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Increase Voter Turnout By Paying People to Vote

I’m told by a local elections board member that turnout in Madison County for the recent primaries was under 17 percent.

There must be a better incentive to vote than pie in the sky. That pie with a crust so thick that some of its crumbs are supposed to break off and fall onto the plates of the lucky few. That pie rests on a shelf so high that from the sidewalk of Main Street you can’t even see how many or whose thumbs are inserted therein.

We subsidize lots of activity at the national level. We prop up essential businesses when needed. We bail out our favorite failures. It’s time now to bail out the vote, an activity that outranks all others in terms of the breathing life of a community and the security of a nation.

For several years now, the myth of voter fraud has driven voter ID crackdowns in most states.

Those crackdowns exposed the idea of voter fraud as no more than some reptilian dream shared by closets full of wild-eyed conspiracy theorists.

The vigorous enforcement of voter ID has created such a useful database of the voting populace that it would be easy and successful to reward voters with a sizeable tax credit for each time they participate. I was thinking $750–$1,000 would be a good starting point. At the end of each year, each voter would get something like a W-2 that would tally his credits, so he could use it with his tax return. It would also be a good incentive to file.

The closest measure we have now to subsidized voting is the well-intentioned but feckless public financing available to presidential candidates. That little stream is a down-the-leg dribble compared to the fire-hose blasts of private, PAC and dark money uncorked by the Supreme Court with its infamous Citizens United ruling, so that serious candidates routinely turn down the public funds source.  

There are buckets of money sloshing around every national government office, wheelbarrows of it parked in dead end halls of labyrinthine edifice complexes. Leaders who parrot the old squawk about the government being broke ignore the fact that its largest department, defense, has never been audited. They actually don’t even know if the government could go broke.

The question of affordability is beside the point anyway. An electorate that makes a 90 percent showing will likely bring out a whole new cast of actors on the public stage, be it local, state or national. That new cast will likely have a different script, and turn out a much better performance than the sad company that disappoints most everyone now.

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