Dr. Mark Osterloh is chairman of Arizonans for Voter Rewards
and lead author of Arizona’s 1998 Clean Elections Campaign
Finance Reform Initiative ( www.voterrewards.org).
Should girls and boys be taught
in separate classrooms?
DESPITE ALL OF OUR best efforts, voter turnout has been very low: In
the United States only about half of the eligible citizens register to vote,
and often only half of them actually vote. There are too many problems
in this country to allow this to continue. We need every citizen to get
involved in solving our state and national problems by getting out to
vote. We think the lottery will accomplish this because it motivates people with rewards.
Our opponents say we are bribing people to vote. No, bribery is when money is given to
politicians to buy influence. We are not encouraging people to vote a certain way—they can
vote any way they want. We are using a capitalist incentive to reward citizens for exercising their
patriotic duty, and there is nothing wrong with this. Why did capitalism win out over communism? Because capitalism has rewards built into the system and communism doesn’t. We
reward high school students who study diligently with college scholarships. We reward employees who work hard with commissions, pay raises, bonuses and promotions. Let’s do the same
thing with voting.
Another complaint about a lottery is that it will bring uninformed people to the polls who
don’t care about their government. But this is the same old discredited argument used in the
past when trying to deny the voting franchise to women, Native Americans and African-Americans. Democracy is meant to be government by all the people without such qualifiers as
race, gender, creed, literacy, IQ, party affiliation or political correctness. We want every eligible
citizen to vote—period!
Currently, many millions of dollars are wasted on minimally effective get-out-the-vote
(GOTV) campaigns. With a chance to win $1 million, which comes from the unclaimed prize
fund of the Arizona Lottery, we can get everyone to the polls and the saved GOTV money can
be used to educate voters. We will have everyone voting and educated about the issues and
candidates, everyone informed about our health-care problems, economic problems, education
problems. A true win-win result. C
Opinions expressed are those of the
individuals or organizations represented
and are presented to foster discussion.
Costco and The Costco Connection
take no position on any Debate topic.
from experts in the field:
Gabriel “Jack” Chin is the Chester H. Smith Professor of Law
at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law, and
director of the Law, Criminal Justice and Security Program
SUPPORTERS OF A MILLION-DOLLAR lottery for voters, on the ballot
in Arizona, advance the wrong solution to a real problem. True, too many
eligible citizens fail to register and too many registered voters fail to cast a
ballot; therefore, general elections are often decided by less than 60 per-
cent of those entitled to vote. Primary elections are worse. However, turning ballots into raffle
tickets would be a mistake.
Voters vote because they believe it is their civic duty, because they want to have a hand
in creating a better society or to express praise or scorn. It is wrong to suggest that Arizonans
should vote not because elections are important, not because voting is the responsibility
of citizens in a democracy, but for the remote chance of getting rich. The proposal inevitably
implies that voting is like buying a Powerball ticket but better, because it is free, easier and
offers a better chance at the jackpot. Additionally, a frivolous atmosphere might actually
discourage some conscientious voters.
A lottery would also reduce the quality of elections. The prize is awarded for voting, not for
considering the candidates and issues. Blank ballots, randomly filled-out ballots and thoughtful
ballots all have an equal chance of winning. The initiative targets those otherwise disinterested
in voting who can be persuaded to do so in exchange for a lottery ticket worth less than a buck.
Time is money, and people voting only to get the lottery ticket are unlikely to dedicate the hours
necessary to come up with informed positions about issues, candidates and ballot questions.
Although a lottery for voters is misguided, states can and should increase participation by
offering voting by mail to all, making election day the last of a several-day balloting period,
holding elections on Saturdays or making election day a holiday, and providing for election-day
registration. Some states have increased the eligible voting pool by restoring the voting rights of
persons convicted of crimes who have paid their debt to society and been released from prison.
Door prizes are for parties, not polling booths. C