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The Votes Not Heard Around the World

November 05, 2002

I take my duty as a citizen very seriously and therefore have voted in every election since I came of age in 1971, with one exception. In the 22 years I have lived in Santa Monica, I have needed an absentee ballot three times. Two out of the three times I never received a ballot -- once costing me an expensive one-day round-trip from Boston just to vote. When confronted with these missing ballots, the office of the registrar, after much prevarication, settled with: "It was mailed." Not even an apology. As if that would wash with the tax department if it hadn't received your check!

In early September, knowing I would be abroad for three months, I drove to the registrar's office in Norwalk (far from Santa Monica) to make sure my request was acknowledged. I even had the clerk read back my address in case of problems reading my handwriting. They assured me the ballot would be mailed by Oct. 5. It is now Nov. 1; there is no ballot. I shall be disenfranchised again. Considering all the hullabaloo made over the last election, I would think there might be less of this. I am furious! Does the registrar of L.A. County have any idea how serious the job is, or is it just a cushy, bureaucratic fiefdom?

Peter Kaye

Kingston upon Thames

Britain

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Pollsters expect this election to draw a record low voter turnout. But in Turkey's election on Sunday, virtually all of that country's 41 million voters turned out to cast ballots. This is because they were fined if they didn't.

After much thought, I've decided to hell with the "you can lead a horse to water, but you can't make it drink" system. Fine the horse and he'll drink. Our democratic system and its apathetic voters have become a worldwide embarrassment. Fine them and guarantee a respectable turnout.

Steve Smith

San Gabriel

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Steve Lopez asks, "How come the country that can't stop pitching democracy to the rest of the world is unable to conduct an election that enlightens and engages the public?" (Nov. 3). This sentence should be enshrined on the office wall of every person associated with the slimy state of politics in our country.

David Abrecht

Palm Desert

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