posted by Josh Goodman
An Arizona ballot measure may hold the key to boosting voter turnout: paying people to vote.
The initiative, which last week the state certified for the November ballot, would award $1 million from unclaimed lottery funds to a random voter after each general election. There's a lively debate to be had here over whether boosting turnout is a worthwhile end in its own right (as this effort presupposes) or whether it's more important to increase civic knowledge and engagement, which might have the side effect of making more people want to vote.
But here's the really wacky part, as noted by the Arizona Republic: "The initiative would be retroactive, so if passed, a winner would be drawn from the November election."
In other words, voters won't just be deciding whether their future counterparts get the money, they'll be deciding whether they want a shot at $1 million or not. Gee, I wonder what they'll choose.
This type of instant gratification could work wonders for other ballot measure backers. You might not vote to legalizing cockfighting, but how about voting to legalize cockfighting and give every voter a back massage? The Property Tax Cap and Grover Norquist Limited Edition Bobblehead Giveaway referendum is sure to be a hit. We could end up with the McDonalds Golden Gateway Arch and the Taco Liberty Bell if free fast food was involved.
These hypotheticals explain why most states require ballot measures only address a single topic. But if someone ever purposes the Retroactive End to the Ban on Multi-Topic Ballot Measures and Free IPODs for Everyone referendum, watch out.