Letters to the Editor: Jury duty is a requirement of citizenship. Why not mandate voting too?

A man casting a ballot at a polling station.
A Times’ reader suggests that voting should be a requirement of U.S. citizenship.
(Los Angeles Times)
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To the editor: Columnist Jonah Goldberg’s fear of mandatory voting can be summed up in the belief that it would be “coerced speech” and therefore something contrary to America’s basic values.

That seems to ignore other coerced activities that the majority believes “promote the general welfare,” in the words of the preamble to the Constitution.

Does Goldberg hold that education should be voluntary? Does he oppose licensing drivers? Would he make jury duty a totally voluntary undertaking? Does he think all Americans would freely send in their taxes because they believe, as Oliver Wendell Holmes stated, they are the “price we pay for civilized society.”


Mandatory voting should be a requirement of citizenship like so many other duties we willingly perform for the greater good of our family, our neighbors and our compatriots. If voters don’t like the ballot choices, they can leave the boxes blank rather than stay home in a righteous funk.

Godfrey Harris, Encino


To the editor: I don’t believe that mandatory voting is attractive, even as a thought experiment.

Boycotting an election is a form of free speech and is used around the world as a protest against a fraudulent vote or against the reelection of a totalitarian ruler who somehow wins every election.

Whenever voter turnout is dramatically low, the outcome is suspect.

William Brenner, Beverly Hills


To the editor: People chafe at mask mandates, which can actually save lives. I can already hear the pushback on mandatory voting.

Kathleen Dunn-Solomon, Simi Valley



To the editor: Goldberg’s use of the word “psephological” in describing former President Trump’s conspiracy theories drove me to my dictionary.

I learned it derives from the Greek word “psephos,” meaning pebbles. In ancient Greece, pebbles were used to predict election results. Ergo, it refers to the “scientific study of elections.”

Thanks to Goldberg for giving me a new word to drop casually into political discussions.

Joan Hake, Santa Ana