By Dave Barron
Back in the 18th century, political groups used to reward voters with a free beer and food. All they had to do was turn in the ballot stub.
Those types of Tammany Hall tactics are now illegal, but I bet they still happen. We have experienced some low-vote turnouts these past few elections. Election officials and politicians are scratching their heads trying to come up with ideas on how to get people to vote.
For many older voters, going to the polls on Election Day is a traditional cultural thing to do. It was taught to us by our parents and by experience.
In his social media column, local politician Mike Eng asks if you voted in November. Those that answered yes were among only one in four L. A. county voters that voted “setting a new record for the poorest voter turnout in a non primary election in history! “ Mike says.
He reports that out of 4 million registered voters only 24% voted. He reports that a national survey showed that almost 35% of non-voters were youth – less than 30 years old.
43% of non-voters are ethnic minorities. Almost half of non-voters are from low-income families earning less than $30,000 a year.
Over half of the nation’s non-voters attended college while over two-thirds of actual voters completed some college.
Mike argues that campaign committees do generally not target non-voters because they don’t vote. Phone calls, house calls, and mailers target “High propensity” voters who voter regularly.
In Monterey Park, only neophyte politicians and very wealthy candidates bother with non-voters. They are like missionaries seeking out the non-believers.
Why waste a dollar to send a postcard to a voter who never votes in city election. Why bother knocking on someone’s door if they never vote?
If you seek out the frequent voters here out of the 26,000 registered voters, you only have to connect with about 5,000 voters. Most of cast their ballots by U.S. Mail.
It’s a lot cheaper to send a postcard to 5,000 voters instead of the 26,000 voters.
Over two months you can knock on almost all of those 5,000 doors.
So what happens to the remaining 21,000 voters? Nothing. They are completely oblivious to the election until they see lawn signs popping up or get an Election Sample Ballot book. That election booklet gets quickly lost in the pile of junk mail we get every day.
According to Eng, Dr. Fernando Guerra, Professor at Loyola Marymount’s Center for the Study of Los Angeles is working with the L.A. City Council to boost voter turnout. His solution: everyone who votes would be eligible for a lottery drawing of up to $1 million after the election.
Mike asks, “What do you think?”
I’ll tell you what I think. I think it stinks.
I think people have a right NOT TO VOTE. If they are not concerned about the issues or candidates and don’t research the propositions, that’s their problem and maybe ours too.
For example Proposition 47 was passed because some voters thought it would be best to empty out our prisons for minor offenders. Now people are experiencing an increase in crime because criminals plead guilty to a minor offense and get out of jail in a few weeks or a few months.
I think my solution is to place election costs on your property tax bill, just like sewer and other services. If you vote, you get a rebate.
If you don’t vote you get nothing back.
Put this proposal on the ballot and you will get a huge voter turn out. Nobody wants to pay more taxes unless they are getting a direct benefit.
Like Mike asked: What do you think?