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Discouraged Voters Will Stay Away From the Polls

September 03, 2002

The same-day registration proposed by Richard Riordan and Antonio Villaraigosa (Commentary, Aug. 29) isn't going to solve the problem of the steady decline in voter participation in California. Politicians need to give voters more credit for no longer going to the polls.

Frankly, voters are fed up. They are fed up by mediocre candidates whom the leaders of the state Senate and Assembly knight for election, enabling them to get the lion's share of special-interest money. They are fed up by redistricting, which has all but ruled out competitive races in the state and nation.

They are fed up with candidates who are beholden to special interests that got them elected. They are fed up by elected officials who are more concerned about advancing to offices with no term limits, so they spend their time dialing for dollars. They are fed up with legislators who skirt campaign laws. And they are fed up by the actions of politicians that have brought this state to the brink of bankruptcy after a very healthy surplus.

Anthony R. Fellow PhD

Professor of Media and Politics, Cal State Fullerton


Despite what Riordan and Villaraigosa say, Proposition 52 is a bad idea. Can we truly trust there will be no fraud when we allow same-day registration and voting with only a driver's license needed for identification? Especially in light of our state government proposal to grant driver's licenses to illegal aliens.

The reason why voter turnout is low and continually falling is because people don't feel their votes count. Sadly, the feeling is our political leaders will always follow the money and will always act in the best interests of their major campaign contributors. We have seen initiatives pass with overwhelming support only to be blocked by opponents who take the measure to court the day after the election.

Until integrity can be reinstalled into the political system, voter turnout will continue to fall.

Dennis Burgess



Extrapolating from Riordan and Villaraigosa's case in support of Proposition 52, the failure of eligible people to register to vote is a serious, if not major, reason for lack of participation in California elections. Maybe the inclusion of all those people who, on election day, say, "Gee, I'd love to vote if I had only remembered to re-register when I moved to Encino," would add more concerned citizens to the process. Maybe not.

But one thing's clear: Arguing about the mechanical aspects of voting is a lot easier than trying to do something about the patently adverse effect of ubiquitous campaign ads telling us not to vote for the candidate's opponent because, well, he or she is such a slimy, untrustworthy person. You want more participation? Tell us not how we can vote but why we should.

Edward M. Young



Our voter registration system needs an all-around reform movement to boost voter participation. Proposition 52 is a step in the right direction in reviving the current system, dominated by insiders who exploit the citizens' nonparticipation to pass policies that preserve their status quo.

Our society is divided between two types of people in politics: those who, like Riordan and Villaraigosa, want a stronger, more-educated community in which voting is a must and those who want a community in which limiting voter participation is a must. Let's say yes to Proposition 52 on Nov. 5.

John Mendoza


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