Thursday, July 20, 2006

Paying People to Vote?

The Kojo Nnamdi Show (WAMU/NPR) had an interesting topic and on-air discussion yesterday afternoon: Paying people to vote!

I have heard/read about it every election year I can remember - much of the country appears to be in an apathetic stupor and tens of millions of people do not vote. Voter turnout has plummeted over the past few decades. As Kos points out in a recent post:
So far, the year's rock-bottom has come in Virginia.... The June 13 Democratic Senate primary drew national attention and was open to all Virginians, regardless of their party. Fewer than 4% of more than 4.5 million eligible voters showed up to nominate former Navy secretary Jim Webb to face Sen. George Allen in November.
Which brings us to back to yesterday's Kojo show. It seems some of the good people of the state of Arizona have developed a plan they think will increase voter turnout. A ballot measure has been proposed that will basically turn the election into a lottery - you vote, you're entered in a drawing for $1 million!

I bet they're right. Voter turnout will increase, but do we really have to stoop to paying people to vote? I would suggest a few other strategies....

How about making Election Day a holiday? Celebrate our birthright as American citizens, by taking the day off. Have a party, host a barbecue, tailgate at the polling stations! Alright, the tailgating might not catch on like at FedEx Field, but come on, a party's a party! Just think of the possibilities all you campaign/political types! You know, if your volunteers/supporters already had the day off, what could you do with the extra manpower? Yeah, I know there's a cost to closing everything down for a holiday, and some people would still have to work for a variety of reasons, but still... I bet it would improve turnout! And it could make Election Day a lot more fun!

How about weekend voting? Early voting?

I know, what would really help turnout... better candidates! Or maybe just better campaigns. There are a lot of good people out there running, but how many are doing the same boring thing that the consultants tell them must be done? Throw out the book and the campaign manual, get some good people together and come up with something new and daring! Get some excitement back into the political game!

Alright, enough of my rant. What do you think? Less than 4% turnout in a highly publicized, nationally spotlighted election just next door last month. What do we need to do to turn that around?

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