Is Spanish language taking over?

Letters to the Editor
Published August 3, 2006

In September I, an English-speaking United States citizen, went to the Tax Collector's Office on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey to pick up a rules of the road booklet for motorcycles. I was told that the only booklets available were in Spanish. So, I reluctantly took the written test without any studying.

My English-speaking sister-in-law just moved here from Chicago. She heard that the schools are hiring bus drivers, so she went to the Tax Collector's Office on U.S. 19 in New Port Richey to pick up a booklet to study for her CDL license. She was told the only booklets available were in Spanish. She also asked for a booklet for rules of the road for a regular license. She was told that the only booklets available were in Spanish.

Luckily, I passed the motorcycle written test. I guess not much has changed since my last test, approximately 30 years ago.

My sister-in-law is a good driver and probably will pass her regular driver's test without studying. I guess she will have to take a course in Spanish in order to study for her CDL test.

If we are going to make Spanish the official language, let's just get it over with so that we can all finally move on.

Donald Long, New Port Richey

Voting by absentee ballot will leave an accurate paper trail

According to a report released in September, the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO, a nonpartisan government agency charged with determining the reliability of electronic voting systems and making recommendations to the newly formed Election Assistance Commission to ensure the reliability and security of these systems) recommended a voter-verified paper audit trail be installed to preserve the integrity of every vote cast. Other GAO recommendations should be followed as well.

The 2004 election was not without its problems, especially in Ohio. The U. S. House Judiciary Committee received more than 57,000 complaints following the election. Many complaints were made under oath. All, not some, of the voting machine errors detected and reported in Florida actually went in favor of George W. Bush or other Republican candidates.

The GAO found that "some of the concerns about electronic voting machines have been realized and have caused problems with recent elections, resulting in the loss and miscount of votes." The software in these machines is proprietary and therefore subject to manipulation and relatively easy to alter a file, making it possible for someone to vote for one candidate and have his or her vote actually be recorded for an entirely different candidate. A local supervisor of elections, despite his or her best efforts, would never even know that a switch occurred.

The only way to adequately safeguard against this scenario would be to have the ability to compare the total vote tally of a given machine to a voter-verified paper audit trail. Without a voter-verified paper trail, this could lull a local supervisor into a false sense of security, leading him or her, despite having faith in the equipment purchased, to reasonably believe that every vote was counted accurately.

We know computers are not infallible. We also know that there are those out there who would do anything to see to it that their candidate wins an election. Until such time as adequate safeguards are put into place to sufficiently address the current voter perception that their vote on such machines may not count, I would recommend every voter vote by absentee ballot. The absentee ballot is then counted by an optical scanner and, by its nature, preserves the necessary paper trail and restores confidence in the electoral process.

Chuck Kalogianis, New Port Richey

Thanks to all for donating newspapers for classrooms

Re: Times thanked for help in education, Aug. 2 letter.

On behalf of the Pasco Education Foundation, Inc., we would like to echo letter writer Donna True's thanks to the Times for its generous contribution to education through its donation of classroom sets of newspapers via the Newspapers in Education program.

We also want to inform readers that this donation is funded, in part, by a grant from the Pasco Education Foundation. We are proud of the support (grants, scholarships, and recognition events) we provide classroom teachers throughout our school system and not only thank the Times, but all the businesses and individuals that contribute to the Newspapers in Education program.

Chip Wichmanowski, Land O'Lakes