Washington Post 

Free to Feel Alienated
July 8, 2000

Courtland Milloy is right to bemoan the low voter turnout in the June 27 referendum on restructuring the school board, but he is dead wrong to suggest that it has any bearing on whether the District should have representation in Congress [Metro, June 30]. Shrinking turnout is a national phenomenon that demands more thoughtful solutions than scolding citizens about their complacency. 

Take Texas, for example. In 1998, only 11 percent of registered voters--a lower turnout than in the school board referendum--participated in its primaries for governor, Congress and the state legislature. In 1999 fewer than 8 percent of registered voters came out to elect mayors in Dallas, San Antonio and El Paso. This year, only 3 percent of registered voters voted in a runoff election for the Senate. 

No one is suggesting that Texans lose their right to representation. Similarly, the alienation many D.C. residents show toward their government must be addressed, but it is no reason to deny them a vote in Congress. 

--Robert Richie 

The writer is executive director of the Center for Voting and Democracy.