October 30, 2006

AZ Propositions - 200

Proposition 200 - "ARIZONA VOTER REWARD ACT"

My stand - ARE YOU KIDDING ME!?!!?

Please, we are going to bribe people, people who think the lottery is a reasonable retirement plan, to go to the polls. Not that they would actually have to have a clue about what they vote on, all they have to do is show up. They can just randomly mark their ballot and turn it in. Ridiculous.

Couldn't people just do that now? Absolutely, but we aren't bribing them to do it. With no incentive to show up, why would anyone bother unless they had an opinion.

Voting is a right, it is a privilege, it is one of our greatest chances to make a difference - but it is voluntary for a reason. Just as you have the right to vote, you have the right no to.

Shoot, you don't even have to get it right to be in the lottery. At least if they limited the drawing to the voters whose votes came closest to the election results, voters might be inclined to study which candidates and/or propositions made the most sense. Or they would just go with whatever the polls said.

No matter how you slice it, this is a stupid idea. When the only person who writes in to support it is the author, that should tell you something. Lets see what he has to say:

Some criticize "Voter Rewards" as being morally wrong. If that might be the case, we should look to the ultimate authority on morals and ethics. What does God say? Do what you are supposed to do and I will REWARD you with eternal life in heaven. What are we saying? Do what you are supposed to do, vote, and we will REWARD you with a chance to win a million dollars. If incentives are good enough for God, they are good enough for the voters of Arizona!
I don't believe God's reward is interpreted by biblical scholars to be monetary. Your reward for voting is having a voice in your government, the opportunity to make a difference. It should never be something you are 'paid' for.

Posted by Vox at October 30, 2006 03:45 PM | TrackBack | Arizona , politics

Hey, Vox. I'm going to vote "yes" on this one. Maybe you, Michelle, Edward, and I can argue the issues over lemon drops one day (the drink, not the candy). Here's my logic: most anything that increases participation in the democratic process is a good thing. Let's say that 100 people decide to vote just for the possibility of a cash payout. They're likely to vote at random; their votes will, therefore, cancel each other out. But let's say, too, that one person says, "Okay, now that they're going to make it worth my while, I'm going to show up to vote. And as long as I'm going to show up, I might as well pay a little attention and try to vote with a modicum of intelligence." (Not that this sort of person would use a phrase like "modicum of intelligence.") That one person is worth it to me. In short, I don't see the harm, and I see some potential benefit, from a perspective of democratic theory.

Posted by: Special Agent Johnny Utah at October 30, 2006 07:56 PM

It seems to me that lottery reward is most likely to attract those who look to the government for a handout, those who want something for nothing, those who think in the short term, rather than the long.

I expect that the effect of the added voters will not be positive or neutral.

Posted by: BK at October 30, 2006 08:34 PM

SAJU - I have to tell myself you left that comment just to stir things up. Right?

First off, I don't agree that it is critical to increase voter participation. I do my part to encourage people to register and vote, I certainly remind people to do their part and make their voice heard. However, if they are not motivated to do so, if they don't feel strongly enough to do so - then I don't want them to vote. It is a privilege, not a chore. Those who choose to stay away from the polls are, in effect, casting a vote by not voting. If only 10 people show up at the polls next Tuesday, the process still works - those 10 voters have chosen to make their voices heard in one way, the rest of the population has chosen not to. I agree it is a poor choice, but it is a valid one. I am not about to pay them to show up.

As BK points out, the people this is likely to attract are not a 'random' group, but more likely those who want something for nothing, a block that is likely to vote for programs that support that end. Hand outs and redistribution of wealth, that is their mantra.

They are also likely to believe whatever the media tells them to believe, causing them to go into the voting booth convinced of whatever the AZ Repugnant or channel 12 'reported'.

How about every one who votes gets a ticket with a number that is connected to their ballot. If they choose to redeem it, they call a number the next day - one of the issues they voted on is chosen at random and if they can remember how they voted on it, and give the reason they made that choice, they get $5. ;-)

Random voting would be bad enough, and not worth it for 1 new committed voter. But arm twisting an apathetic electorate to cast their uniformed votes is frightening - and really, really bad politics.

Posted by: Vox at October 31, 2006 09:18 AM

No, I wasn't trying to be controversial. Voting is the fundamental democratic right. Among the many measures of the health of a democracy, voter turnout is probably the most important. In general, then, I support most anything that makes it easier for people to vote (e.g., relaxed registration laws, mail-in ballots), or encourages more people to vote. And I don't particularly care what kind of people we're bringing into the electorate, either -- stupid or smart, insightful or gullible, rich or poor, whatever. That's because democracy isn't about producing the best laws and the most efficient, effective government. It's about governing with the consent of the governed. The less consent we have--e.g., the lower voter turnout is--the less legitimacy our government has.

That's what I think, anyway. So, if you told me that we could boost turnout to 95 percent, but that Democrats would have an electoral lock as far as the eye could see (b/c the new voters you were bringing into the electorate would be natural Democrats), I'd say, "If that's the price of democratic legitimacy, so be it." (I'd also consider moving to Australia...but I'd be proud of the democratic purity of my home country.)

Posted by: Special Agent Johnny Utah at October 31, 2006 07:09 PM

I don't think that "Democratic Legitimacy" hinges on how many people participate, as long as everyone has the opportunity to do so.

The legitimacy of the process would only be called into question for me if those who wanted to vote were prevented somehow, or those who did not want to vote were coerced - for instance with a lottery.

Posted by: Vox at November 1, 2006 07:44 AM

#1 I don't want my tax money to be wasted in this way, even if it's only a few cents.

#2 I don't think it will help increase an informed electorate and an uninformed electorate could easily be blamed for Germany's election of fascism in the 30s (I worded that intentional to not use the H or N words.)

#3 Voting is a civic responsibility, bribing people to do their civic duty is bad public policy.

Posted by: Thomas at November 1, 2006 08:32 AM

To keep this from going round and round, the only thing I'd add is that I'd call a lottery an inducement, not coercion. Coercion implies force and lack of choice. No one is forcing anyone to do anything.

Posted by: Special Agent Johnny Utah at November 1, 2006 10:55 AM

200: Not just No, but HELL NO!

Posted by: Macker at November 2, 2006 07:42 AM

Ok, this one I'm still in the air about too. But I am getting a kick out of this one.

All of your comments I agree with. But in all honesty it really won't get anybody out there voting. It really won't. People who don't vote are either lazy, don't give a shit, or have no friggin clue they have to register or even when voting day is. Chances are they don't watch the news or read the paper and don't even know this is being voted on. The people who are voting on this are the voters who vote regulary, so why not get a little free money? heh heh

Posted by: Lori at November 6, 2006 09:12 PM

I think it will get people to vote - specifically those lazy, no friggin clue people. If they will stand in line to pay for a handful of lottery tickets, they will certainly do it for a free chance at a million.

I find the prospect frightening - even if they all vote by mail :-)

Posted by: Vox at November 6, 2006 09:17 PM