- The Washington Times - Wednesday, September 5, 2001

Simplify overseas voting

As the official who directed the Republican effort to get out the overseas vote in the 2000 election, I applaud John C. Fortier's Sept. 2 Commentary article "Getting military ballots counted." We cannot ask our men and women in the armed services to defend our country and risk their lives, and then turn around and tell them that their votes cannot be counted on the basis of some technicality. The 2000 election emphasized the importance of the overseas vote in a close election. It is about time that Congress focuses on the problems that overseas Americans face in voting absentee and begin the process of reform.

Mr. Fortier seeks to resolve the problems of overseas voting by establishing polling sites where overseas Americans could have a private voting booth to cast their ballots. While the idea of letting military bases serve as polling places might be feasible for members of the armed services, Mr. Fortier's plan to permit civilians to vote in "polling places," presumably U.S. embassies and consulates, is far off indeed under the current structure. Many of the estimated 6 million Americans who live overseas do not live near an embassy or consulate.

The military, under the direction of the Department of Defense's Federal Voter Assistance Program, did not provide the kind of information outreach needed in the 2000 election. Nearly half of the armed service personnel who contacted our office were unaware of the fact a voting office existed for their use on their military base, and armed forces personnel serving away from their bases did not know how to obtain an absentee ballot form.

This is why legislation simplifying the overseas voting process that would extend to military and civilians alike needs to be passed by Congress this year. Rep. Mac Thornberry's bipartisan bill (HR 1377), which he introduced in April, is a step in the right direction to make sure that our military do not lose their right to have their votes counted as a result of their service away from home. While, on the one hand, Republicans Abroad is fighting hard to ensure that our men and women in the armed forces are franchised to participate in the democratic process, we also honor and value our commitment to overseas civilians who play an important role in promoting the U.S. economy, selling goods and services and creating jobs for Americans back home.

Other provisions can be added to this bill as it moves through the legislative process that would include overseas civilians and broaden the scope of the bill. The bill could comprise, for example, a limited form of electronic voting and a simplification of the registration and mailing process that would also protect the process from voter fraud. Republicans Abroad is currently working with members of Congress in an effort to craft this kind of legislation, which will do justice to 6 million overseas Americans.


JOAN LUKE HILLS

Chairman, Voter Registration

Republicans Abroad

Washington

Privatizing Social Security is a great idea that will never happen

I would like to applaud Peter Ferrara's Aug. 29 Op-Ed column, "Social Security scaremongering," as a breath of fresh air in an extremely stagnant political arena. I am 25 years old, and I have little hope of ever seeing a dollar of Social Security benefits if the system continues in its present state. I also believe that privatization, in one form or another, is the key to solving the problems brought about by the Social Security regime.

Social Security, like Medicare and the income tax system, is just one more way in which our government (whether controlled by Democrats or Republicans) breeds dependency among the citizenry, convincing people that they are not competent to make their own decisions concerning their hard-earned wages. Privatization could be an important first step on the road to reclaiming some of those important personal fiscal rights that have eroded in the 60-plus years since the inception of the New Deal.

Privatization may be perfectly logical, but nobody should be fooled into believing it will ever come to pass in today's government, which is more often than not characterized by partisan gridlock and confusing political rhetoric.

The problem with implementation stems not just from the Democrats, but from all those Republicans who, when push comes to shove, will not vote for dramatic change. They will not support dramatic change because they will not want to jeopardize their support among senior citizens, who vote en masse.

Furthermore, politicians do not want to lose the support of the people who depend, or one day will depend, upon the federal government for handouts.

The bottom line is that while privatization makes sense, the size and structure of our federal government and the two-party system will prevent it from ever becoming a reality.


JOSEPH B. MCGILL

Fairfax

Several errors enslave Civil War article

The article on the Civil War page about Moses Jacob Ezekiel and the monument he sculpted, "The Righteous Cause," is obviously a labor of love and a sentimental journey for writer Alister C. Anderson ("New Market veteran sculpts tribute to Confederate cause," Aug. 25). Perception, however, is everything when it comes to the Civil War, or the War Between the States, as Mr. Anderson refers to it. When that perception is skewed one way or the other, it is helpful to have an opposing view for the sake of balance.

The article presents and leaves unchallenged Ezekiel's belief that the Southern states seceded not because of slavery, but to preserve their constitutional rights. This old chestnut keeps surfacing as a palliative for those who refuse to accept that one thing and one thing only bound 11 southern states together in rebellion, and that was slavery. The southern fire-eaters tore the Democratic Party apart over the issue of expansion of slavery into the West, handing the 1860 election to a relatively obscure Illinois politician, Abraham Lincoln. His election panicked the states in the Deep South, and they bolted the Union out of fear that Lincoln would implement a policy prohibiting the expansion of slavery.

The article also offers as fact the idea that blacks were integrated into the Confederate army while in the North, they "were segregated into units commanded only by white officers."

Confederate President Jefferson Davis would not officially condone the use of black troops until the desperate days near the end of the war because it ran counter to what the Confederates were fighting for the preservation of slavery. Conversely, nearly 200,000 escaped slaves from the South and free blacks in the North joined the ranks of the Union army and played a key role in defeating the Confederacy.

I recognize Mr. Anderson's desire to keep the memory of the Confederacy alive, and I applaud him for doing it. At the same time, history should be presented as it really was, and not as we wish it had been.


THOMAS J. RYANT

Bethany Beach, Del.


Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.

The Washington Times Comment Policy

The Washington Times welcomes your comments on Spot.im, our third-party provider. Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.

 

Click to Read More and View Comments

Click to Hide