Letters To The Editor 8/12/2018
Assure election security
Editor: Keystone Votes is a nonpartisan coalition comprising 39 advocacy and community organizations that for years has worked to update Pennsylvania’s election system.
We support many of the proposals — such as automatic voter registration and early voting — that The Times-Tribune advanced in a recent editorial (“Domestic election rules still unsecure,” Aug. 6). But arguably one of the most pressing and most important issues is missing from that list. If election security really is a priority, then the state General Assembly must appropriate funding now to help counties finance upgrades and test systems before the 2020 elections to ensure voting remains accurate, accessible, fair and secure.
Pennsylvania’s aging voting systems are more than 20 years old in some cases. The statewide voter registration database is equally old. Few counties have in place voter-verifiable paper record voting systems to guarantee the accuracy and security of votes. These are very real vulnerabilities for anyone concerned about outside influence.
Regardless of political affiliation, all of us want safe, secure elections. It won’t be easy or cheap. But investment in hardware and software is essential. That means new voting systems, electronic poll books and updates to database technology — all of which are critical first steps to ensure a modern, secure system.
NRA’s just deserts
Editor: The National Rifle Association might call it “fake news,” but media reports that summarized the NRA’s own court filings suggest that the organization claims it is on the verge of going kaput. That’s Russian for “out-of-business.”
The group claimed that it overspent by nearly $46 million in 2016, lost its insurance and can no longer access routine banking services. Through crocodile tears, it says it is in such “grave financial jeopardy” that it soon will be “unable to exist . . . or pursue its advocacy mission.”
Sounds like a fundraising pitch to me.
However, it is true that the swaggering bully with a gun melted when confronted by groups such as the state of New York, Everytown for Gun Safety, the Brady Campaign, March for Our Lives, the Newtown Action Alliance and Moms Against Guns. Even with its really big guns, it cowered when unarmed high school students from Parkland, Florida, pushed back. On top of all that, it’s red-faced by the fact that some of its leaders seem to have been caught being a bit too cozy with Maria Butina, the Russian spy who allegedly funneled money through the NRA to the Trump campaign. Candidate Donald Trump told everyone that he was so rich that he would finance his own campaign; the NRA kicked in $30 million anyway. Maybe now that it’s broke it will no longer be able to afford protection provided by the likes of Rep. Lou Barletta and Sen. Pat Toomey.
The NRA used to be a great group. It trained thousands of kids to hunt and sponsored countless gun safety programs. It morphed into a viciously callous lobbying group when corrupted by the gun industry’s easy money.
Let’s hope its members get the group back to its original “advocacy mission.” They can start by abandoning President Trump and firing NRA President Ollie North.
Restore common good
Editor: It is both shocking and time-consuming to learn each day of the misdeeds of an administration that go way beyond the category of political differences.
The secrecy, the lies, the disrespect for history, consultation, protocol and strategy, the self-aggrandizement and contempt for wisdom and expertise speak for themselves. They are weapons against democracy — they are the enemies of the people. Let us be guided by the still free and open press that exposes their danger to us every day. Civic action is our best and only strategy for taking back our sacred rule of law.
Let’s remember that we are not just a wrecking crew. We are builders. We must make sure to register voters and make certain that along with voters who already are registered, we work to replace the members of Congress who have enabled the executive branch to dismantle our most valued rules and ideals. We must work harder than ever with our state and local public servants, academic institutions, social service organizations and businesses to uphold and revive our commitment to the common good.
I get a lot of inspiration and energy from the teenage survivors of the shooting in Parkland, Florida. In their little book, “Never Again,” they speak truth to power and truth about our power: “We had no idea what we were doing at the beginning, but we ended up working so much and pushing ourselves so hard, we started to fuse. It was like we were all different metals and we melted under the heat and became the strongest alloy in the natural world.”
These kids and their fusion are a microcosm of who we are as engaged and informed citizens. The slaughter that they experienced caused them to fuse. The crisis that we are experiencing should cause us to work together — the wonderfully diverse people that we are — to throw off this threat to our freedoms, rights and responsibilities.
Insult’s staying power
Editor: During the Watergate scandal in 1973, when former Texas Gov. John
Connolly switched his political affiliation from Democratic to Republican, the following gag made the political rounds: “That’s the first time I ever saw a rat swim toward a sinking ship.”
When I saw Rep. Lou Barletta appear at a recent campaign rally in Wilkes-Barre Twp. with President Donald Trump, this old quote came right to mind.