Charles E. Buckley: Give voters incentive

September 25, 2013 

Voter incentive

The Sept. 17 People’s Forum contained an interesting letter, “Fewer voters, please,” suggesting a need for less participation at the polls. This is the same idea suggested over 200 years ago by Thomas Jefferson, who penned the opinion that only business and land owners should vote. I believe it was James Madison and others who corrected this arrogant elitist idea.

There are more advanced representative democracies than ours, such as Australia and Fiji, where everyone who is physically and mentally able to vote must do so or pay a fine. The writer’s concern about the intellectual involvement of some voters is misleading and only serves the special interests of those who hope to manage a selective turnout at the polls.

On a recent trip to Fiji, I asked a gentleman his thoughts about the fine for not voting. He replied that the fine indicated the value of his vote. This prompted him to become informed about local and regional issues and vote his preferences.

Perhaps we need a similar incentive to stimulate a truly representative and accountable government.

Charles E. Buckley

Durham

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