The root of low voter turnout

Los Angeles Times - - OPINION -

Re “Would you vote for $25,000?,” Ed­i­to­rial, April 21

Rep­re­sen­ta­tive democ­racy is al­ways at risk, but low voter turnout is a symp­tom, not a cause.

Cyn­i­cism cer­tainly is a cause, per­pet­u­ated by hu­morists such as Jon Ste­wart and opin­ion en­ter­tain­ers such as Rush Lim­baugh. It doesn’t help when the gover­nor pur­sues a rail project that he knows no­body would vote for in its present form.

The truth, how­ever, is that lo­cal elec­tions are where vot­ers re­ally can make a dif­fer­ence, and the av­er­age Joe and Jill re­ally can have in­flu­ence if they get even min­i­mally in­volved. Any­one who has ever got­ten a stop sign erected or a pot­hole filled af­ter a call or three to a City Coun­cil of­fice can at­test to this. Cer­tainly, those seek­ing lo­cal of­fice pound the pave­ment suf­fi­ciently to ac­tu­ally meet many of their po­ten­tial con­stituents.

Yet peo­ple are, ev­i­dently, too lazy to bother to vote — they can pro­gram their DVRs re­motely so as never to miss a “Game of Thrones” episode, but fill­ing out a mail-in form or stop­ping by their polling place on elec­tion day is just too hard.

Fun­da­men­tally, turnout is low be­cause peo­ple have got­ten used to ab­di­cat­ing per­sonal re­spon­si­bil­ity. That will be the cause of democ­racy’s demise, not the lack of turnout it­self.

Jef­frey C. Briggs

Hol­ly­wood

I think it’s time to cre­ate a new ti­tle, some­thing like “rep­re­sen­ta­tive emer­i­tus” or “se­na­tor emer­i­tus.”

Per­haps one of the rea­sons younger gen­er­a­tions are lethar­gic when it comes to vot­ing is that many feel be­ing rep­re­sented by their grand­fa­thers and grand­moth­ers does not serve their in­ter­ests. Cre­ate a re­tire­ment age (say, 70), and then keep those who want to con­tinue serv­ing on an ad­vi­sory panel but with­out vot­ing rights.

Leg­is­la­tures need to be more about the fu­ture than past glo­ries.

Werner Haas

West Hol­ly­wood

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