Tucson is the urban center of a metropolitan area that will push to a population of one million before the next census. In the city of Tucson there are 248,777 eligible voters yet slightly less than 22% of them actually voted, and half of those voted by mail.
We often decry this low level of voter participation, but I wonder if it really makes any difference to the quality of government we get. This may be heresy, but might it possibly be the case that low turnout gives us better government?
After all, the people who vote are the political activists, the politically engaged, people who are well enough informed to have some understanding of the candidates and issues.
Being Paid To Vote
There may be an initiative on the ballot in 2006 that will pay eligible voters to vote. Every voter will be given a lottery ticket. Such a deal--- but do we really want this? “Whodja vote for?” …”Who knows, but I got my ticket.”
Vote by Mail
Talked to Tucson city councilman Leal last night. Look for him to try move the city to an all-vote-by-mail policy. It cost Tucson a half million dollars to open the polls yesterday.
It would certainly save the city money, but it does make elections more expensive for the parties, so in one sense you are just shifting the costs.
On a purely personal note I would be sorry not to be able to go to the polling place to vote. It always seems to me that actually going to the polls, seeing my neighbors, marking a ballot in the privacy of the voting booth, was a kind of public affirmation of my belief in the system.