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Courage shows in Afghan voting Strong turnout in emerging democracy shames citizen apathy in America

The Taliban and terrorists threw whatever they had in the way of voters in Afghanistan Monday, and it wasn't enough. Even though the threats proved mostly verbal, initial returns indicate more than half of that nation's voters braved them to cast ballots in the first national assembly elections.

In contrast, only about 20 percent of Erie County's voters braved inconvenience to vote in last week's primaries. Whether that was due to apathy or to disgust with the current government, it's shameful and ultimately damaging to democracy. Unexercised franchises get flabby, too.

Violence did mar Afghanistan's elections. Pre-election attacks killed at least 15 people, some just for having voter identification cards, and terrorist threats and the Taliban's call for a boycott kept turnout below the strong 70 percent showing for last October's pioneering presidential election. But heavy security at least ensured safety at polling places -- only 16 of 6,270 failed to open, and only three voters were wounded in minor attacks. A "spectacular attack" terrorists threatened failed to materialize.

That's a step forward for representative government in Afghanistan, where the vote was never in danger of being taken for granted. Who's teaching who lessons about democracy?

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