Patterico's Pontifications

8/18/2014

Los Angeles: Let’s Pay Voters To Vote Suggests The Los Angeles Ethics Commission

Filed under: General — Dana @ 6:59 pm

[guest post by Dana]

Concerned about low voter turnout in local elections, the city’s Ethics Commission has come up with a winning idea: pay people to vote!

On a 3-0 vote, the panel said it wanted City Council President Herb Wesson’s Rules, Elections and Intergovernmental Relations Committee to seriously consider the use of financial incentives and a random drawing during its elections, possibly as soon as next year.

Depending on the source of city funds, the idea could require a ballot measure. Commissioners said they were unsure how big the prizes should be or how many should be offered, saying a pilot program should first be used to test the concept.

“Maybe it’s $25,000 maybe it’s $50,000,” said Commission President Nathan Hochman. “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.”

The legalities of such a decision were also addressed:

Ethics Commissioner Jessica Levinson, an attorney and professor at Loyola Law School, said the city should not have to wait until the end of the decade to take steps to improve voter participation. “We have turnout in citywide elections in the high teens and low 20s and I think that’s pretty dismal,” she said.

Federal law prohibits people from accepting payment in exchange for voting. But Levinson, who voted to pursue the lottery concept, contends that statute would not apply in an election where there are no federal positions on the ballot. California law prohibits people from using money or gifts to ensure that voters cast ballots for any particular person or measure. Money also cannot be used to keep people from voting in a particular election, according to information provided by the secretary of state’s office.

Apathetic non-voters clearly do not care enough about the candidates and legislative issues to use their privilege to vote. If the possibility of winning money draws these voters in, does anyone believe they would be casting a learned and informed vote as opposed to just filling in a ballot to win some prize money? Hm, more low-informed voters… who benefits from that?

Don’t worry, an Ethics Commission member reassures:

“When you do have these types of systems people do end up educating themselves before they go to the polls.”

–Dana

48 Responses to “Los Angeles: Let’s Pay Voters To Vote Suggests The Los Angeles Ethics Commission”

  1. The next improvement in this idea will be to increase the payout depending upon the result of the election. For example, if HteWon wins, then the payout is $2,000,000. Otherwise it is $7.50.

    bobathome (4c87a1)

  2. Just when you think…ah forget it!

    Gazzer (1b20d4)

  3. The Governor ought to veto funding for the Ethics Commission, they’re obviously liquored up.

    ropelight (4da36f)

  4. Not that bad an idea, if the money could only be used to make political contributions. It could also be a test for voter fraud.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  5. Very low turnout may mean that the people voting are people who have some personal interest in the outcome.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  6. I’ve never understood those who lament at how few people vote, and want to encourage nonvoters to vote. Why is it a problem if only the minority who care about the result vote, and the majority who don’t care stay home and accept that whomever the minority chooses will win? I think too many ignorant people already vote, and we should reintroduce some sort of test to discourage them, not go out of our way to increase their numbers? Tests may have been abused in the past, but that was no reason to have got rid of them; drivers’ licenses have been abused too, but nobody proposed getting rid of them, they just fixed the abuses.

    And a financial incentive?! If you make voting worthwhile, people will find ways to vote twice or 37 times.

    Milhouse (9d71c3)

  7. “Concerned about low voter turnout in local elections, the city’s Ethics Commission has come up with a winning idea: pay people to vote!”

    Dana – The city wants to double up on what Democrats already pay voters? Don’t they talk to each other?

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  8. I am absolutely positive that an ethics commission elected by paid voters is an excellent idea. What could possibly go wrong?

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  9. One problem said to exist with regard to student elections in colleges is low turnout.

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/schools-scandal_800437.html

    http://www.weeklystandard.com/articles/schools-scandal_800437.html?page=3

    Low turnout means there’s little accountability. The mandatory fees funding student government are paid mostly by oblivious stakeholders, such as parents and/or taxpayer-subsidized financial aid. And with student governments funding scores, even hundreds, of student groups to the tune of millions of dollars, it stands to reason that of the small percentage of students who do participate, most have some sort of direct or indirect financial interest in the outcome. Student government isn’t representative so much as it is captured and controlled by special interests.

    The combination of low turnout and special interest politics also means that student governments can be easy marks for outside groups seeking funds..

    It all depends on what it is that increases turnout.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  10. I absolutely believe that voting should be coerced. Nothing says democracy like voting at gunpoint.

    And, Sammy, God bless you, but you and the Weekly Standard seem to think that college student government matters as if it is some sort of real democracy independent of administration.

    Ag80 (eb6ffa)

  11. it’s Chinatown Jake.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  12. voting in Lost Angels, or anywhere in #Failifornia, is a waste of time because the scum promise everything, deliver nothing, and, once in office, are only worried about how far into the trough their noses can go and making sure they take care of the union and other interests that got them there in the first place.

    we’re a Third World country that hasn’t destroyed all it’s infrastructure yet…

    give us time. hell, that idiot mayor of ours wants to host an Olympics: that will the the day we fully achieve banana republic status.

    i gotta get to Texas.

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  13. Playing catch-up: R.I.P. Don Pardo, longtime announcer for Saturday Night Live

    Icy (e6ea2c)

  14. ” … “When you do have these types of systems people do end up educating themselves before they go to the polls.” … ”

    = = = = = = =

    Oh, really? Says WHO? Based on what?

    [ IMHO, this is just another Lib-Prog babble of words expressing a fond wish, a vainglorious hope, that the Universe will somehow contort Reality and bring it into accordance with The Approved GroupThink du jour... ]

    A_Nonny_Mouse (76710b)

  15. I’m beginning to think I understand how that Grand Jury decided to indite Gov. Perry.

    htom (412a17)

  16. 1) They do not really want a lot of people to vote. Low turnout benefits those that can organize turnout, such as public employee unions.

    2) If they did want a lot of people to vote they would not be trying — after decades of failure — to get people to the polls in February of odd numbered years. Move the elections to the June/November even-numbered year cycle and you’ll get fine participation.

    3) but see 1)

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  17. Maybe Obama will decide to tax people for not voting. They can do that, says Chief Justice Roberts.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  18. Completely off-topic:

    Congratulations to xkcd.com for winning the 2014 Hugo Award for best graphic SF story. Usually given to a graphic novel, this time it is given to the magnificent “Time” comic (click on image). Because.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  19. “Maybe it’s $25,000 maybe it’s $50,000,”

    Well, it had better be the $50K, my vote doesn’t come cheap, but I do give a volume discount.

    askeptic (efcf22)

  20. I bet the people most supportive of the idea of paying citizens to vote would pull back, grimace and shudder if it were determined that a larger turnout on any election day will automatically favor conservatives/Republicans or right-leaning ballot initiatives. I can imagine such a conclusion thereby encouraging commission panelists and others currently falling for their proposal to, if anything, recommend that people be paid to not vote, to stay far, far away from the polling booth.

    Mark (14a4db)

  21. Uncle Joe got it right: It doesn’t matter how many people vote, it only matters who counts the votes.

    ropelight (b5fb75)

  22. Uncle Mao may wish to differ with Uncle Joe…

    redc1c4 (abd49e)

  23. Congratulations to xkcd.com for winning the 2014 Hugo Award for best graphic SF story. Usually given to a graphic novel, this time it is given to the magnificent “Time” comic (click on image). Because.

    Oh wow. I didn’t even look at that category, because I never vote in it. If I’d seen that xkcd was nominated I’d’ve been tempted to vote for it despite being unfamliar with the other nominees. (Naughty Milhouse; I know it’s not the done thing to vote when one has not read at least four of the nominees. But I was not going to read all 14 volumes of the Wheel of Time, and I didn’t get hold of a copy of Neptune’s Brood until last week. It’s damn good, too, but I didn’t know that when I cast my ballot.)

    Milhouse (9d71c3)

  24. Australia has compulsory registration and voting, and therefore turnout is always around 90%. It has not led to more informed voting. In fact it’s produced what is known as the “donkey vote”; about 4% of voters will vote straight down the ballot, numbering all the boxes in strict order from top to bottom. Candidates used to be listed alphabetically, and this gave a clear advantage to those with names higher up in the alphabet. When the Australian Democrats started, in 1977, they took advantage of this by deliberately nominating people with names near the top of the alphabet; as a result, in 1984 the law was changed to have the order of candidates determined by lottery. In Tasmania they go one better and print batches of ballots with different orders. But my point is that if voting were not compulsory these “donkeys” would just stay home and the problem wouldn’t exist. Artificially high turnout doesn’t make things any better. Stupid voters are stupid, and more of them means more stupid results.

    Milhouse (9d71c3)

  25. We are approaching an 80s style soviet society. we used to mock them – “step up comrade, vote for the only candidate and get your bread and vodka coupons.” It’s amazing to me how far we’ve fallen in a generation.

    bob (ad3bc5)

  26. You mean the countless handouts that the Democrat Party promises to voters isn’t enough money to get people out to vote?

    Joe (33fd9a)

  27. Just what we need: even more influence on the tiller of public policy by people who wouldn’t have voted at all but for what amounts to a free lottery ticket for voting. I’m sure those votes will be driven by a wealth of knowledge about the options on the ballot and their long-term impact on society.

    We already were getting more and more of this due to (Democrat) policies making it all but impossible NOT to be registered to vote (motor voter, registration forms in hospital delivery rooms, etc.) and Election Day hectoring/ free vans to polling places, etc.

    Idiocracy inches nearer to realization.

    Mitch (bfd5cd)

  28. http://www.amazon.com/80s-Look-Tumultuous-Decade-1980-1989/dp/0894801198/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1408455215&sr=1-2&keywords=eighties+a+look+back

    This book had a chapter on electoral politics. The government offered people a free toaster if they’d come vote. A total of 13% of the electorate appeared for their toasters. What was Tony Hendra’s humor in 1979 is the reality today. Progress.

    If you want people to take an interest in electoral politics, maybe their should be a clear division of labor between governments, an end to central authorities inveigling or extorting compliance out of particular governments through judicial injunction or special-purpose grants, local governments of sufficient dimensions to tackle problems without the assistance of superordinate authorities, an end to officious interference in the policy-making process by our repulsive judiciary, a streamlined policy making process (foregoing the executive veto and unqualified bicameralism), fewer elected executives (must we elect the county clerk or secretary of state?), and electoral systems which promote competition (higher age bars to run for public office, mandatory retirement, rotation in office (say, no more than eight years in twelve in a given office), and the use of innovations like ‘single-transferrable-vote’ in multi member districts and the ‘alternate vote’ in single-member districts).

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  29. I bet the people most supportive of the idea of paying citizens to vote would pull back, grimace and shudder if it were determined that a larger turnout on any election day will automatically favor conservatives/Republicans or right-leaning ballot initiatives.

    Yeah, but they can always get some judicial ass**** to declare starboard policy ‘unconstitutional’.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  30. Why not just make Election Day a national holiday? Bet the barn that that would increase informed voter turnout

    Leviticus (f9a067)

  31. Aren’t we one of the few countries that don’t have a holiday on election day? It was Sunday in Denmark, and Saturday in Australia.

    carlitos (c24ed5)

  32. We could move election day to Saturday. If I am not mistaken, Tuesday was market day in the mid-19th century. The rhythms of the week are rather different now. We might also fix three days a year for elections, say, having general elections around the autumnal equinox, primary elections the 2d week of July, and a date around the vernal equinox for referenda, court system offices (judges, attorneys-general, district attorneys &c), and comptrollers.

    Art Deco (ee8de5)

  33. Great way to tamp down voter turnout, a day off, or better yet an early November 3-day holiday. Whoopie! Let’s party, pass the mulled wine. Want some punkin’ pie with your hot buttered rum?

    ropelight (b5fb75)

  34. the “donkey vote”; about 4% of voters will vote straight down the ballot, numbering all the boxes in strict order from top to bottom.

    I suspect that this is a protest against mandatory voting. It really can screw up a preferential ballot system.

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  35. By the way, how would you tell who voted? Can’t use IDs, right?

    Kevin M (b357ee)

  36. Kevin M (b357ee) — 8/19/2014 @ 8:37 am

    By the way, how would you tell who voted? Can’t use IDs, right?

    Bank account numbers.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  37. The same way you tell if someone used somebody else’s credit card. I would actually have money both withdrawn and deposited.

    Family members could impersonate others, thogh, if this were implemented.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  38. So could someone, like say the Koch brothers, legally fund a lottery that only pays off to a registered voter, or one who can demonstrate that they voted, if say a majority GOP ballot wins? Or do so for specific ballot proposals?

    WTP (d553bf)

  39. Maybe if you let $5 be withdrawn, you get $20 back. Or it maybe it goes into a special account for campaign contributions to be determined later.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  40. 39. WTP (d553bf) — 8/19/2014 @ 8:42 am

    So could someone, like say the Koch brothers, legally fund a lottery that only pays off to a registered voter, or one who can demonstrate that they voted, if say a majority GOP ballot wins? Or do so for specific ballot proposals?

    That’s a tricky one. That amounts to something very cclose to betting on election outcomes. For everyone who voted to get money regaqrdless of outcome is a different thing, although that also could affect resultss

    You might do that just in some precincts.

    Sammy Finkelman (3ba0b7)

  41. I thought they already paid them…with union jobs.

    Patricia (5fc097)

  42. Dana – If Los Angeles needs help on how to figure out how to effectively pay voters they should spend some time in Chicago. They’re doin it rong.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

  43. Art Deco (ee8de5) — 8/19/2014 @ 7:03 am

    How dare you suggest a return to a Federal Republic.
    Why, that’s Un-American!

    askeptic (efcf22)

  44. Leviticus (f9a067) — 8/19/2014 @ 7:16 am

    A Federal Holiday that follows immediately after TAX DAY!

    askeptic (efcf22)

  45. If I vote multiple times do I get multiple chances to win?

    I can enter this lottery even if I’m not a resident of Los Angeles, right?

    malclave (4f3ec1)

  46. Federal law prohibits people from accepting payment in exchange for voting. But Levinson, who voted to pursue the lottery concept, contends that statute would not apply in an election where there are no federal positions on the ballot. California law prohibits people from using money or gifts to ensure that voters cast ballots for any particular person or measure.

    How are these laws Constitutional?

    Money = Speech. These laws are unconstitutional infringements on our 1st amendment rights.

    libarbarian (fbdba3)

  47. Maybe the government should pay us to exercise other underutilized rights our ancestors fought for – such as attending church or owning a gun.

    Amphipolis (d3e04f)


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