Editor: I disagree with your March 26 editorial [“Sticking It to Towns and Cities?”], opposing Virginia’s new requirement that all towns and cities hold elections in November.
As you readily admit, this new rule will increase voter turnout. In a representative democracy, making it more convenient for more voters to participate in choosing their local leaders is a good thing. And, if moving elections to November means that local politicians have to work harder to convince a broader group of voters of their fitness for office, that is, on balance, a good thing, as well.
My primary objection to your editorial, however, is with your choice of words, specifically the phrase “quality turnout.”
Not that long ago, Virginia had very strict tests for voter “quality,” including racially discriminatory poll taxes and literacy tests designed to assure that only the “right” (i.e., white) people voted.
As evidenced by new laws designed to create barriers to voting in states like Georgia, some modern politicians would still rather spend their energy making it harder for the “wrong” people to vote instead of trying to convince a growing electorate of the rightness of their positions.
I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume that your reference to “quality turnout” was an inartful way of suggesting that an expanded electorate might not be as well informed about town and city issues.
There is, of course, a ready solution for that concern – more and better information. You publish a newspaper devoted to local news. Perhaps you should concentrate on doing the best job possible of educating voters on local races and issues, and let voters – of whatever number and “quality” – decide the outcome.
Ed Gerwin, Falls Church