A nonprofit group is throwing in $10,000 to sweeten the deal for potential voters in Philadelphia for whom the joy of taking part in democracy might not be enough. Voter turnout in the city has been declining for a long time and sank to just 27% in a mayoral primary this May, according to the Philadelphia Citizen, which is offering the prize in its "2015 Philadelphia Municipal Election Voting Lottery." The group says it will randomly select one of Philadelphia's 1,686 voting divisions when the city votes in local elections on Nov. 3, and will hand a $10,000 check to the first voter who emerges at a selected time, the Philadelphia Inquirer reports. The Citizen says the funds will come from the Pamela and Ajay Raju Foundation civic group—and the giveaway is completely legal.
On its website, the Citizen, which was co-founded by former Philadelphia Daily News editor Larry Platt, admits that the plan is "sorta icky"—and that a similar giveaway in a Los Angeles school district was condemned as a "superficial pseudo-solution" to civic malaise—but says "desperate times call for desperate measures," and the lottery isn't the only scheme underway to try to boost voter turnout. "It's kind of a cockamamie scheme," Platt tells the Daily News. "I want to give away money to see if we can get people to vote." (Low turnout isn't just a Philadelphia problem: The "abysmally low" turnout nationwide last year was the worst since World War II.)