Paying people to vote is insane

Obviously, some level of financial enticement would draw to the polls a significant number of those who hitherto have not been moved by normal political exhortations or moral shaming. (“Men left bloody footprints in the snow at Valley Forge in order to secure your right to select the candidate you prefer from a pair of progressives.”) Whether the city, in its parlous financial condition, can afford this expenditure is a decision to be made, alas, by the political class that got the city into its condition. But when making the cost-benefit calculation, that class should ask: What benefit might result?

Regarding voting, more often means worse. If money is necessary to lure certain voters to the polls, those voters will lower the quality of the turnout: They will be those people who are especially uninterested in, and hence especially uninformed about, public affairs. Why is it intelligent public policy to encourage their participation?

One suggested measure to conquer nonvoters’ lassitude is to create a special lottery and give everyone who shows up at the polls a chance to win, say, $100,000. Lotteries thrive on the irrational hopes of people not thinking clearly about probabilities, which is why governments love lotteries to raise funds. And why there would be nice symmetry in using a lottery to further decrease the reasonableness of our politics.