As a chief election judge in Prince George's County for three elections and as a scientist, I must respond to the Sept. 26 editorial "More Machine Politics."

First, the voting machine used by Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.) behaved as it should have. If a voter selects an option or candidate by mistake, a second press clears that choice and lets the voter make a new selection. The voter can also check the "Review Ballot" screen before casting his or her vote.

In addition, unlike paper or punch-card ballots, voting machines make it impossible to vote for two people for the same office.

Second, I was appalled that Stan Boyd, a Montgomery County election judge, decided to "find out more about the machine's innards" and took it home. This behavior is inappropriate. It is not up to an election judge to take possession of a voting machine to see how it works. The machine is county property, and an election judge only its temporary custodian in the polling place.

Finally, while a paper trail may make it easier to compare the results with the data card in a machine, this was not an option with the old lever machines. Some security concerns are valid, but others are overblown because of a misunderstanding of how the machines and their data cards are handled.

ROBERT N. NELSON

Bowie