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JUST VOTE-----NOT!
Thursday, May 25, 2006
For as long as I can remember, people have bemoaned the poor turnout we have for elections in the United States. Sometimes, for local primary elections, the turnout is barely in the double digits. Since 1948, even in Presidential elections, turnout has never reached the 2/3rd mark – ranging over the years from 52 to 64 percent. In 2004, it was on the high side – 60 percent. Back in my young, more naïve years, I joined the cacophony of voices urging people to do their civic duty and vote. Not any more. For me, it’s simple math. The fewer people vote, the more my vote counts. If I could elect members of congress and the statehouse all by myself, I would, so why would I want to dilute my vote? I don’t care whether my member of congress represents a majority of the people in my district. I care whether he agrees with me. In Arizona, a political activist who has run unsuccessfully for Governor and for the state legislature, is spearheading a drive to turn Arizona elections in to a lottery, in which one voter would win $1 million. Dr. Mark Osterloh, a Tuscon ophthalmologist, and other supporters have gathered 185,903 signatures of registered voters, well over the 122,612 required for a ballot initiative. Under the plan, the $1 million awarded to one randomly selected voter after each election would come from unclaimed Arizona Lottery prize money. A voter could get one entry in the drawing for voting in the primary and another for the general election. His purpose is to increase voter turnout. If people stand the chance to win $1 million by voting, they are more likely to vote. He’s right of course. There are plenty of people who won’t dislodge their backsides from the couch to cast a ballot, but would gladly do so for even a slim chance of winning $1 million. Who can blame them? What has more value to you – that Governor Sanford wins re-election or that you win $1 million? That’s pretty much a no-brainer. If people don’t want to vote for the right reason – that they care who wins – I don’t want them voting at all. Actually, I’d prefer they just let me pick the winners, but I at least recognize their right to offset my superior choice if they feel they really must. But do we have to tolerate those who don’t care about the outcome – and only want to win the money? They are either going to be voting “blind” or voting for someone who promises to give them things – things that you and I pay for. I can hear the commercials now. “Vote for me. Even if you don’t win $1 Million, I’ll vote to give you more of your neighbor’s money.” They won’t be quite that transparent of course, but that will be the winning message for those who vote just to win the lottery. High voter turnout is highly overrated. In the absence of gimmicks and “get out the vote” drives, we always have exactly the right amount of voter turnout – that is, the people who care vote. Those who don’t care stay home. That’s the way it should be. Whether you stay home or vote on Election Day, you are doing exactly what you should be doing. Don’t let anyone shame you or trick you into doing otherwise, and if you do care who wins elections, vote “no” on turning elections into lotteries.
posted by Jack Mercer @ 5/25/2006 10:37:00 AM  
7 Comments:
  • At 5/26/2006 08:16:00 AM, Blogger Smorgasbord said…

    You've got a good point, Jack. I have been known to advocate "getting out the vote" but, honestly, it's not that I want people to simply show up at the poles as much as I want them to educate themselves and vote intelligently (I believe this is what most get-out-the-voters want). Thinking about it realistically though, that's probably never going to happen for more than 25-30% of any given district. People simply don't want to "work" at anything they don't have to.

    Of course, just as there are groups of people who never vote, there are groups of people who vote regularly for the wrong reasons - such as fear, or the candidate's image. I would lump everyone who voted for Bush in 2004 into this category! :-)

     
  • At 5/26/2006 12:20:00 PM, Blogger Jack Mercer said…

    Hi Smorg!

    Good to hear from you!

    I would say you are right on the last statement-- but maybe add "limited alternatives", "loyalty" and "partisan" to the mix also.

    Have a good weekend!

    -Jack

     
  • At 5/27/2006 11:16:00 AM, Blogger chickenhawk said…

    Yes, I used to think, "now if everyone voted we would be so much better off as a country." Now I have to ask "why would that make us better?" and there is no answer. If the people do not vote, thats none of my business, they have the right NOT to vote.

    Smorgs point is good too- if you dont get out and vote, at least get educated about whats going on. Then, I would imagine those who are educated on the current events/issues vote and vote wisely.
    I mean, this is what happened to me- I wasnt much of a voter a couple years back and I started following what was going on in the world, now I always look forward to being able to vote with the masses.

     
  • At 5/29/2006 10:28:00 AM, Blogger Tim Albright said…

    NOW posted at
    vote2win.blogspot.com
    www.sinceslicedbread.com/idea/2101
    and www.sourcecode.freespeech.org/submission:


    Vote2Win Campaign may turbocharge voter registration & paper trails

    See the Vote2Win Campaign info below on a proposal which could be implemented on a nationwide scale that would let citizens register for a similar contest on the honor system once they register to vote and once they vote. It could also promote audit trails for all electronic voting and WOULD NOT REQIRE A NEW LAW or A REFERENDUM.

    http://msnbc.msn.com/id/12938379/ - 5/23/06

    PHOENIX - An Arizona political activist is placing his bets that a proposal to pay one lucky voter $1 million will drive people to the polls.
    Dr. Mark Osterloh, a Tuscon ophthalmologist who has run unsuccessfully for governor and the legislature, filed paperwork Monday to put the idea before state voters on the 2006 ballot.
    "Who do you know that doesn't want to be a millionaire? What's the worst thing that could happen? Everybody who's eligible to vote could be voting," he said.

    >Would you, your company, organization, or group like to be a founding sponsor for a get-out-the-vote campaign that could be the biggest step Americans have taken towards true democracy in decades?
    >And synchronize the efforts of Vote or Die and other groups and at the same time put constant pressure on all states to provide paper trails for all votes.
    >I am waiting to hear back from Rainbow-Push, Air America Radio, and Badboy Productions and their Vote or die division and others. I truly believe that this could be the answer to all of our problems, both political and scientific. I do believe that the domain "Vote2Win.org is still available. Can you help me get the word out?
    >I would like to see this type of Press Release ASAP as we move to get more citizens to register and vote and to provide paper trails for all votes cast next year.
    >Citizen Change, a non-profit, non-partisan organization started in July, 2004, by entertainment mogul Sean “P. Diddy” Combs in order to encourage young people to participate in the 2004 presidential election process, launched its new and improved model for 2005. The Vote or Die campaign successfully helped register millions of new voters. Being the latest recipient of an “Extreme Makeover,” it will morph into a turbo-charged phase two entitled: “Vote2Win.” This could be the sequel with no equal. The first of several new public service announcements (PSA) will show Vote or die shirts and clothing being removed to reveal tattoos and/or undershirts displaying the new Vote2Win logo. (Combs and/or others) stated that with help of MTV, Air America Radio, the Nation Magazine, Rainbow-Push, and yes even AARP and the Fox Network, this movement could be one small step for Americans and one giant leap for America. This could be the biggest step this nation has taken toward universal true democracy since 1976. The change from a somewhat negative self-defeating logo to a more positive proactive approach will help to emphasize the fact that “all” Americans will win if we all register and vote. We are not just proud to be an American, we are proud to “act” like an American.
    >The goal of Vote2win is to get corporations, organizations, and celebrities to donate prizes to be given away after the 2005 general election. The items could have limited costs to the donors but could greatly improve their public image. Who would not want to participate in a campaign to get all citizens to vote? What voter would not want to win dinner with Steve Martin, or an autographed book from Steven King, a cameo appearance on the Daily Show or perhaps on the West Wing or SNL, or how about playing a criminal or a victim on CSI? Citizens who vote in the next election would use the control number from their election machine receipt to register by mail or on a Web site after they vote and be entered in a fun, inspiring Vote2Win sweepstakes. Besides encouraging all Americans to register and vote, the campaign would put ongoing pressure on all localities to adopt voting systems with paper trails. It does not make any sense that ATM and lottery systems have processed trillions of transactions worldwide for decades and been accurate to the penny and Americans still do not have a voting process is just as accurate and open to audits. Having a more reliable election system would encourage even more people to vote and accept the outcome. We plan to replace the Red and Blue map of America with an Orange and Green map. Orange will be used to identify those counties that do not have paper trails on at least 90% of their voting machines and Green will be used for those counties that have met the 90% goal.
    >The campaign hopes to grow into a cross-generational, gross-gender, and cross-political movement by reaching out to such divergent groups as AARP, Churches, Native Americans, etc. Future initiatives for Vote2Win include:
    >PSA’s like:
    >Steve Martin dancing around voting booths set up at patriotic locations singing. “Act like an American.”
    >“We are the World”-like music video based on patriotic songs and speeches and with a chorus based on President Lincoln’s words, “a government of the people, by the people, and for the people.” An appearance in next year’s music video could be one of the prizes for the sweepstakes.
    >Serious PSA: Our friends, neighbors and relatives are dying in a war right now to protect our freedom to vote and express our opinions. What can we say to the wounded soldiers or the family members of those killed on the battlefield in an attempt to explain why we did not make the minimal effort to register to vote. We must not let our loved ones die in vain. Only 55% of eligible voters actually voted. What if only 55% of our soldiers showed up to defend our freedom? What if our soldiers showed up for battle and were only 55% ready? This could be accomplished by an American walking from left to right across the screen with an ever changing or morphing backdrop of small town or city. He walks right by the local election board that has a banner across the building stating that today is the last day people can register and vote. The background morphs to the front of a Veteran’s hospital with several disabled veterans sitting out front in wheelchairs and bandages. The final morph shows the American walking past a Veteran’s cemetery with a family in the background laying flowers on a grave.
    >“Participate or Vegetate” by the Veggie Tales. (Patterned after the “no Smoking” campaign that encouraged children to ask their parent to stop smoking.) Daddy, did you vote this year? Mommy, did you register to vote this year? Coordinated with PSA by Schoolhouse Rock, if possible, patterned after “How a bill becomes a law. How a democracy becomes truly free.
    >Pictures of people in lines at ATMs and Lottery machines in heavily populated areas, juxtaposed against scenes of voting booths in with no humans around in desolate landscapes like deserts, etc.
    >(With their permission) Animation of the PIXAR logo with the word Whiner spelled with the “h” formed by the PIXAR lamp with the bulb turned off. The electrical cord is connected to a voting booth. We hear the footsteps of an American voter as he/she walks up to the booth and pulls the lever, which turns the lamp on. Then lamp hops around and lands next to the “n” and forms another “n” to form the word “winner.” Voice-over says, “We all must let our light shine. Register. Vote. Win.
    >The buck stops here – show a picture of the White House. And the buck starts here – show a picture of a voting booth.
    >Shots of voters at voting booths at various locations across the country saying as they pull the lever, "Can you hear me now."
    >Put Vote2Win messages at the beginning of DVD's and video games about registering to vote and giving an 800# and web site in the style of the anti-drug messages posted by the FBI.
    >The Daily Show with John Stewart could begin their "Election 2004 1/2" segments to monitor the progress in solving the voting problems.
    >Encourage toys of democracy instead of toys of war, voting or election board games and RPG software and perhaps, the "Voting" Barbie.
    >Paper receipt for voting, don’t leave the booth without it – like American Express Ad.
    >Song: Paper trails to you until we vote again.
    >Possible sweepstake prizes:
    >Getting to say: “Live from New York, It’s Saturday night” on SNL.
    >Please let me know if you would like to be involved.
    >Middle-Aged, Middle-of-the-road, Mid-Westerner.
    PS: I think the Dr.'s plan is working just fine. Look how many people are talking about the voting process. Let's forget the fact that both of us worry that someone not quite as smart as us might go and vote. Everyone one should be encouraged to vote. We rejoice when most of the citizens in a third world country vote when many of them have no education at all. Look closely at my suggestion. It is on the honor system. The real goal is to stimulate discussion and use the thrill of a lottery as a springboard to capture attention and educate voters on the candidates and the issues. Corporate America and the upper class certainly have learned that they have an economic stake in the outcome of elections. Look at the enormous amount of money spent on lobbying and campaign donations. The contest really a minor part of what we hope to accomplish. We need to educate, stimulate all citizens and get them to realize they all have an economic and moral stake in the outcome of elections. I know voting can sometimes be tedious, confusing, and at times hopeless. But there is no reason it can't be fun. Let's encourage a democracy of ideas.

     
  • At 5/29/2006 10:31:00 PM, Blogger English Professor said…

    Very good post, Jack. Perhaps I need to rethink my habit of urging students to go cast their vote.

    During one presidential election I actually considered giving extra credit to students who proved that they voted. Fortunately, better sense took hold of me before I had a chance to implement the plan.

     
  • At 5/30/2006 07:30:00 AM, Blogger Jack Mercer said…

    Hi EP!

    Good to hear from you!

    I remember when P-Diddy launched his campaign and thought..."Oh great, just what we need, a bunch of people who know nothing about fiscal, social and foreign policy going to the polls to decide the fate of millions..."

    Hope you are well.

    -Jack

     
  • At 5/30/2006 07:31:00 AM, Blogger Jack Mercer said…

    Hi Smorg & CH!

    Glad to see you both back into the fray. As this election heats up I think should be cause for great discussion and renewed interest in our political process.

    Take care!

    -Jack

     
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