Third Party & Independents Archives

Educated Voter Lottery?

My home state of Arizona, while not exactly a laughing stock, has recently become a target of some pointing and chuckling by national media outlets. This is a result of Tucsonian Mike Osterloh’s proposal to enter each Arizona voter into a million dollar lottery following an election. The main criticism—and probably most obvious one—is that such a measure would encourage people to vote without researching the candidates or issues, just for a chance to win a million bucks.

When I first heard about the proposed measure, I laughed it off thinking the idea to be utterly ridiculous. Then I thought, with a little bit of tweaking, maybe it's not such a bad idea after all. Instead of rewarding people just for voting, how about rewarding voters who have researched the candidates and propositions? Go with the lottery idea, but to be eligible for the drawing, the participants must obtain a certain score on a "ballot test." The ballot test would contain questions about candidates' positions and proposition contents.

Of course, the test preparers would need to be diligent in ensuring that the questions do not reflect any sort of bias on their part. Questions such as, "Donkey McAtheist hates America and God because..." and "Chickenhawk McBiblethumper wants poor people to die of tuberculosis because..." should be entirely avoided. Rather, the questions should reflect stated positions on the issues and be derived from speeches, debates, and websites.

Do I see the government engaging in such an undertaking? No, and I don't want them too. Can you imagine the bureaucracy involved with this endeavor? I wouldn't mind seeing one of the more moderate PACs take on this project, or something similar, though.

Posted by Desert Jeff at August 31, 2006 7:33 PM
Comment #178685


Good idea. Never would be accepted. Why do you think SAT tests are so unpopular? And that is with a fair test.

There is no test you can devise that if applied blindly and fairly will not produce a result pressure groups will call discrimination.

Posted by: Jack at September 1, 2006 12:26 AM
Comment #178694

This would become a voting rights issue, as did literacy tests. It becomes a means of exclusion. I personally feel that felons should be allowed to vote. In my opinion, voting is an inalienable right, and that we do exclude some groups, is an issue of whether we really live in a democracy. The poorer, the less educated, and the more alienated from society you become the less likely you are to vote. It is often the intent of the parties to suppress the vote. This results in distortions that lead to violent upheavals. Ignore segments of society at your own risk.

I have recently been talking to some people drawn up into our justice system. There is talk of U.S. based terrorism. They see it as a legitimate response to an indifferent and out of touch upper class. While it is mostly talk, there is a sentiment out there of exclusion and disenfranchisment. I believe that this is the energy that people like Michael Moore, and Howard Dean are tapping into. Several cities have begun passing anti-homeless type legislation in appealing to the law and order types. There is a movement to criminalize poverty. The underclass in America is growing and it is largely discounted by the Republicans and Mainstream Democrats.

Karl Rove doesn’t get this. In the Thirties the military was used to disperse Hoover-villes and in the sixties cities burned. The Fox-ination of the news media has further alienated these segments. No one is listening, as the elites fight over their own personal pork barrels.

We will see some of this expressed in November. If this continues to be ignored, there will be violence. Our forefathers attempted to diffuse these dislocations of sentiment with our system of government. Sadly, our two party elites have subverted much of the intent of the Constitution. Bush has been so blatantly arrogant about it because it doesn’t seem that far a stretch to many of the privileged class. Trust me on this: they will not eat cake much longer.

Posted by: gergle at September 1, 2006 2:14 AM
Comment #178710

I think the goal is to actually get people to the polls to vote, much like sending $1 along with a survey in the mail… gets people to fill it out. You could worry about whether the opinions you get back are informed or not, but if you read studies on these tactics, you’ll start to see that once people engage in the activity, they subsequently engage in the thought processes you want them to work through. If they fill out a survey, most people will think about the questions and answers… They could easily just randomly fill out the survey and send it in, but that works against their basic nature: if they are getting something of value, they feel they must return that value in what they do. I think the same will happen with voting.

Of course, there will be people who just vote for whomever their friends or peers vote for… and is that such a bad thing. They gauge their lives and interests within this group of people — so why should voting be that much different?

Also, once someone is involved with voting, they will be much more likely to stay engaged with politics, at least for a short time before and after the elections.

I really like the idea - if for no other reason that it shows progressive thinking and a desire to bring more people into the political fold.

Posted by: tony at September 1, 2006 7:54 AM
Comment #178717

Desert Jeff, the idea does have merit. No Americans live in a vacuum. Whether or not they have researched the candidates and issues, they have formed some opinion about whether government is working for them, or not. And that is sufficient analysis to justify voting. According to our Constitution and the voting rights act, anyway.

I say a lottery for all who vote is a marvelous idea, especially if it is sunsetted for say, 5 years down the road. Afterall, the goal is to movtivate citizens to exercise a new behavior. Having done so repeatedly, most will continue to vote even after the lottery is sunsetted. Perhaps revive it every 20 years to motivate a new generation of eligible potential voters.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2006 8:45 AM
Comment #178729


I too live in Arizona.

This idea is as dumb as a tub of butter in the Phoenix sun.

It places a reward on that which responsible people do anyway, and we don’t need any more irresponsible voters.

There may be an initial spike in the voter rolls, but in the end the people that don’t win, will fall back into their old habits.

Posted by: Rocky at September 1, 2006 9:56 AM
Comment #178750
such a measure would encourage people to vote without researching the candidates or issues, just for a chance to win a million bucks.

True. But, isn’t that already the case? I suppose it could make it worse if they do what most Americans do, which is vote for the candidate that spends the most (i.e. 90% of elections are won by the candidate that spends the most, and 83% of all federal campaign donations ($200 or more) come from only a mere 0.1% (yes, that’s one tenth of 1 percent) of the U.S. population). Government is FOR SALE already. Will a lottery make it worse? Hmmmmm … Maybe. But, what the hell? Voters are already bribed with their own money. Since we are already on this path, why not experiment with this too?

The idea is amusing really. It’s exactly what you’d expect in this era. It’s really unnecessary. The motivation that voters need to vote is already on they way. It’s called pain and misery. It’s a good teacher. The consequences of decades of fiscal and moral bankruptcy will be our teacher, and it may not be too many years away, if you consider 77 million baby boomers, retiring at 2000 per day, a troubled Social Security system (alrady $12.8 trillion in debt), a troubled Medicare system (with hundreds of billions of unfunded liabilities for the next 12 months), the PBGC $450 billion in the hole, the National Debt of $8.5 trillion, non-stop printing presses at the Federal Reserve (M3 Money Supply grew by $721 billion in 2005), more borrowing, uncontrolled spending, and government growing and growing to nightmare proportions.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 1, 2006 11:52 AM
Comment #178778

Voting is not only a right but a responsibility. If you want to get the vote out how about punishing those that don’t vote? They’re not fulfilling their responsibilities.
I don’t believe that a lottery or punishment will make voters anymore informed. And a test will bring up accusations of discrimination.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 1, 2006 1:56 PM
Comment #178805

It is easy to understand why some people don’t vote.
They don’t feel like their choices are any good.
That’s what needs to change.
And, if they don’t have good choices, they should at least choose a non-incumbent. That is the ONLY way to make politicians accountable.
Those that are voting may be as harmful as those that don’t, since they lazily and mindlessly pull the party-lever (i.e. straigt ticket). That’s a huge part of the problem. It’s a result of politicians’ favorite detractor: petty partisan warfare. Politicians use that to brainwash voters to pull the party-lever, as if their party is really any different?

But, even if voters do the research , it seems like some politicians’ brains turn to jelly after they are elected ?

It does not matter who we vote for if they succumb to pressures, temptations, and the acceptance of the status quo. Newcomers to congress, that don’t conform to the status quo, will be punished by incumbents, and soon find themselves shunned, isolated, and perhaps lose their party support. Incumbents will not allow newcomers to pass badly-needed, common-sense, responsible reforms. Incumbents will not allow any reforms that may reduce their power and opportunities for self-gain.

Thus, studying, researching, and learning about candidates does not seem worthwhile. Even if it was worthwhile, it is difficult and time consuming for many voters to research and learn all that is required to make an educated and well informed vote. Negative campaigning and incumbents that fuel the petty, partisan warfare make it worse, and it distracts voters from more substantive issues.

And, then, some pandering politicians don’t always deliver what they promise. Is it no wonder many voters do not know what to do? Nothing we’re doing seems to be working. Hence, apathy, complacency, futility, and despair lead many voters to give up.

But giving up will not ever resolve anything either. All voters need to do is the one simple, safe, non-partisan, inexpensive, peaceful, and responsible thing they were supposed to be doing all along:

Don’t re-elect irresponsible incumbent politicians.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 1, 2006 3:10 PM
Comment #178809

A test to get into the voting lottery. Problem is that they had test for citizenship, taxes etc and they are all illegal.
Another problem is who is going to write these test, a republican, democrat, third party. Maybe ask a third country to do it, but then again they all have a vested interest in who win’s.

You to could be a million dollar winner, vote now, vote often. Disclaimer your chance of winning is based on the number of voters.

Posted by: KT at September 1, 2006 3:34 PM
Comment #178818

Ron, a Constitutionally guraranteed right, includes by definition, the choice to not exercise that right. That is why testing for exercise of rights are all struck down by the courts, and rightfully so.

I agree with underlying argument, that with freedom and choice comes responsibility (the ability to respond appropriately). But, mandating responsibility by law is the road to tyranny, because ultimately it leads to a very few deciding what “appropriate” is for everyone else. And that is a very fluid structure for power based on personal whim and foibles.

Posted by: David R. Remer at September 1, 2006 4:43 PM
Comment #178825

What I find most ironic about the voter lottery proposition is this: last year Arizonans voted for (in my personal opinion) ridiculous legislation that restricts the ease of our populace to vote. You must present two forms of federal ID, a DNA test, three references and your mom at the polls in order cast a ballot. Okay, that’s a SLIGHT exaggeration. However, it’s another way to disenfranchise many of our legal citizens and was passed due to stoking the flames of hate and fear, coupled with a great deal of ignorance.

So now that roadblocks and barriers are thrown up in the path to the voting booth, along comes this crazy idea to get people to the polls. Hmmm, the chance to win $1M? Sure, why wouldn’t this encourage voter fraud? I swear, some people have been standing in the desert sun for a little too long.

Posted by: Arizona Amy at September 1, 2006 5:20 PM
Comment #178836

Illegal aliens voting in our elections is a serious (and growing) problem, too.

With major elections as close as some we have seen, illegal aliens voting in our elections is no laughing matter. Also, the lack of any way to confirm our vote is another glaring defect (especially with computerization).

Unfortunately, Republicans want cheap labor (an under-paid, under-class to exploit), and Democrats want votes, and neither are willing to enforce the laws.

Politicians are ignoring the laws!

They don’t care that illegal aliens are costing U.S. citizens over $70 billion (net losses), burdening our hospitals, healthcare, schools, welfare, law enforcement, Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, insurance, prisons, displacing 2.3 million American workers, and voting in our elections.

Our laws are not being enforce on such a massive scale. What point is there to obeying any laws? What message does that send to others comtemplating trespassing our borders? Even if apprehended, many are released.

It’s a farce. U.S. tax payers are being screwed and their politicians are doing it to them. But, what’s worse, U.S. tax payers are bending over and begging for it, by continually re-electing the very same irresponsible, bought-and-paid-for incumbent politicians that keep stickin’ it to them year after year.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 1, 2006 6:26 PM
Comment #178886

I’m not for punishing those that don’t vote either. It was just something I thought I’d throw into the mix and see what popped up.
However it would insure more folks voted. But like you said, it’ll lead to tyranny.

Arizona Amy
How is asking someone to prove who they are disenfranchising voters? The only one that won’t go to the polls are illegals. And they aint supposed to even be here much less voting in our elections.

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 1, 2006 11:59 PM
Comment #178893

If illegals weren’t needed here they wouldn’t be here. I am certain that most if not all americans would be unwilling to work in the intense heat, risking the chance of getting cancer, in the fields.
Furthermore if American citizens were to do the jobs that illegal immigrants do, the cost of those services would rise tremendously, which is something that would hurt the majority of lower class Americans.

please excuse the many spelling and grammer errors present, also I do realize my argument is EXTREMELY weak but i haven’t had the time to do proper research. =)

Posted by: Oscar A. at September 2, 2006 2:16 AM
Comment #178931
Oscar A. wrote:D.A.N, If illegals weren’t needed here they wouldn’t be here. I am certain that most if not all americans would be unwilling to work in the intense heat, risking the chance of getting cancer, in the fields. Furthermore if American citizens were to do the jobs that illegal immigrants do, the cost of those services would rise tremendously, which is something that would hurt the majority of lower class Americans.

Respectfully, I have to disagree. The math doesn’t work out the way you say:

  • (1) An estimated 2.3 million Americans workers are unfairly displaced by illegal aliens, because illegal aliens have several unfair advantages, one of which is that half of illegal aliens don’t pay taxes. That is a huge disadvantage to the American worker in many ways.

  • (2) Illegal aliens are NOT needed. It is a total myth that the U.S. would collapse without illegal aliens, because illegal aliens are costing an estimated $70 billion per year in net loss to U.S. citizens. That is after deducting all taxes and labor value. That does not even include the untold cost of increased crime rates, disease, and 2.3 million displaced American workers. Also, you can pick a lot of lettuce for $70 billion per year.

  • It is a shallow assessment to conclude illegal aliens would not be here if they are not needed. You have to see who profits most, which is the greedy employers that are exploiting an under-paid under-class.

  • Illegal aliens are putting a massive burden on our healthcare, hospitial, law enforcement, welfare, Medicaid, Medicare, Social Security, unemployment, education, insurance, prison, and voting systems.

Oscar A. wrote: Furthermore if American citizens were to do the jobs that illegal immigrants do, the cost of those services would rise tremendously, which is something that would hurt the majority of lower class Americans.
Ironically, illegal immigration hurts the lower-income-class Americans more than anyone else, by displacing 2.3 million American workers, which drives up taxes, unemployment claims, etc. (because, half of illegal aliens don’t pay taxes and since they are off the books, they don’t always make market-rate wages).

… more …

Posted by: d.a.n at September 2, 2006 2:01 PM
Comment #178947


I appreciate you being respectful and nice argument. It didn’t change my opinion but I can see why some people would have the same views as you.

Posted by: Oscar A. at September 2, 2006 6:14 PM
Comment #178953

Oscar A.,

You’re welcome. My goal is not to demonize illegal aliens that merely come here to find work. But, I will not shrink or minimize the gravity of the facts, because my fellow U.S. citizens come first, and they are being unfairly burdened. U.S. citizens want illegal trespass of our borders stopped, but government ignores that people. Irresponsible incumbent politicians (hopefully) may suffer the just consequences for their actions in the coming elections.

The real problem is:

  • government ignores the law.

  • Republicans want cheap labor (an under-paid under-class), and Democrats want votes, and both refuse to enforce the law, and have refused to enforce the law for decades. In fact, they have undermined and endangered our Border Patrol. Bush has the unmitigated gall to call those helping to protect our borders vigilantes.

  • U.S. citizens are being force to pay the net losses.

  • and incumbent politicians are either sinisterly and/or carelessly pitting U.S. citizens and illegal aliens against each other.

There is a workable solution to the problem, but no problems can be resolved with the corrupt, FOR-SALE government we have these days, where most (if not all) politicians are bought-and-paid-for, and controlled by a mere few with vast wealth and power (where 83% of all federal campaign contributions ($200 or more) come from a mere 0.1% of the U.S. population.

Government is FOR SALE
Government is corrupt, and growing more corrupt and larger every day, to nightmare proportions.
Slumbering voters will learn, eventually. Their lesson is on the way. Pain and misery is a good teacher. The voters $70 billion per year of net losses will double (or more). More hospitals will close. Education will continue to decline. Healthcare will continue to decline. Increased crime rates will continue to grow worse. Currently, and estimated 32% to 42% of all illegal aliens receive welfare. Free medical care for illegal aliens has degraded and closed some of America’s finest emergency medical facilities, and caused hospital bankruptcies: 84 California hospitals are closing their doors (2005) “Anchor babies” born to illegal aliens instantly qualify as citizens for welfare benefits and have caused enormous rises in Medicaid costs and stipends under Supplemental Security Income and Disability Income.

All of this is not merely anectdotal. American cities are under assualt. Four major Los Angeles hospitals were bankrupted in 2004. In Los Angeles (in 2004), 95 % of all outstanding warrants for homicide (which total 1,200 to 1,500) are for illegal aliens! And 67% of all fugitive felony warrants (17,000) are for illegal aliens. 29% of all prisoners in state, federal prisons are 29% illegal aliens (Source: Report GAO-05-337). In a study group of 55,322 incarcerated illegal aliens, each illegal alien has been arrested an average of 13 times (Source: Report GAO-05-646) (NOTE: the 1st illegal trespass of our national borders is only a misdemeanor).

But, if slumbering American voters continue to re-elect the very same irresponsible incumbent politicians that create and/or ignore these problems, then American voters will continue to get what they deserve. They have been sold out, and have sold themselves out, and are merely witnessing the transfer of their assets, and they only have themselves to thank for it.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 2, 2006 8:05 PM
Comment #178982

Why do we want more people to vote? This is a serious question.

It’s obvious to me that the people who don’t vote either don’t know or don’t care. The ones who don’t care I don’t really want to vote and the ones who don’t know will start voting when they learn.

I think we should have a set of uniform national standards to vote and if voting means enough to you then you will meet those standards.

Posted by: tomd at September 3, 2006 7:23 AM
Comment #179070

OK, you want standards to vote. What kind of standards would you set? And what would you do to make sure these standards will be fair across the board?

Posted by: Ron Brown at September 3, 2006 3:28 PM
Comment #179126

Well, I’d make one of those standards U.S. citizenship.

However, our politicians have other designs.

But, we keep re-electing them, don’t we?

Hmmmmm … maybe we’ll catch on when our threshold of pain and misery finally becomes bad enough? In the mean time, watch the transfer of assets continue. Our own politicians that we keep re-electing keep selling us out.

Posted by: d.a.n at September 4, 2006 12:39 AM
Comment #179281

Interesting question - do we want more people to vote. I have a feeling Democrats would say Yes! and Republicans would say No! Ohio is an interesting case to look at…

Talk of voter education and responsibility is a joke - democracy by definition means you are going to have half the voters posess less than average intelligence. So the sccret to political success (in American at least) is not to have a great platform or make good decisions but to appeal to that section of society (with maybe non-issues) in order to keep yourself in power.

The two major parties have their defined strategies to exploit this:

Democrats - promise the poor a government that provides socialistic-type support and will tax the middle class and rich to do it. Support every program under the sun and preach paying for them with taxes. The goverment will take care of everything for you as long as you pay for it…

Republicans - use religion and fear to get the the masses to vote for a government that will limit their social freedom and give every possible advantage to the rich. They’ve caught on that instead of cutting spending (which is unpopular with the masses) you just run up the national credit card and throw some tax cut crumbs everyones way.

Both parties use money and TV to affect how the masses vote - there is a reliable correlation between money spent on a campaign and votes cast.

Why do people get fed up with voting - see the above equations…

Posted by: Redlenses at September 5, 2006 8:32 PM
Comment #179282

What would a lottery bring?

More campaign spending and dumber “wedge” issues to market your side to the masses.

The “very” important issues of today like fear of gay people and flag burners will be replaced by even crazier fears if more people are involved - you’ll need really “catchy, gossipy, eye catching” non-issues to sell your party.

Posted by: Redlenses at September 5, 2006 8:37 PM
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