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A Wednesday article in the State Journal described CIA testimony given to the U.S. Election Assistance Commission about the vulnerabilities of electronic voting systems.

Until now, Wisconsin used hand-marked paper ballots, the best defense against these types of attacks. Although these ballots are tallied by electronic machines, the original voter-marked ballot remains available.

But the same day as your article, the staff of the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board recommended that hand-marked paper ballots not be used for early voting. Early voting has the potential to be used by 30 percent or more of Wisconsin voters, starting in 2010. GAB staff recommends using touchscreens, with a paper trail.

While a paper trail is better than none, it is often not verified by the voter. This type of paper trail is hard to recount, and these machines have fooled voters, such as in Sarasota in 2006, when no vote was recorded for 18,000 voters in a close congressional race.

Hand-marked paper ballots are a vital foundation of Wisconsin's proud reputation for honest elections. Let's keep them for all voters.

-Paul Malischke, spokesperson for Fair Elections Wisconsin

\ The GOP's newfound thriftiness

I assume many are torn between President Obama's save-the-burning-house-first economic stimulus programs and the Republicans' don't-get-us-in-deeper-debt criticism. Wouldn't it be nice if those same Republican lawmakers had shown their backbones and spoken up five or six years earlier against the over $20 billion a month spent on Bush and Cheney's ideological war in Iraq?

When these lawmakers talk about sensible spending now, it's hard not to consider them hypocritical.

-Wen Chen, Middleton

\ No evidence that court has problems

Once again the Wisconsin State Journal has missed the mark and demonstrated how out of touch it is with the people.

You Friday editorial, "For Supreme Court: merit reform," denigrate the elected court and the countless decisions it makes because of a few decisions you may not like. Just because you favor minority rule doesn't make it right, and it doesn't sit well with the people.

You try to sway public opinion with big editorial headlines but no substance.

Merit reform is not only a bad idea, it's a dangerous one because it takes us yet another step away from the principles inherent in a democratic republic. As a thinking electorate we need to be skeptical about claims made by any person seeking election or by any group supporting or opposing them. Political races will become contentious from time to time. We need to quit being shocked by these realities.

We have long held that ours is a nation of the people, by the people and for the people. Let's not take the people out of the selection of judges and justices.

-Bill Ridgely, DeForest

\ New 911 director deserves support

I am happy to know we will soon have a new and, we hope, competent 911 center director in Dane County.

I have worked as a call center manager since 1990. I know how call centers work.

When I hear the discussions regarding Dane County's 911 center over the past year I cringe. I have read the job requirements for the new 911 center director. They are poorly written and neglect experience running a call center, writing policy and procedures, maintaining certain standards (real practical skill) in favor of law enforcement and bureaucracy.

I hope the new director is as experienced as it appears. The new director deserves our support in the transition. This is not an easy job. But there has clearly been a lack of leadership starting at the top with Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk. And tragically several lives have been lost needlessly.

Maybe it's time to see how Nancy Mistele would improve the system?

i-Stephanie Buell, Fitchburg

\ Wind power needs closer scrutiny

In the State Journal's March 19 editorial, "Don't blow chance for wind power," the phrase "not in my backyard" describes a negative attitude of resistance to wind farm development.

With increases in research and personal accounts of the health problems, property value losses and even environmental issues caused by wind turbines, it's no wonder local governments are adopting laws that increase the distance the turbines can be built from homes and businesses.

Even without the issues that are documented by doctors and researchers, all a person has to do is look at articles written by people who live by and deal with the turbines. Almost every area that has a wind farm also has a great deal of personal accounts of the problems they cause.

Another question is: Why are we even talking about wind turbines? With all the issues they cause and their inefficiency, why are we not putting money toward other options with few known problems, such as solar and geothermal?

I agree we need to reduce our use of coal and oil. But pushing another problematic energy source is not the answer. Because of all the above, I must agree:Not in my backyard!

-Keith M. Hoerth, Dodgeville

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