Desperate for Voters, LA May Offer Cash Prize
City considers lottery-like incentive to cast your ballot
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 15, 2014 12:40 PM CDT
Two California voters cast their ballots in this file photo. The guy on the left happens to be then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.   (AP Photo/Al Seib,pool)

(Newser) – Los Angeles is considering turning voting ballots into lottery tickets. With fewer than a fourth of voters showing up for recent local elections, the city's Ethics Commission voted unanimously yesterday to recommend that the City Council consider a cash-prize drawing as an incentive to vote. Commission President Nathan Hochman suggests the prizes could be $25,000 or $50,000, saying a pilot program should be used first to zero in on the proper payout.

The Los Angeles Times notes that federal law prohibits payment for voting, but Ethics Commissioner Jessica Levinson says that statute wouldn't apply to elections without federal races. California law prohibits money or gifts only for votes for a particular candidate or measure, or to stay away from the polls. One weird quirk: Under the current idea, people would be eligible to win simply by entering a voting booth. If they hate all the candidates, they'd be free to skip the actual voting.