Cash for voting? City of Los Angeles considers idea

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- With the dismal turnout in recent local elections, the City of Los Angeles is considering rewarding people who vote with a chance to win cash prizes.

Los Angeles County saw one of the lowest voter turnouts ever in the last election - only 13 percent. Some officials are considering giving as much as $50,000 to a few lucky voters chosen at random.

"The way you qualify for it is actually showing up and submitting a voting ballot. We're not telling you how to vote, who to vote for, what party to vote for or what position to take on a ballot initiative. All they have to do is actually vote," said Nathan Hochman, president of the Los Angeles Ethics Commission.

In some countries, people stand in line for hours to vote and the act sometimes means risking their life. Australia charges a tax to those who don't vote.

"I can't say we would do it or not do it. Maybe somewhere in the middle we can find a good idea that we try," City Council President Herb Wesson said.

Some don't think this is the right way to go.

"It's not something we should gamble with, especially adding lottery prizes. What we should do is have a communication, get together as a community and figure out what's best for Los Angeles. We shouldn't gamble with democracy," City Councilmember Felipe Fuentes said.

Others think it might actually lead to more informed voters.

"When you know you're not going to vote, the chances are you're not paying attention to it. But if you know you're going to vote, you'll porbably pay attention to it and make an informed vote,"

Still more believe voting is the right thing to do and not because there is a chance of hitting the jackpot.

"It's kind of pathetic that we have to bribe in order for people to live out their rights as a human being," Los Angeles resident Leslie Baird said.

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