Readers React: Our ballots are too big. Give voters less to decide on, and more might just show up

A voter displays his sticker at the Midnight Mission on skid row near downtown Los Angeles on Nov. 6, 2018.
(Frederic J. Brown / AFP/Getty Images)

To the editor: Noah Berlatsky’s call to eliminate barriers to voting is right on. In California, there is an additional barrier: the overly complicated ballot.

As a very conscientious voter, I read the arguments, looked at editorials and endorsements, and worked my way carefully through the League of Women Voters’ excellent ballot guide. This took hours, and when I finally finished, I understood why so many voters are at the mercy of deceptive advertising.

When I got to the propositions, I found there were some I really cared about, others that were deceptively written and some that were so arcane they didn’t belong on a ballot. Do we all need to vote on ambulance breaks and kidney dialysis centers, or should legislators just do their job?

Let’s ask citizens to vote on only the most important issues. Otherwise, they’ll give up and find another reason to stay home.


Dee Abrahamse, Long Beach


To the editor: Although Berlatsky makes many valid points about voter suppression, he ignores the most pernicious reason why people don’t vote: Many believe politics is boring.

This disinterest provides an important tool to those who would undermine our democratic republic. By inundating us with expensive ads, by appealing to the lowest common denominator, by continuing to present us with lesser-of-two-evils choices, politicians rob us of our say in how our country is run.


Voting takes work. It also takes critical thinking, a skill that is not rewarded by filling in bubbles on a standardized test.

Stephen McCarthy, Monrovia


To the editor: Berlatsky stated that “black men and women didn’t get the right to vote until 1965.”

The 15th Amendment, ratified in 1870, prohibited the federal government and each state from denying the right to vote based on “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Nevertheless, this did not stop individual states and counties from disenfranchising black voters by imposing restrictive and punitive measures such as poll taxes, literacy tests and voting prerequisites in an effort to keep them from voting.

The Voting Rights Act of 1965 outlawed these discriminatory practices, essentially enforcing the 15th Amendment. But now we seem to be moving backward as the Voting Rights Act is being chipped away.

Wendy Prober-Cohen, Tarzana



To the editor: Would I be correct in guessing that jurisdictions where polling places are becoming less accessible and voting requirements more exclusionary are also not big on voting by mail?

Seems to me turnout would increase (and long lines at polls decrease) if all voters could fill out their ballots at home and mail them in. We’ve done it here in San Diego and, though it lacks a bit of the excitement of going to the poll, it works fine.

Also, we could make a dent in the apathy excuse by making voting mandatory as it is in some other countries. Just don’t care enough to turn out? Fine — give the government some money, and then do not complain.

Barbara Carlton, El Cajon

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