• November 03,2012

    Protect our votes from hacking

    Over 75 percent of us Vermont voters slide our ballots into the optical scanner as we leave the polling place, trusting that our votes will be counted accurately, and probably they are.

    However, I wonder how many people realize that the companies that contract to program the removable memory cards for the optical scanners forbid access to the computer programming. This results in there being no oversight by anyone with programming expertise outside of those companies. Yet it is possible for the memory card programming to be hacked or to simply have “bugs” in it.

    To view a graphic demonstration showing that those memory cards can be manipulated to affect election results, Google “Hacking Democracy” and view at least scenes 8 and 9 of this eye-opening film.

    Recognizing that there needs to be some check on this possibility, at least 24 states have mandated that there be regular audits on every election, and some states routinely do so on all the contests. Yet Vermont is weak in this area, having conducted audits only on a tiny number of elections, not all random, and not on all races. This is solely at the discretion of the secretary of state, since our Legislature has not yet mandated that ballots counted by optical scanner have random hand-counted audits as a comparison.

    Wouldn’t you think this would be a wise practice (both statewide and nationally) to help ensure that our votes are counted as we intended them?

    If so, I hope you will alert your legislators to remedy this situation.

    More information on this topic can be found at verifiedvoting.org and at vtvoters.org.

    Nancy Rice

    Randolph Center

    Voters to decide access, not rights

    Virginia Renfrew makes a critical error in her Friday letter regarding the upcoming Berlin vote relating to Berlin Pond. In her letter Ms. Renfrew stated, “Berlin voters will decide whether to allow public access to Berlin Pond for recreational use.” It is actually not within the authority of Berlin voters to deny or allow access to Berlin Pond. The pond belongs to all Vermonters, and the rights of all Vermonters to use the pond are clearly established in our state Constitution. Berlin voters will decide whether to allow public access to the parcel of town land adjacent to the pond. Essentially the voters of Berlin are voting whether to join with Montpelier in blatant obstruction of the exercise of constitutional rights by Vermonters, or to enable the exercise of those rights. Regardless of how the vote turns out, the actual right to use of Berlin Pond by all Vermonters is not in question.

    Patrick Cashman


    Pollina all the way

    It is rare to find a candidate that one can vote for without hesitation, conflict or doubt. Anthony Pollina is such a candidate. Anthony has proven to be a tireless and incorruptible advocate for working-class Vermonters, someone who knows his way around the Statehouse and can accomplish positive change for the people that he represents.

    I urge every voter in Washington County to vote to re-elect Anthony to the state Senate.

    David Kreindler


    The real ‘war on women’

    President Obama’s campaign accuses opponents of conducting a “war on women,” a slogan ginned up to stimulate the president’s liberal supporters. As usual a policy disagreement becomes a “war” or a “hate crime.” Indeed women are being victimized but not in the way portrayed. The Planned Parenthood Federation of America, the largest abortion provider in America, zealously supported by the Obama administration, performs hundreds of thousands of abortions annually. PPFA’s annual budget exceeds $1 billion, and roughly 46 percent comes from federal, state and local government. Approximately half of those abortions destroy unborn girls; that’s the real war on women, little women, innocent, vulnerable, defenseless.

    In May the U.S. House passed the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act to outlaw the odious practice of sex-selection abortion, which almost always means aborting unborn girls simply because they are girls. Commonplace in Asia (estimates reveal some 160 million “missing” females), the practice also occurs in the U.S. An Austin, Texas, Planned Parenthood employee was recently caught on tape counseling a woman how to get a sex-selection abortion. Sadly President Obama opposed the Prenatal Nondiscrimination Act, and a minority of 168 House members including Peter Welch complied with the political demands of pro-abortion pressure groups, rather than defend the coerced women and their unborn daughters, who are victimized by sex-selection abortions. That’s the real war on women.

    Abortion is the least regulated invasive procedure in the country. Many states do not require that women be fully informed about the abortion procedure, its potential risks or alternatives — something required for every other medical procedure performed in the United States. Vermont also allows non-physicians to perform abortions. Just another example of the real war on women.

    Judith Mlac Sekerak


    Shumlin is more PR than leader

    I am writing in support of Randy Brock for governor. I have communicated on several occasion with Mr. Shumlin and as one of the political ads says, the Democrats do not want to hear from the common folks like myself.

    Mr. Shumlin continues to support a waste of taxpayer monies in the building of very expensive roundabouts as a means of providing greater safety on our highways, to the tune of $2 million or more for each one. Secondly he boasted recently in the News and Citizen paper in Morrisville that the 644 exchange was 100 percent served with broadband and DSL service through FairPoint communications, a complete fabrication since Belvidere is in that exchange and doesn’t have service and no word as to when we will get it.

    Mr. Shumlin is more about getting his picture on TV or in the paper rather than serving the people of Vermont. The mayor in Barre who has come out in support of Mr. Shumlin has made an exaggeration a part of his language structure when he tries to convince us that Mr. Shumlin has “moved heaven and earth” to get things done. He may have moved some earth, but I don’t think he is in any position to move heaven, even though he may think he can.

    The Rev. Lyle M. Miller Sr.

    Belvidere Center

    A proven record of action

    In his first term as Washington County state senator, Anthony Pollina was a steady voice for progress. He hit the ground running, introducing bills dealing with autism and developmental delays, pushing the state to buy from and hire Vermonters, and digging into how insurance companies are spending our money. Sen. Pollina listens to his constituents, studies the issues and fosters good legislative action. We need him to stay in the Vermont state Senate. It’s good to have a state senator who can actually make good things happen. I hope you join me in voting to re-elect Anthony Pollina as our Washington County senator. Thank you.

    Virginia Burley

    East Montpelier

    Donahue, Lewis have made mark

    Reps. Patti Lewis and Anne Donahue are the candidates for the two-seat Berlin-Northfield district who already know what it is like to negotiate in the Legislature in the interests of their constituents and regarding the issues of greatest concern to their communities. This experience is invaluable.

    They have already made their mark as legislators who encourage independent thinking and hold the process accountable to the people. They have the experience that will serve us best, and they have earned our trust. We encourage you to vote for them Tuesday.

    Sally and Jay Pedley


    Pollina works for workers

    Sen. Anthony Pollina is a strong voice for labor and working Vermonters. I work for the Vermont State Employees Association, and I am voting to re-elect Sen. Pollina to the Vermont State Senate.

    Sen. Pollina’s advocacy for workplace dignity and respect, fair tax policy, and increased government transparency is critical to have in our Senate. I am proud to work for a union that has endorsed Sen. Pollina, and I ask you to join me in re-electing him Nov. 6.

    Mark Mitchell


    Taylor, Poirier committed to labor

    I am the president of the Vermont State Employees Association and a resident of Barre. I am voting to re-elect Tess Taylor and Paul Poirier to the Vermont House of Representatives. As representatives, Tess Taylor and Paul Poirier have demonstrated their commitment to standing up for working Vermonters through legislation, their voting records and their vocal advocacy on labor issues. I am proud to belong to a union that has endorsed Reps. Poirier and Taylor. I join VSEA in applauding their work and asking for your votes on Nov. 6 to re-elect the two candidates who best represent Barre, working Vermonters and state employees.

    John Reese


    Lewis and Donahue for the House

    It is crucial to have representatives who are familiar with the needs of their communities and have their roots here. Of the three candidates, only two have that kind of experience. Patti Lewis has lived in Berlin for 29 years and has served as the town treasurer and tax collector for eight years, elected four times, and has been in the Legislature for the past two years. As treasurer, she has been instrumental in preparing the town budgets and all financial aspects of the community. Her husband, Albie, is a Northfield High School and Norwich University graduate with family roots in both Northfield and Berlin.

    Anne Donahue has lived in Northfield for 22 years and is from a five-generation Northfield family. She has ably served Northfield in the Legislature for the past 10 years.

    Robert Wernecke

    West Berlin

    Taylor for Barre representative

    We are excited this election year to be able to vote for Tess Taylor for state representative now that elections are citywide. Tess is one of the most active citizens of Barre. She always is open to questions about the Statehouse or goings on in the city.

    She is a good listener and open to conversation. You can find her at the farmers market, at the coffee shop, the library, the bookstore, the Barre Opera House, the Old Labor Hall, or just walking Muldoon, her dog. Most importantly she is involved in the community. Tess has been involved in the city revitalization efforts including the grocery store, state support of re-entry services, community breakfasts, Vermont Interfaith Action, and the many meetings and forums. She has worked to bring state workers to City Place.

    Tess is a champion for a safe and thriving downtown. We are voting for Tess Taylor because she has been a great servant for the city, and we know she will continue to work hard for the future of Barre.

    Bonnie and Mark Alexander


    Taylor leads for women

    I have been an early educator here in Barre for the last 30 years. I have dedicated much of my life to caring for our community’s children and am proud of the professional expertise that I bring to the table. My colleagues and I are committed to forming a union amongst our profession as a tool to raising the quality of care that we provide, along with bringing much-needed respect to our profession.

    On Nov. 6, I will be voting for Tess Taylor to continue to represent Barre City in the Vermont House. For the last three years, Tess has met with us to understand our challenges and has provided guidance as we set out to pass legislation that truly values women like me and the work that we do. She has been a true champion on our behalf in Montpelier. We need to vote for elected leaders who understand the struggles of working families, the needs of growing children, and who will take action on issues that provides support to hardworking Vermonters. Tess Taylor is that elected leader. I hope you’ll join me in voting to send Tess back to Montpelier.

    Gisele Chouinard


    Wilton will solve problems

    It seems that we Vermonters are at another financial crossroads. We are looking at a health care system that was voted in without defining what will be covered or how we will pay for it. This approach to health care can be likened to the story of “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” The lawmakers who rammed this bill through consider it to be just wonderful; we, who will be cared for under it and paying for it, aren’t so sure.

    As the folks up in Montpelier congratulated themselves as being forward thinking and capable of getting things done, the common folks who will be paying for the health care bill thought the whole proposal didn’t make much fiscal sense. As we scratched our heads and waited for those in charge to figure things out, we were met with silence from the state’s financial wizards. The appointed state treasurer must be OK with the plan. Then out of the cloud of ambiguity, a voice was raised from Rutland. A study was done by someone in Rutland and the financial cliff exposed. While those in office who are paid to manage our finances and guard our treasury were mute, Wendy Wilton spoke up.

    As Rutland city’s treasurer, we know that Wilton, working with the mayor and Board of Aldermen, turned the city’s finances into a success story. She is respected for her financial knowledge and ability to get the job done despite the politics of City Hall. Wendy Wilton has my vote for Vermont treasurer because she will keep the state solvent.

    Dolores Luebke

    West Pawlet

    Predictable, fast and inclusive?

    Gov. Shumlin stated recently that his goal for the Energy Generation Siting Commission he formed was to ensure that the process for permitting energy generation projects would be predictable, fast and inclusive.

    That phrase is telling of Shumlin’s real motivations. The current process is predictable. It is designed to grant large out-of-state corporations a green light for their projects. And it is fast — fast enough for those corporations to build when the tax subsidies are at their peak. Critical thought has already been suspended regarding industrial wind in the rush to build them — we do not need to make this any faster.

    He threw “inclusive” in there to try to appease those of us who argue that the real stakeholders are disenfranchised from this process. The process is not inclusive, and it is not inclusive because it is predictable and fast. The corporations willing to do grave harm with their energy projects are given lots of time and guidance from the state on how to make their project fly. Because state agencies grant them “pre-approval” on some aspects of their plan, it is also predictable. In contrast, “host” towns are given 45 days before a permit is filed and then have to petition for “intervenor” status to give input, which will be promptly ignored. Adjacent landowners and residents are not required to be notified at all and are given no formal input in the process.

    Lisa Wright Garcia

    West Rutland

    Brock for governor

    Randy Brock is a decorated Vietnam War veteran, having served in the U.S. Army during a very challenging time in our country. As a decorated veteran of the war in Iraq and a retired member of the Vermont Army National Guard, I can fully support a candidate with the personal character that reflects established qualities of leadership, initiative, integrity and selfless service.

    If Randy is elected our next governor, he will be the first Vermont governor since Dick Snelling to have served in the military. Considering the importance of being commander in chief of our Vermont National Guard, I think that it is important for us to consider putting in a veteran to that post. We have asked a lot of our National Guard and their families, especially over the last 11 years. From serving the call of our nation by fighting terrorism overseas to assisting in flood relief efforts at home, our National Guard is always there for Vermonters.

    It’s important to me that the governor of Vermont has walked in their same boot prints of service and possesses the proven credentials to be an effective and successful leader of our Guardsmen and our great state. I am asking that you please consider voting for Randy Brock on Nov. 6.

    William Edson


    Shumlin, bats and bears

    Peter Shumlin, did you or did you not recently get chased by bears in your backyard while trying to shoo them from your bird feeders? Good for you! I do wonder why the bears were in your yard and not in the forest, but I’m glad you get to experience a bit of wild in your life from time to time.

    You may be understandably challenged by the renewable energy controversies in Vermont, but it is statements like this: “Folks against solar panels, against natural gas, folks against small hydro because it’s going to kill some fish, folks against wind because some bats or some bears might be displaced” that really make you seem ignorant, cold-hearted and out of touch with nature completely. Are you under the impression that industrial wind turbines “displace” Vermont’s endangered bats? If the bears are after you now, I’ll be interested to see what happens in the spring when the bats come out of hibernation.

    Anne-Marie Keppel


    @Tagline:The Times Argus is no longer accepting letters related to Tuesdays election

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