Need $1,000? Get Paid to Vote

August 18, 2014

I have never missed voting in a primary or a general election, no matter what was going on in my life. I remember my friend breaking her leg a day before the general election. The next day, Election Day, she signed herself out of the hospital and, wearing a plaster cast that went up her whole leg, she stood in line, unsteadily on crutches for several hours, just for the privilege of voting for the next president.

In those days, there was no Early Voting where you could go to a neighborhood library or some other neighborhood designated place and vote, at your convenience, during that week. There were no weekend voting days, either. There weren’t even handicapped spaces or ramps or places for handicapped people to sit. On Election Day, we had to go down to the courthouse to vote and that meant standing in line for endless hours.

We used to hear that voting was a privilege, not a right, and we took that to heart. I guess that’s why I take offense at the city officials of Los Angeles considering a measure to pay registered voters $1,000 to vote. Their claim is that they have had very bad voter turnout in local elections and that only 23% of registered voters cast a ballot in the last mayoral election.

“Now the Los Angeles Ethics Commission is recommending the city council looks at implementing cash prizes to get people to show up at the voting booths.”

The ETHICS commission?? Isn’t that an oxymoron?? Paying people to vote is now ethical?? In my day, it was called buying votes and if you were caught there was a prison sentence. Now their Ethics Commission is going to vote on turning these cash prizes into a lottery, awarding only 100 people these prizes.

I have a suggestion. Probably a radical suggestion that almost amounts to heresy. What if, instead of buying votes to get people to vote on Election Day, they figure out why people are staying away?

I have a sneaky suspicion that the reason people are not bothering to vote is because we have seen how power corrupts, and we have seen that all our politicians are corrupt. They may start out with a scintilla of honesty but shortly after they are voted into office, they become as corrupt as the politicians that were voted out of office.

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