Teaching civics will fill the poll booths

Regarding your Oct. 3 article "Why the poll booths of America are empty," I believe it goes back to education. Civics teachers reached us years back on why it is important for everyone to vote.

I would agree with a legal requirement to vote. This year, we had the perfect opportunity in the primaries to vote for campaign reform by voting for John McCain. Public opinion is moving in that direction, but the nonvoter doesn't help it along.

Rose Addy West Palm Beach, Fla.

As someone who taught government and history at the high school level from 1973 to 1999, I'd like to respond to your article "Why the poll booths of America are empty."

I started teaching during Watergate and stopped during the Clinton impeachment scandal. Students in the 1970s were still reading newspapers and had memories of the upheavals in the 1960s and early 1970s. There was no cable with zillions of talking heads.

I saw students start to change sometime during the Reagan era, and, in the 1990s, I had students who wouldn't fill out a voter registration form for extra credit!

Some students told me over the years that they, unlike me, would never vote for the "lesser of two evils."

Howard Shorr Portland, Ore.

Your article on why poll booths are empty rationalizes the little contrarian peak in 1992 to that time "when voters were unhappy with the state of the economy."

It is true that Bill Clinton, Al Gore, and their buddy James Carville alleged in the 1992 presidential campaign that it was the worst economy in 50 years. This allegation was an outrageous lie. In actuality, the economic dip in 1992 was minor and the country was already coming out of it before the Clinton-Gore administration took office in January 1993.

So how should the little blip in voter turnout in 1992 be rationalized? There was a third party! Ross Perot had fired up a part of the electorate that was disgusted with Washington politics.

I applaud the idea of your newspaper running a series on "Voting not to vote."

Richard Schroeder Windsor, Calif.

If - as you say in your article, "Why the poll booths of American are empty," - voting is so compulsory in Australia that one "faces a fine on the order of a parking ticket for a 'no-show' on election day," and still only 80 percent vote there, I would conclude that Australians are more apathetic about voting than Americans are.

Peter Lushing Far Hills, N.J.

Morality can't be legislated

Your Oct. 2 editorial "What Hollywood can do" seeks solutions where none will be found. Instead of clamoring for Hollywood and government to enforce adherence to high moral standards, we should look to ourselves for solutions. For example, we can significantly curtail (or eliminate) television in our households, rather than waiting for government or industry to install a V-chip.

It's always easier to look to our elected officials in Washington for moral and ethical leadership than for each of us to take an active leadership role. But if violence, sex, and profanity didn't sell, Hollywood would not produce it.

We would be doing more than just saving our money if we stopped buying into that world. In the long run, legislating morality and implementing technological solutions won't work today any more than prohibition worked last century.

Harvey Neilson Manassas, Va.

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