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Letters to the Editor: Mandatory voting is a bad idea in a country filled with low-information voters

Election Day
Voters cast their ballots a week before election day at UC Irvine on Oct. 30, 2018.
(Los Angeles Times)

To the editor: Three in five Americans, according to surveys, cannot name the three branches of the federal government; one in five can’t name one branch. More than a third cannot identify any of the rights guaranteed by the 1st Amendment. (“One fix could change U.S. politics, government and elections for the better: Make voting mandatory,” Opinion, Aug. 20)

Assuming even more dismal numbers among nonvoters, I would challenge op-ed article writers Miles Rapoport and Janai S. Nelson to name something tangible the country would gain by forcing these folks to participate in a process that doesn’t interest them.

The authors’ abstract appeal to diversity fails the smell test. I’m guessing they’ve heard Democrats complain for years about low minority turnout and hope to solve the problem by passing a law.

Michael Smith, Georgetown, Ky.

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To the editor: Rather than mandating voting for all eligible citizens, there is a better way for Americans, who generally hate being told what to do. Let’s make election day in November a national holiday and promote the civic pride and celebratory aspects of voting.

I have worked at the polls many times and always loved seeing the proud looks on people’s faces as they dropped their sealed ballots in the box. I have appreciated the thanks I’ve gotten for being there.

One of our problems is getting voters to the polls on a work day — or during a pandemic. Mail-in ballots have helped as well in states where they are offered and should be an option in every state and every election.

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Linda Rose, Carpinteria

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To the editor: All my life I’ve wondered why voting in this country is not mandatory. Voting should be required for all the reasons that Nelson and Rapoport give.

In a world where people struggle and give their lives for even the possibility of voting and having a say in their government, most Americans can’t be bothered to show up. I won’t even mention every American who has died trying to protect their fellow citizens’ right to vote.

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Nathalie Cunningham, Studio City

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To the editor: I agree completely with the authors that voting in the U.S. should be mandatory and regulated as they describe. I only wish I were as optimistic as they are that “if everyone is voting, then everyone is listening.”

The low-information voter exists in large numbers under the current system and is a persistent threat to sustained democracy, and the Fox News-bubble voter is as bad or worse.

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If the authors have an answer to this problem, I hope they will include it in their proposal.

Barbara Carlton, El Cajon


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