Monday, October 30, 2006

Arizona Republic "My Turn" Column -- "Voter Rewards Act: NO"

Published in the October 27, 2006 edition of the Arizona Republic.

Have the proponents of Proposition 200 got a deal for you! For your vote this election, they're offering a 2,000,000-to-1 chance at a bribe worth $1 million.

The Voter Reward Act seeks to increase the civic virtue of voting by appealing to our basest, greediest and most corrupt impulses. Simply put, freedom and democracy and all that rot just aren't attractive enough anymore.

In Proposition 200's cynical view of Arizona voters, the minute chance at cold, hard cash is what we need to get us to cast our ballots.

In a truly brazen attempt at vote buying, drafters of Proposition 200 make their law effective retroactively so someone who votes in this year's primary and/or general election could score a million-dollar payday by voting "yes."

So, if you voted in the September primary, you may already be a winner!

Ironically, the cash bounty will be paid out of unclaimed lottery funds. If lottery winners who actually "invested" their own money in a lottery ticket can't be persuaded to show up and claim their winnings, how successful will the Voter Reward Act be in bribing voters to show up at the polls on primary day and Election Day?

Proposition 200 is not about increasing turnout and getting more people interested in the public policy questions of the day.

USA Today characterized Proposition 200 as "tawdry" while the New York Times points out that an Arizona voter would have a greater chance (one in 55,928) over a lifetime of being killed by lightning than winning the voter lottery.

Proposition 200 insults Arizona voters. It says that no longer will we value the opinions of conscientious, informed and patriotic voters who care enough about their voting rights to participate.

Instead, we will actively seek out uninterested, uninformed and apathetic individuals who require the chance at a $1 million jackpot to take advantage of the franchise that so many have sacrificed for, even died for, to secure.

Arizona voters should reject the embarrassing and cynical Proposition 200.

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