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Getting more people to vote should be the goal

July 31, 2006

Re "Why make voting easier?" Opinion, July 27

While I applaud Jonah Goldberg's proposition that citizenship requires a certain level of rigor, I am surprised at the nakedness of his disdain for his fellow Americans' rights. Usually, conservatives of his ilk try to hide their disdain for an energized electorate and efforts to suppress voter turnout. Goldberg turns it into a philosophy.

Why shouldn't we celebrate and encourage voting? People like Thomas Jefferson thought voting and a good education were central to a healthy civic life. National elections should also be federal holidays, and we should offer free busing to polling places.

But I guess I am just a democracy geek who actually likes a functional republic.


Los Angeles


It was precisely the fear of an uninformed electorate that led to the electoral college. But are "Justin Timberlake fans" less able to make the right choice than our current crop of voters? Single-issue and party-line voters make up huge swaths of the current electorate, voting against the public's best interest as often as they inadvertently vote against their own. Do extremists really take their citizenship more seriously, or are they simply gaming the system to get power wildly exceeding their numbers?

Given the disparate reasons that voters vote, and the wide-ranging needs of our nation, the process improves by maximizing participation. I say, entice them in; once they are there, they just might take an interest. Perhaps dinner with the president and a night in the Lincoln Bedroom would play better than a $1-million booty?


Sherman Oaks


Goldberg is right on the mark: We should make voting difficult. That's why we require people to pay a poll tax and take a literacy test at polling places. Oh wait, weren't those deemed unconstitutional?



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