, in his desperate search for a legacy, stands biting his lip and squeezing a tear from his eye for the camera at the crash site of an American fighter pilot killed in what was once North Vietnam. Simultaneously, half a world away, Mr. Clinton's vice president, desperately trying to follow in his boss's sordid footsteps, dishonors America's soldiers as his political henchmen succeed in getting 42 percent of Florida's absentee ballots thrown out for technical errors.
Mr. Clinton years ago wrote that he loathed the military. Vice President Al Gore has proved that he does, too. Regardless of what the public outcry leads them to say (which is not the same as what they will do), the measure of these men could not be clearer. They are impervious to shame.
As a God-fearing patriot who cares immensely about our freedom and the future of our children and grandchildren, I am saddened and alarmed at this brazen treatment of the last selfless patriots in America. Some of us can forgive our fellow citizens for snubbing vets returning from an unpopular war. Some can even forgive a draft-dodging commander in chief. All of us have the warrior's discipline necessary to remain publicly apolitical while on active duty. None of us, however, deserves to have the most important right of free men taken away from us by egocentric politicians.
I flew 268 combat missions in an F-100 in Vietnam. I have been in the cross hairs of Ho Chi Minh's big anti-aircraft guns. I have watched my friends die violently; eight of them are listed on a black granite wall in Washington. I saw firsthand the human price of a noble war horribly executed by selfish politicians whose primary concern was the next election. I am intimately acquainted with fear, and I am feeling an anxiety I have not felt in three decades.
Did my friends die for a banana republic? Revolution no longer looks impossible.
Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher warned that "there is little hope for democracy if the hearts of men and women cannot be touched by a call to something greater than themselves." Selfishness and self-gratification dominate our current leadership. It is time for some very serious soul-searching in America; it is time for good men to do something; it is time to rid Washington of selfish scoundrels or God help us.
J.D. WETTERLING
Tampa, Fla.

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One of the more interesting aspects of the 2000 election has been the evolution of the interpretation of "chads." Like so much of the Democrats' party politics, their interpretation of the chads is progressive. Even a dimple they see as an intended vote (and, presumably, a vote intended for Vice President Al Gore).
However, there is another plausible interpretation that can be made of a dimpled chad. I think it is entirely possible that some voters simply changed their minds before completing their vote for the candidate whose chad is dimpled.
Presume I am an older Palm Beach resident and I'm torn because I am concerned about Mr. Bush's plans for Social Security. I also am concerned that young Mr. Gore has a problem telling the truth; I like what he says about Social Security, but I wonder if he really means what he says. Suppose I start to vote for Mr. Gore, dimpling the chad in the process, but ultimately decide to cast a vote of "no confidence" and vote for neither man.
Can we presume that every dimple was intended as a vote?
TOM PFISTER
Springfield

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The banana republic of Florida should be ashamed of itself for allowing the use of antiquated voting machinery, procedures and techniques that might have been appropriate in the 18th and 19th centuries, but certainly not in the 21st century.
In this century, we have arrived at a level of development in which we can travel to the moon, live in space, communicate all over the globe in seconds and perform other amazing technological feats.
Yet in Palm Beach, the canvassing board will be examining improperly marked paper ballots in order to ascertain voters' intent. By examining the rest of a voter's choices on each questionable ballot, these officials will be "divining" the intent of the voter. This is a mockery of the election system.
I have seen little mention in the media of the need to bring voting machinery and voting procedures up to date. I do not know how widespread the problem is in our nation, but it certainly is time to raise the issue and have it taken care of properly.
GEORGE DREOS
Upper Marlboro

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