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Voter Apathy in June Primary

July 19, 1990

'Tis the season to bash non-voters. Polls show that more citizens don't vote than do ("Many Say They Are Too Busy, Put-Off to Vote," front page, July 8). "Too busy," they say and we sneer. (But did we vote?)

I find it hard to blame those non-voters, however, when I look at their daily lives. First, they have to fight like tigers to put food on the table, pay their taxes, keep up the mortgage or rent, the car payments, shoes for the kids, and a dozen more calls on their time and income before they can begin to think about anything else. Then, as if that weren't enough, they are expected to inform themselves about highly technical propositions that fill the thick voter pamphlets which arrive a few days before elections. Further, they are asked to winnow truth from fiction in the political campaigns that sweep through their lives like empty thunderstorms.

I will guess that the percentage of people who vote is close to the same number who are retired or by some lucky chance don't have to fight the same schedule as the average working family. But democracy never did mean "one citizen; one vote." In the early days, only white, male landholders could vote and it was 1920 before women won that right. We never have achieved that phony goal of universal civic participation in self-government. Non-voting has always been part of our history.

WILLARD OLNEY

Hesperia

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