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Minding the ballot box

August 10, 2007

Re "A vote of confidence," Opinion, Aug. 7

Richard L. Hasen writes a balanced description of the difficulty facing California Secretary of State Debra Bowen in providing trustworthy elections. He did not have enough space to drive the point home. I can understand the frustration of the county clerks and registrars, such as our own Conny McCormack, but I cannot sympathize with them. Thanks to our horribly gerrymandered districts, providing a ballot is a monumental task. No wonder the ease of computerized voting seems like a godsend. But the job of the clerks and registrars is to provide an election that the citizens can trust. Researchers at Princeton University showed that it could take less than five minutes to hack a machine. California has experienced malfunctions that were only rectified by a paper trail. Thus I would differ from Hasen's analysis in one respect: Bowen is a heroine.

Emil Lawton

Sherman Oaks

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Re "Political machines," editorial, Aug. 8

Look at the huge expense of polling place voting in this state. Look at that expense in comparison with the historically low turnouts. Look at the rise in absentee ballots. Why keep putting money into any kind of polling place machines? I suggest that Bowen look at Oregon's voting-by-mail program.

Close the polls and let everyone vote by mail -- problem solved.

Richard Michael

Bellflower

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