NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


July 21, 2006

One of the cheesier propositions on the November ballot asks Arizona voters to approve a new lottery designed to attract more voters to polling places by turning the rite of democracy into a raffle with a $1 million grand prize.  There is ample reason not to approach the voting lever like a one-armed bandit, says the New York Times.

For starters, it's against the law to buy votes:

  • The Arizona lottery proponents insist their wording gets around that annoying qualification of democracy by defining a supposedly higher state-sanctioned purpose.
  • But a million-dollar award to the voter cheapens politics as much as any candidate's money-grubbing.
  • The better answer to the problem of low voter turnout -- lively races debating substantive issues -- was signaled by Arizona voters themselves when the presidential contest in 2004 drew them out at a healthy 77 percent rate.

The right to vote has never been more precious.  It is not encouraging that proponents collected far more than enough signatures to put this daft idea on the ballot.  That leaves it up to Arizona voters to set the record straight: the vote is priceless.  This vote-to-play proposition deserves defeat for being more Sybaritic than democratic, says the Times.

Source: Editorial, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire Voter?" New York Times, July 21, 2006.

For text (subscription required):


Browse more articles on Government Issues