Voting incentives are unnecessary

Dylan Fingerman ('13)/Eastside Radio Manager

Imagine the government “encouraging” everyone to use a certain brand of paper towel, eat the same thing for lunch, or even follow the same train of thought. Though the government currently is not pursuing such ideas, using voter incentives would be a step in the wrong direction when it comes to the rights of the people. People in this country are blessed with not only the right to vote, but the right not to vote.Though voting is essential to the democratic system, encouraging people to vote for the sole purpose of them voting can be dangerous as well. While technically people have the right to vote for Barack Obama just because his name sounds like “I rocked your mama”, it truly does not aid the system any more than someone not voting.  For example if two people voted randomly just to receive incentives, it almost cancels out votes for the other party that were made by informed individuals. For example, 61.6 percent of eligible voters, according to CBS, turned out to vote in the 2008 General Election. If that were to go up to 80 percent of eligible voters for the sole purpose of getting the incentive, the incentive would increase the pool of voters by 18.4 percent, and there would be a good chance that that 18.4 percent increase would be uninformed voters who truly may have no care about the turnout of the election.

Many positive incentives fail due to legal red tape involved with voting laws. Laws exists in order to prevent voter fraud, and creating voting incentives opens the door to worse things like corporate vote buying. Corporate vote buying occurs when corporations use their power to ensure that others vote the way the corporation wants them to. Corporations have also tried to endorse voting, for example Chick-Fil-A offered a free sandwich to people who had a voting receipt, but was ruled to be against corporate voter buying and instead had to expand the offer to everyone.

If the government were to offer incentives, the amount of political involvement that would have to be avoided would be enormous. If someone received an incentive that said it was from the president, that person would be unreasonably swayed to vote along those party lines.

A negative incentive would most likely cause a major uproar. A tax, or other financial drawback, for those who choose not to vote would be seen as just a tax, and voters do not respond well to taxes. Other possibilities that mark people as different, such as a mark on a license plate, or on people’s I.D., would be construed as profiling, and would antagonize people for exercising the right not to vote.

Voter incentives would be much too difficult for the government to manage. Positive incentives would be an unnecessary burden on an already struggling economy. Negative incentives would cause unfair stigmas on those who chose not to vote. A way to encourage people to get involved in politics would be great, but the government has no place getting over involved.