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Readers explain why people don’t vote

Last week’s column on civic “disengagement” — my term for the millions of Illinois residents who aren’t registered to vote in Tuesday’s primary, or won’t bother to cast a ballot even if they are eligible —prompted interesting emails from readers who are definitely engaged.

One lament comes from James Byrne, who writes: “There is no real civics in this country. Don’t forget, as stated by former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor, more people can give you the names of the `3 Stooges’ than can name the three branches of government.”


Byrne also blames the epic lack of participation in our most basic democratic activity — voting — on the corrupting influence of money in politics, and that’s hard to argue with.

Larry Craig offers this cynical perspective: “The people you describe are people who I wish would never vote. They have a very limited understanding of what is going on, and they would most likely just vote for the person who promises them the most goodies.”

Maybe, but that’s OK — democratic participation means registering and voting, regardless of your motivation.

Tomas Revollo strikes a different chord: “The real problem is that there are so many uncontested races. How do I explain that there are really no choices to my college son and my high school daughter?”

That query prompted us look into the lack of competition for elective office — another depressing component of our dystopian democracy — and the results are shocking.