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The Readers' Forum: Friday letters

The Readers' Forum: Friday letters

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Indispensable

The entire world has been consumed by COVID-19 for over a year, and it is my understanding that many epidemiologists have compared the ravages of this pandemic to the 1918 influenza pandemic that also swept the entire world. To be sure, COVID has altered our lives and dictated changes in routine behaviors more than anything in my lifetime.

The Winston-Salem Journal continues to be an indispensable source of information during this unsettling disruption of our lives. Our hometown paper has provided regular updates of the horrible statistics as well as the heroic acts of health providers. We readers became better acquainted with the experts such as Dr. Mandy Cohen of the Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Christopher Ohl of Wake Forest School of Medicine and Joshua Swift, the Forsyth County Public Health Director. There have been executive orders from Gov. Roy Cooper and cameo appearances from Dr. Anthony Fauci.

The Journal also keeps us informed of the crucial medical services necessary in our management of this pandemic. There are regular announcements of times and locations for testing and vaccinations.

It is my opinion that the many journalists, editors and columnists who keep us informed are among the essential workers that have made this pandemic manageable. I thank the Journal for this valuable service. Reliable information during any crisis enhances our ability to cope.

Charles Francis Wilson Winston-Salem

As his administration marks 200 million coronavirus doses in his first 100 days in office, President Joe Biden says there's a "new phase" in the federal vaccination effort, and it's relying on increased outreach to Americans to get their shots, both to protect them and their communities.

Beyond the wording

I would urge the writer of the April 20 letter “Voter suppression?” and anyone else who does not understand how voter-suppression laws work, why they are written and how insidious they are, to read the very well-documented book “One Person, No Vote: How Voter Suppression is Destroying Our Democracy” by Carol Anderson.

The letter writer declared “Most state voting rules fill a small pamphlet and are quite liberal ...” This may be true for the laws themselves, but it is necessary to look beyond the wording to the specifications of the laws. (Remember Georgia’s new voting laws are about 95 pages long!)

For example, “provide identification” seems very straightforward. However, what if the identification that is specified is one that you do not have? Then what if that identification can only be obtained at an office that is 50 miles away and you have no way of getting there? What if you found transportation but the office is only open four hours a day during hours that you are required to be at work? These obstacles may not be too cumbersome to most middle- or upper-class folks, but, if you are poor, these things can be insurmountable.

Mary Billingsley Winston-Salem

Redistricting reform

The Census Bureau will, shortly, release to all states population distribution figures resulting from an analysis of the 2020 census. States will use those numbers to redraw election districts.

The redistricting in some 20 states will be done by independent commissions or by bipartisan committees. North Carolina is not among those states. Here, the legislature draws the districts and that has resulted in our state being the most gerrymandered in the nation. Fellow citizens, like it or not, we live in a state where the politicians pick their voters, not vice versa. Almost all our elected officials, regardless of party, have “safe” seats. And, when districts are challenged in court, the legislature spends our tax dollars defending the gerrymander in order to protect their jobs.

This is a call to the Winston-Salem Journal, the Winston-Salem City Council and the Forsyth County Board of Commissioners to issue statements and resolutions in favor of establishing an independent, nonpartisan redistricting commission in North Carolina to handle the redistricting process this year.

Kenneth R. Ostberg

Winston-Salem

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