Voting as a Lottery

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 lottery.


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 illegal.”

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.