A sampling of readers' letters, faxes and e-mail.

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Handling rejection

Haphazard approach
from county to county

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Editor, The Times:

I take exception to your editorial “Keep governor’s count out of twilight zone” (Dec. 7) decrying the Democrats’ filing suit with the state Supreme Court. As I understand it, some counties very conscientiously examined the incoming absentee votes and rejected those on which the signature did not, with a very high degree of certainty, match the voter’s on-record signature. Other counties made little effort to match signatures at all, counting most absentees they received.

This seems to me to be both unfair and improper. The standards for accepting or rejecting absentee votes should be uniform across the state. If it is still practical to do so, this should be done by examining the originally rejected absentees during the hand recount.

Additionally, having the Supreme Court look at the issue is much preferable to having the secretary of state, a partisan clearly favoring one candidate over the other, calling the shots. Even if the court decides against the Democrats, such a ruling will give the recount a legitimacy it would not have if the decision is left to the secretary of state.

— Ronald Chase, Seattle

Getting it right

I didn’t think I’d live to see the day, but in the editorial concerning the hand-recount you noted:

“Democrats threaten to send the state into an election twilight zone with a lawsuit asking county canvassing boards to revisit ballots already reviewed in accordance with state election laws and rules. … The party is messing with the election and the state runs the risk of having the race decided by the courts or the Legislature.”

You finally got it!

— John Hession, Redmond

Flawed policy

As a person who has worked at a polling place, I see a real flaw in the practice of simply rejecting a ballot because a signature does not match voter-registration files.

At the polls we see older people who may have registered years ago whose signatures, because of frailty or tremors or simply age, will not look the same. We see people of all ages who have an illness or injury, i.e., quadriplegia, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s, or effects of medication, whose signature has changed. And, there is no third-party verification when many of these voters’ only option is to vote by absentee ballot.

Why should they be disfranchised through no fault of their own? Change the system if needed. Their vote has the same value as mine and could be the one vote that makes the difference. Discrimination in any form cannot be tolerated.

— Diane Rise, Seattle

Make provisions

I voted in the Nov. 2 election. My vote was included in neither the first count nor the second. The Seattle Times now argues that my vote should not be included in the manual recount.

I am a registered permanent absentee voter in Whatcom County. Prior to the election, I lost my absentee ballot. Therefore, I voted at my precinct on Election Day. Because my name appeared on the list of absentee voters, I was required to vote a provisional ballot.

My provisional ballot was incorrectly mailed from Whatcom County to King County, where I was formerly registered to vote. There, my ballot was rejected because my King County registration was canceled when I moved to Whatcom County. I would like my ballot to be returned to Whatcom County for inclusion in the manual recount. Sam Reed, our secretary of state, has ordered that previously rejected votes such as mine are not to be considered in the manual recount.

Anyone who believes in democracy should agree that votes like mine need to be counted in order to determine the true outcome of the election. The Seattle Times editorial page argues that I should remain disenfranchised in the interest of convenience. I beg to differ.

— Miles Erickson, Blaine

No changing midstream

Thank you for your editorial. It’s a close race and a contentious recount, but you’re right that rule-changing midstream is not the way to go about it. I think your editorial does a public service in speaking out to help safeguard the integrity of our election system.

— Shane Macaulay, Bellevue

War games

What happens

if you lose in real life?

How truly ironic the same issue of the paper that had an article on the battle that killed Pat Tillman also had a front-page article on the “America’s Army” video game used to snare young recruits (“Army to potential recruits: Wanna play?” Dec. 7). One can almost choke on the words of Sgt. 1st Class Martin, who said, “This isn’t some kind of psychological thing to brainwash anybody.”

I am reminded of the scene in the movie “Born on the Fourth of July” where a Vietnam vet in a wheelchair is brought into a high school to counter the recruiter’s rap. Equal time should be the rule.

As a veteran myself, I find “America’s Army” appalling and reminiscent of the type of thing I suspect Joseph Goebbels would’ve been proud of. Maybe these young men Sgt. Martin is courting should remember the words of the young Ranger who, standing next to Pat Tillman, looked over and saw that “his head was gone.”

Guys, in real life, there is no reset button.

— Terry Parkhurst, Seattle

A dose of reality

The impressionable young people being lured into the Army through video games need to talk to veterans who have lost limbs and have experienced real war.

What these kids don’t know is that once serving their country, our government does little to honor them, especially those who suffer from the effects of war. Ten thousand Gulf War veterans have died since returning from the 1991 war. The Pentagon insists on using depleted uranium in weapons even though it is linked to soldiers’ deaths and debilitating illness in the Gulf War and current war.

— Elizabeth Devine, Anacortes

Taking initiative

I-330 crucial to keeping
physicians in practice

In the past year and a half, the Everett Clinic Family Practice Department has been dramatically impacted by the malpractice crisis. We had 15 providers actively practicing obstetrical care — we now have three. I’ve had partners move out of state because of malpractice premiums. I have watched my own premiums almost triple in two years’ time.

There is no question in my mind that when patients are injured they should have the right to seek fair compensation. However, our current system supports and compensates huge attorney fees, and large percentages (30-50 percent) of settlements can go to the trial lawyers’ pockets.

I deliver babies because I feel I can make a difference in the lives of my patients and families. At this point the cost exceeds what I can bear, and I must either quit obstetrics or move to an area with less-costly premiums. Each time this happens to one of us, the community loses.

The trial lawyers will tell you that we must protect the rights of citizens. I agree. I-330 protects those rights but allows physicians to stay in practice. We can protect our rights without driving good doctors from our community. The system is broken, and it is time to fix it.

— Stephen Dahlberg , Mukilteo

I-336 boon for trial lawyers

Initiative 336 benefits no one but the trial lawyers. I would propose this: Instead of sanctioning lawyers who file frivolous lawsuits, they should be forced to pay the same penalty as the doctors. Their licenses to practice would be revoked after filing three frivolous lawsuits. That alone would help fix the system.

— Mary Moran-Swanson, Bellevue