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HesperiaStar.com
  • Bribing voters

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  • It’s amazing how many truly dumb ideas you stumble over when you’re surfing the net.
    Here’s one of the dumbest.
    The Los Angeles Ethics Commission, we read, voted unanimously last week to ask the City Council to consider “financial incentives, such as a lottery system,” to entice voters to the polls.
    The idea was put forth because, as the commission’s president put it, “spending (on elections) is going up, and voter turnout is going down.” That was his response to statistics from the latest vote for mayor in the City of Los Angeles. Last year, 75 percent of registered voters didn’t bother to vote in the mayoral race.
    Hochman, who we’d bet our bottom dollar is of the liberal persuasion, says the numbers represent “a crisis,” and on the left, the answer to a crisis is to “do something.” No matter if it’s just plain wrong.
    People who worry about the public’s lack of interest in the elective process have already tainted that process by making voting as painless as they can. Early voting and absentee voting (all voters can claim they’ll be otherwise occupied on election day and so, with absolutely no proof required, can mail it in) are two of the ways used to entice them to participate in freedom. And of course registering is such a farce that when you do something as unrelated to the political process as applying for a driver’s license, it’s automatic for the Department of Motor Vehicles to offer you a registration form.
    Yet the easier it is to vote, the less interested Los Angeles residents seem to be. Frighteningly, the same commission apparently entertained the idea of actually making voting compulsory, but cooler heads apparently prevailed and it was rejected. We wonder what the proposed penalty would have been.
    Under the proposed lottery system, the commission recommended that the LA City Council consider using cash prizes to lure more people to the polls. Hochman said that “Maybe it’s $25,000, maybe it’s $50,000. That's where the pilot program comes in — to figure out what ... number and amount of prizes would actually get people to the voting box,” he was quoted in a Los Angeles Times story Aug. 14.
    We thought getting out the vote by bribing the voters with cash was something confined to Chicago politics, but perhaps not. We also thought voting was a civic duty. But no, it turns out that elected officials are so desperate for public validation of their status that they’re willing to expend the public’s money to bribe the public into doing what should be a matter of public choice unencumbered by bribes.
    This is, in our view, one more signpost on the road to the collapse of democracy as we know it. Make that knew it. 

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