Where are all the voters, and what can we do about it?

Where are all the voters, and what can we do about it?
Just 23% of registered voters bothered to cast a ballot in last year's mayoral election. Last week, turnout was an abysmal 9.5% for a Los Angeles Unified School Board special election. (Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: As an expat who lived in Australia for 12 years, I remember the civic duty and pride that marked elections in that country. And if you chose not to vote, the fine was minimal but could result in a much larger fine, plus court costs.  (Re "Bucks for ballots," Column, Aug. 27, and "The voter turnout conundrum," Editorial, Aug. 22)
For Australians, voting wasn't just a right, it was a responsibility the government enforced.

As U.S. citizens, it seems reasonable to require that we engage in that most basic of civic duties: voting. This doesn't mean we have to vote for anyone in particular. We still have the option of voting for Mickey Mouse if that satisfies the fatuous sense of personal freedom entitlement that Americans have adopted of late.

Empowerment of the disenfranchised means things might actually change. Perhaps all of the "fines" collected from nonvoters could be pooled in a lottery for those who do vote.

Marilynn Loveless, Redlands



To the editor: Why all the encouragement to get people to vote?

Who cares? They don't.

Those registered — the ones who took the time to sign up to vote — for some reason don't seem to remember why they did.

Every voter who doesn't cast a vote makes my vote all the more powerful.
So quit encouraging others to vote. Don't dilute my power.

If things keep going in this direction and the active voters of Los Angeles County dwindle to 1,000 or so, how far away can the wining and fine dining — much like the Hollywood foreign press gets during Golden Globe season — be?

David Reid, Hollywood


To the editor: There are good reasons for not voting: People who are uninformed or just don't care shouldn't vote.

Offering a prize to vote does not guarantee people will responsibly prepare themselves.

Any kind of financial incentive to vote is a bad idea.

Donald R. Croley, Hermosa Beach


To the editor: The surest way to increase voter turnout and participation is to make it convenient to access related information and to vote. And the best way to make voter research and voting convenient is via online Internet-based voting.

Vote anywhere, any time and on any Internet-connected device, including smartphones.


As demonstrated throughout the world, Internet-based online voting can be done effectively, and it should be done in California, by evolving the technology and making it another voting option — sooner rather than later.

Jeff Drobman, Westlake Village


To the editor: I agree with your editorial board that local government civics needs to be taught in school to help improve participation in local elections.

However, I believe it is a bigger problem than most people think. If people were educated about state and local government, they would be more engaged.

Politicians regularly make promises that they cannot deliver because they themselves don't understand how state and local governments work either — until they are elected.

Mark Mercer, San Diego


To the editor: Your editorial missed the most obvious measure to increase voter turnout. Many democratic countries hold elections on Sundays.

Holding elections on a workday flagrantly favors the leisure class over the working masses. And that suits the U.S. plutocracy just fine.

Anthony Saidy, Los Angeles


To the editor: I support the changes you advocate in your editorial to make voting easier and more efficient.

But I believe that having a lottery would increase voter participation as well. It would have other positive effects such as adding more interest and excitement and making it a more festive process.

Harry Shragg, Reseda


To the editor: Isn't offering cash prizes to vote a bit like paying people to go to church?

It seems to me that we want voters who are engaged and willing to make decisions based on the issues — and not on greed.

Philip Guiral, Laguna Hills


To the editor: A major reason for the lack of voter interest and turnout: The limits on the amount any individual can contribute to a politician and limits on independent campaign funding by corporations and unions were changed.

We have super PACs and the U.S. Supreme Court to blame for this, apparently forgetting that the majority of Americans cannot compete with the likes of the Koch brothers and the huge sums of money donated by the private sector.

This definitely is not democracy in action.

Dennis Naiman, Santa Barbara


To the editor: Your awkward assessment as to why no one is voting fails to address the core of the problem.

Voters are tuning out because most races in Los Angeles are predetermined through embedded incumbency, nonpartisan races, senseless jungle primaries and lopsided, gerrymandered districts.
The special interests have become the catered target as individual voters choose, more and more, to stay home.

Nick Antonicello, Venice Beach

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