KPCC radio reports that Fernando Guerra, the otherwise very smart director of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles at Loyola Marymount University, is proposing to make everybody who casts a ballot eligible for a lottery. Cast a ballot, and you could win $1 million! No doubt this would draw more people to the polls. But it’s a cheap stunt — cheap if you don’t count the $1 million — that doesn’t address the problem at its root. It won’t make people any more engaged with their communities and interested in public affairs, unless you picture apathetic citizens saying, “Well, as long as I’m planning to indulge my greed, I might as well start reading the newspaper and studying the issues.”
Guerra seems to think it’s worth raising turnout for its own sake, telling KPCC the election results wouldn’t suffer if people voted simply to get into the lottery. Guerra said, “There is no data to show that uninformed voters make worse decision than informed voters.” He pointed to the fact that supposedly informed people gave 9.5 percent of the votes for California secretary of state to Leland Yee, the state senator who’s on leave while facing felony charges of corruption and arms trafficking.
Whether there’s data or not, the state shouldn’t encourage quick-pick voting.