Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Paying Uninformed People to Cast Ballots Is Terrible Idea

Newspaper article The Topeka Capital-Journal

Paying Uninformed People to Cast Ballots Is Terrible Idea

Article excerpt

The pursuit of perfection is usually foredoomed, but the Los Angeles City Ethics Commission has a perfectly awful idea. It is urging the city council to consider ways of paying -- starchier ethicists might call it bribing -- people to vote.

Some ideas are so loopy they could only be conceived by governments. And governments are generally confident that their constituents need to be improved by spending the constituents' money. The supposed problem for which the "pay the voters" idea purports to be a solution is this: Few Los Angeles residents are voting.

Especially alarming to those who choose to be alarmed is the fact that only 23.3 percent of those eligible to vote did so in last year's mayoral election.

Since the days of Hiram Johnson (1866-1945), who was governor 100 years ago, progressivism has intermittently made California an incubator of dubious ideas. One of which is that government should fine-tune political partisanship -- disagreements about how government should behave. If this looks like a conflict of interest, you have not embraced progressivism's default assumption, which is that disinterested government has only the interests of "the people" at heart.

Los Angeles has a nonpartisan primary. In it, all candidates of all party affiliations for a particular office are listed together on primary election ballots. If no one receives a majority, the top two finishers then face each other in a runoff election. The rationale for this system, is that there is "too much" partisanship which produces "too much" polarization.

Los Angeles is a one-party city in a one-party state. It is a state in which one power -- organized labor, especially government employees' unions -- is the dominant political force, no matter who is chosen to govern.

Predictably, the March 2013 mayoral primary produced a general election choice between two progressive Democrats. Predictably, this did not produce a stampede to the May runoff. …

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