Jul 21, 2006, 10:06 am
By Cheryl Tatum
Hendersonville Star News
The idea of turning the voting process into a lottery as proposed by an Arizona politician is one that is surely prompting comment from many circles.
Now when I write columns for The Star News they typically are on issues or events that revolve around our local community. After all, this is a community newspaper and I believe should address those ideas that impact us where we live.
However, nothing is more important for us as a nation than the voting process. It impacts us all.
And, as my kids would say, this proposal has gotten my red hair showing.
For those who have not heard about the issue, Mark Osterloh, a candidate in the 2002 Arizona governor's race wants to award $1 million in every general election to one resident chosen by lottery simply for voting.
He gained enough signatures on petitions to place the proposal on the Arizona November election ballot.
In my mind everything about this proposal is just wrong.
Bribing people to participate in a process that men and women have died for in the past and are still dying to protect is wrong.
According to Osterloh, the idea is to increase voter turnout.
Turning the voting process into a lottery is simply taking the easy road.
It is a gimmick.
We as a country should be ashamed that every citizen does not take advantage of his or her right to vote in every election. It is the basis of democracy.
In the Sumner County primary election in May a dismal 7,234 persons out of 84,526 registered voters cast ballots. That is less than 10 percent of registered voters exercising this most basic right.
As we are promoting democracy around the world, we need to take a hard look at ourselves.
We as a country must work to restore integrity in the election process, demand that candidates address real issues instead of relying on sound bytes and not worry about whether it rains on Election Day.
We must do the hard work that is required to bring people into the political process and wipe out apathy.
Turning the voting booth into a lottery is just not the answer.
There remains some question as to whether this measure is even constitutional.
But in my mind whether it is constitutional or not, voters in Arizona should go to the polls just to say no on this one issue.
While there are those who believe strongly that a constitutional amendment protecting the flag is needed, protecting the voting process is just as important.
We should not be bribed to go to the polls, it is our right and we should exercise it.
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