Some Los Angeles city officials are considering turning voter ballots into what would essentially be lottery tickets to increase voter turnout.
Los Angeles has had particularly bad voter turnout recently in local elections. Only 23 percent 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 city council still has yet to approve the idea but the informal plan includes awarding $1,000 to about 100 voters.
Critics have already begun saying all this plan will lead to is an increase of uninformed voters who will randomly fill in ballots just to be eligible for the prize.
But a spokesperson for the Ethics Commission says that problem will fix itself:
"When you do have these types of systems people do end up educating themselves before they go to the polls."
However, a columnist for Los Angeles Times is not convinced. He writes that anyone who cares enough to educate themselves on the issues is already voting and this plan will only attract people "who need the prize money."
Right now the plan suggests getting the money for the prizes from the city's matching funds program, which gives funds to candidates who agree to certain spending restrictions.
But KCAL reports that voter approval is required to use those funds for prizes — that would "essentially be voters voting to reward themselves for voting."
And the Los Angeles Times points out it is illegal to award prizes to voters in federal elections, so this strategy could only be used when no federal measure is on the ballot.
It is illegal in California to use money to keep people from voting or getting them to vote a certain way but this plan should fall within the law so long as it does not attempt to sway voters.
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