Thursday, March 30, 2006


Dean C. Logan,
Director King County Records, Elections & Licensing Services Division
King County Admin. Bldg., #553 500 4th Avenue Seattle, WA 98104

Dear Mr. Logan,

We are writing on behalf of SPOGG, the Society for the Promotion of Good Grammar. We have some good news and some bad news. The good news is this: You used a semicolon correctly in the notice you sent out to inform voters of the change in the September Primary System. For us, any correct semicolon usage is cause for celebration. Hooray!

The bad news, however, is that you omitted another necessary semicolon. Just as every ballot cast must count, every punctuation mark also is crucial. The missing semicolon is on the back of the notice. The sentence should read, “Discard any other cards you may have; they are no longer valid.”

Please don’t fret about the fate of the comma currently holding the place for the missing semicolon. You could put it to use elsewhere. Several sentences start with introductory phrases that are not set off with commas. Generally, it’s a good idea to set any introductory clause longer than five words off with a comma. This helps with clarity. What’s more, you have some subject-verb agreement problems and a missing hyphen. We will point out one particularly problematic sentence, making necessary corrections in red:

“If your residence address, mailing address or name has changed, or you would like to become a permanent absentee voter, please submit a new voter-registration form.”

We are hopeful you can update this form the next time you must alert voters to important changes.

And, as a side note, we are grateful for the absentee-ballot services you have provided to some of our members. This makes it easier than ever to vote, and we are particularly excited about the upcoming presidential election. Grammatically speaking, we have never before faced such a clear choice for president, and we hope the end of an error is upon us.

Sincerely yours,

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