California: Can paying people to vote increase voter turnout? L.A.’s looking into it and the answer is yes. | The Washington Post
Just 23.3 percent of Los Angeles voters cast ballots in last year’s mayoral election, the lowest figures in 100 years. Turnout was “embarrassingly down,” Herb Wesson, the city’s council president said, and he’s looking at how to change that. “Someone brought up what would it be like if we had some sort of incentive program,” Wesson said. “It’s just an idea.” The Los Angeles Ethics Commission voted Thursday for Wesson to look into various ways to increase turnout, including cash incentives like a lottery. The idea is just in the “incubation process,” Wesson said, with nothing approaching even an actual proposal, but there’s data to suggest paying people to vote increases turnout. A study conducted in 2010 in Lancaster, Calif., in northern Los Angeles County, by Fordham University professor Costas Panagopoulos found nominal incentives like a few bucks don’t do much to increase turnout, but a few more dollars is enough of an incentive to convince a larger percentage of people to vote.