At the outset, let me express sincere appreciation to the Star Tribune for printing the lead editorial on Jan. 15, titled "In state's primary, privacy will lose." This is a creditable first step in addressing the Minnesota Legislature's attempt to abscond with a cornerstone of our republic, i.e., the privacy of a citizen's vote. Step two for the Star Tribune is to publish a complete listing of which legislators voted for and against this measure so that we private citizens can address this public embezzlement ... at the ballot box.

The very thought of our vote being made virtually public is bad enough; however, it only gets worse when one examines a few of the provisions of this back-door intrusion. To obtain a ballot a voter will need to (1) reveal and declare a party preference, and (2) sign what basically is a "loyalty oath" to that party. As to my party preference and political affiliation, what part of "it's none of your business" don't these malcontents understand? And, with reference to signing a loyalty oath to a bunch of politicians, well, this is proof positive that our Legislature has taken leave of its senses.

Additionally, a voter's name and party choice will be provided to all four major parties, with no legal restrictions as to the use of this data. And fellow Minnesota citizens, this primary and all the goodies therein will only cost us, according to the Star Tribune, a mere $12 million ... this year.

In this age of sound bites and flash-in-the-pan news, I hope that the Star Tribune will not allow this critical matter to be relegated to a below-the-fold, back-page afterthought. All citizens need to let all legislators know that they are in for a fight on this — make that a heck of a fight! I will not sit quietly by and allow the demise of the secret ballot.

Richard Palmer, Plymouth
• • •

In order to vote in this year's presidential primary, the voter must request a Democrat or Republican ballot ("A primary concern: Voter privacy," front page, Jan. 17). Your name, address, party preference, etc., will be made available to all four major political parties. My voting data may be of value to these political parties, but sharing this data with them has no value for me. I do not care to share this data with anyone. When I go vote, suppose the election official, to whom I must declare party affiliation, is a neighbor, co-worker, or relative that I don't want to share this information with. My voter privacy is compromised.

It seems like there is a simple solution: Provide a ballot that has a list of all parties and all candidates within each party. The voter can then select party and candidate in the privacy of the voting booth.

I listened to most of the Democratic debates and try to keep abreast of current presidential politics; hence, I consider myself more qualified to vote than the average voter. However, I will not vote in a presidential primary unless my voter privacy is better protected.

Andy Westerhaus, Burnsville
• • •

Early voting in the presidential primary is underway. Only one candidate, President Donald Trump, will be on the Republican ballot due to decisions by the party elite. People have the option to write in a candidate's name, but they may also want to consider the tradition of voting for "NOTA" or "none of the above."

Julie A. Risser, Edina

Not quite how I'd characterize it

I'm always fascinated by pundit writers like Cal Thomas who make claims like Democrats' "real motives appear transparent" or "everyone knows Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs are mainly responsible" for our increasing national debt and deficit ("Let's get serious: Here's what I'd like to hear from candidates," Jan. 15). Quite frankly, his statements can be disputed by facts and are open to interpretation depending on the reader's bias.

Not being a fan of the current occupant of the White House, I could argue that the U.S. House's transparent impeachment motives include the desire to hold a power-hungry president in check; Mr. Thomas would probably disagree with that.

Not being a fan of annual trillion-dollar deficits either, I would argue that defense spending and the ill-advised tax cuts of 2017 are mainly responsible. While Social Security and Medicare are of concern, these can be fixed by actions with which most people already agree (abolishing the maximum taxable earnings cap and raising the retirement age are two examples).

Moving on to Thomas' five questions for candidates, it never ceases to amaze me that the loudest complainers regarding government intrusion don't mind it when it serves their interests (such as in personal medical decisions). Quite frankly, reducing government intrusion over the past three years has resulted in dirtier air and water, increased danger in the workplace and unsafe consumer products.

Because of the constitutional requirement for separation of church and state, it seems hypocritical for anyone to impose some sort of religious "morality" just because it conforms to their own beliefs (such as those regarding individual lifestyles).

Finally, wouldn't it be nice if we followed the advice of that guy who reportedly said, "Whatever you do to the least of my brethren, you do unto me"? Or, how about we all "judge not, lest ye be judged," and "love thy neighbor as thyself"?

Kenneth Thielman, Woodbury
• • •

Thomas ignores the actual causes of the rising national debt with a dangerously misleading statement: "Everyone knows Social Security, Medicare and other entitlement programs are mainly responsible." He fails to mention the three leading causes of our budget deficits: tax breaks to the wealthy, an out-of-control military budget that year after year devours over 50% of the discretionary federal budget, and our dysfunctional health care system.

He also ignores that driving up the national debt and budget deficits have been strategic priorities of Republican administrations for the past 40 years. Not only are they the key to enriching the privileged few, rising deficits are used to bolster Republican efforts to gut "Social Security, Medicare, and other entitlement programs" that most Americans have paid into all of their lives and depend on for meeting essential needs. I hope citizens will keep these competing narratives about the causes of the national debt in mind when they cast their votes in the upcoming election.

Karen Zeleznak, St. Paul

Make the river more, not less, wild

Hennepin County Commissioner Mike Opat has introduced a proposal for a near mile-long promenade along the Mississippi River in downtown Minneapolis ("A splashy vision for the falls," front page, Jan. 14). The envisioned design would be more compelling if Opat and RSP Architects offered a bolder vision: restoring a free-flowing river with swift rapids roaring and tumbling over the rocks, which now lie hidden below the water. Dave Norbeck, president of RSP Architects, sees the walkway bringing people closer to the majestic power and beauty of the Mississippi.

There is nothing especially majestic about the tamed, artificial falls today. A wild gorge would create a more dramatic vista and improve the ecological health of the river. Imagine the power and beauty of St. Anthony Falls as a real falls again!

David Aquilina, Richfield

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