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Let's take our vote more seriously

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Voting via computer and motor-voting are some of the latest gimmicks we have come up with to persuade people to be so kind as to cast their ballots. Here in Travis County, Texas, at great expense to the taxpayers, we have even instituted "early voting" in order to accommodate those folks who cannot make it on election day, though the polls will then be open a full 12 hours.

During early voting, at least 15 sites in our county are open for several days before the actual election day, inviting citizens to cast their ballots. But many of these sites average less than a dozen eager visitors per day. For voters' additional convenience there are mobile units cruising around. Also, dedicated citizens will offer rides to the polls for the asking. And absentee ballots are readily available, too.

Instead of rejoicing at our ingenuity to cajole an American citizen to cast his or her ballot, I can't help being utterly disgusted. I grew up in Germany under Hitler's totalitarian regime, and I recall well how we would have liked to enjoy the luxury of secret ballots. How the people in Soweto, South Africa, in 1994 valued their opportunity to participate in an honest election. Have we forgotten the picture showing how those South Africans stood in snaking lines for many hours in the scorching sun, awaiting their turn to cast their ballots?

Have we also forgotten the battles that were bitterly fought in our own country to secure the vote for women, for blacks, and 18-year-olds? It hasn't been that long ago. Was it all for nothing?


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