An advisory board in Los Angeles is urging the city council
to consider a lottery prize for those showing up at the polls during
elections. Voter turnout has been
low, so the Los Angeles Ethics Commission has come up with this idea to
encourage higher voter turnout.
Some recent elections in Los Angeles have seen turnout as
low as 8%. In the 2013 mayoral
election, only 23% of registered voters showed up at the polls to vote.
The plan would give a chance to win a good sum of money for
anyone showing up to vote at election time. The president of the advisory board suggested it could be
$25,000 or $50,000. I guess this
would give a whole new meaning to the term “buying votes”.
Usually politicians try to give enough incentive for voters
to show up through their plunder.
The politicians will announce something free or something
subsidized. Sometimes they suggest
that if they vote for the other guy, then their currently free goodies will be
taken away from them. And then
there are some who show up at the polls in an attempt to defend their property
from being taken.
When Thomas Jefferson wrote about governments “deriving
their just powers from the consent of the governed”, I suppose he didn’t
realize that the consent could be gained by offering a remote chance to win a
On the subject of voting, I tend to go along with that old
quote attributed to Emma Goldman: “If voting changed anything, they’d make it
But even though voting doesn’t usually change much, it is
interesting that this advisory board in Los Angeles is so interested in getting
voters to show up at the polls. It
is interesting that we will often see campaigns for “getting out the vote” and
we hear slogans that it is your patriotic duty to vote. Better yet, I hear that “if you don’t
vote, you can’t complain”.
In reality, not voting in itself can be a vote. It is a vote of no confidence. It is a vote for none of the
above. It is a vote of not
consenting to the government’s dictates.
While Republicans and Democrats fight it out for votes,
there is one thing that both major parties can’t stand. They can’t stand to see low voter
turnout. It makes them fearful.
The reason is because all government power rests on the
consent of the governed. It
doesn’t mean that people have to explicitly sign a contract or say out loud
that they consent. But an
acceptance of the system is enough for consent.
Republicans will challenge Democrats and Democrats will
challenge Republicans, but you will almost never hear either side challenge the
system as a whole.
When registered voters don’t show up at the polls, it means
that they don’t care, or they don’t like any of the candidates, or they don’t
endorse the system. This bothers
politicians more than anything.
The establishment doesn’t care that much who actually wins, as long as
the people think they are making a choice.
For some reason, there is a false notion that having the
right to vote is synonymous with being free. If people can vote, then they think they are free. Or at least that is what the people in
power want them to believe.
But freedom and liberty are based on property rights and
natural law. Voting oftentimes
opposes these things. Voting
serves to make things seem legitimate that otherwise wouldn’t be. You can’t go to your neighbor and steal
his money, but you can vote for a politician to do it for you. If it is done through a vote, then it
is somehow seen as being legitimate.
In conclusion, I am happy to see this proposal in Los
Angeles. I hope it happens elsewhere. It means that the establishment is
scared that they are losing legitimacy.