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Incentives to Get Out the Vote

November 16, 2002

Re "Vote for a Party, Then Have a Party," Opinion, Nov. 10: Jennifer Price's contention that if election day were turned into a more festive occasion, more people would come out to vote seems like wishful thinking to me. It isn't because we're not having a good time that those of us who dislike voting don't get over to the polls. It has more to do with unresponsive politicians -- politicians who are more interested in personal gain or career advancement than in serving their constituencies; politicians who lie; politicians who have no respect for taxpayers' money and spend it like it's an endless ocean of water; and, worst of all, politicians who are callous and irresponsible.

Making voting an easier chore or turning it into an occasion for partying will not rectify the problem. But leaders who have their constituencies' best interests at heart, who really want to make it a better world, will go a long way toward solving the voter turnout problem. I mostly quit voting when I was in my mid-20s because of Lyndon Johnson, who promised not to take us deeper into Vietnam and, after he was elected president, turned around and did just the opposite.

I remember how that shocked and demoralized me. I felt as if I had been badly misused by my president. After that experience, I soured on politicians. In the years since, after observing the behavior of countless elected officials, my sour feelings and opinions have become even more deeply entrenched. It's too demoralizing to bother voting for someone who does not engender trust and confidence.

Sandra L. Lerner

Canoga Park

*

Price is right. We don't make a big enough deal about elections. We should; it should be a sort of mock holiday, like the Super Bowl. On Nov. 5, I voted in my first-ever election. And it was a great feeling. I felt like I did my duty as an American. But I have a better explanation as to why voter turnout was so low in California. First, it was a midterm election. Second, look at the two candidates we had running for governor! These are the two biggest geeks I have ever seen. No wonder nobody wanted to vote.

I remember at the beginning of the year I was looking forward to voting for Richard Riordan; he has done far more for Los Angeles than Gov. Gray Davis has for the state. Unfortunately, I didn't get a chance to. Let's wait until 2006 and see whether Arnold Schwarzenegger runs. I guarantee voter turnout will be higher; he's already got my vote.

Mark Fabrick

La Crescenta

*

Price has some great ideas and ideals but doesn't meet the reality test. America will not take a day off to vote and then party. Increasing turnout and participation is a critical need to create the democratic society we aspire to. While I would love to have media outlets such as The Times, the networks, cable news, cover all of the opinions on an issue (not just Republican and Democrat but Libertarian and Green too), this may be too optimistic, given the economic rewards that the media have for keeping the status quo.

Perhaps the next best way to entice voter turnout is for those who wear the "I've voted, have you?" stickers to get an additional 10% off at participating stores. Grocery and department stores have sales for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Mother's Day, -- so if they're always going to be having a sale, why not reward those who have voted? It increases business for the participating stores at no cost to government while rewarding and celebrating what makes America great: freedom and capitalism.

Craig B. Coogan

Los Angeles

*

I wholeheartedly support a special day for elections -- maybe Citizens' Day or Democracy Day -- but not calling it a holiday. It should be made on a Wednesday so that some people would not be able to make it a three- or four-day weekend and leave town or go fishing.

Sylvia Lamont

Gardena

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