Politics

Would a chance to win a jackpot increase voter turnout in Los Angeles?

As voter participation in Los Angeles dwindles, the Ethics Commission considers a lottery to get more Angelenos to the polls.
As voter participation in Los Angeles dwindles, the Ethics Commission considers a lottery to get more Angelenos to the polls.
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Would you vote in a Los Angeles city election if it meant you'd have a chance to win $1 million? 

What if the jackpot were just $1,ooo?

The Los Angeles Ethics Commission discussed a proposal on Thursday, to create a lottery that would encourage Angelenos to show up at the polls. Turnout in last year's mayoral race was a dismal 23 percent. (Still, it was better than the 8 percent turnout in Tuesday's special election for the LAUSD Board of Education.)

The commission floated the idea of offering a prize of $1,000 to 100 voters in a municipal election. It is illegal for states to hold lotteries in elections with a federal candidate on the ballot. However, Los Angeles municipal elections are held in March and May of odd-numbered years. Therefore they could, theoretically, have a lottery with prizes for lucky voters. 

Council President Herb Wesson, who attended the commission meeting, called the idea "exciting." Ultimately, it will be up to the Los Angeles City Council to pursue any form of lottery. 

If this lottery idea sounds familiar, it may be because Fernando Guerra of the Center for the Study of Los Angeles suggested it to KPCC in the wake of the June primary.