Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Increasing Voter Turnout: A Quickly Imagined, Scathingly Brilliant Idea

Hi, friends!

I hope you are doing well on this fine Tuesday evening. And if not, allow me to send you a virtual high five to lift your spirits. Wooooo!

Today I come to you just minutes after doing my civic duty: voting in the Pennsylvania Primary. I hope you did the thing today, or whenever your time is/was. If you didn't, I have a wonderful incentive for you that I thought of on my way home.

As I approached the polls, I was taken aback by two things: the lack of signage (I know it's "only a primary") and, more importantly, the the lack of people. The timing of my adventure probably had a hand in the latter, but recent history tells me there's a bigger issue - people just aren't voting.

In France last week, there was a turnout of 75.3% - their lowest since 1969. I'm sure you've seen on the news by now that this percentage would have been the highest in a U.S. Presidential Election since 1896 (79.3%), and the first time with a 70% turnout since 1900 (73.2%). For a developed nation where many people pride themselves on "being patriotic," that is horrendous. (Also, the Internet is a thing now, so there's really no excuse for not getting informed.)

But fear not, fellow citizens! I am here with a solution that should work for everyone.

As I left my empty polling place to trek home, I heard the familiar jingle of the ice cream truck. Feeling super American, I decided to treat myself to a cone. And then it hit me: my fellow Americans love ice cream. So to fix the pitiful turnout, I am proposing two ideas:

  1. Free ice cream sandwiches to all voters (after ballots are cast).
  2. Move Election Day to Saturday. (Honestly, why hasn't this happened yet?)

Now I realize I haven't thought of every angle here, but that is where the smart people join the conversation. Americans love ice cream and getting stuff for free. Putting these two things together seems like a great way to get people out to the polls.

"But Pat, what if they don't get informed and just press buttons to get free ice cream?" A great question, my friend. To that I offer this not-so-reassuring counterpoint: there's a good chance a lot of people randomly press buttons anyway, just to do their civic duty. Since there's no real way to track or combat this, isn't increasing numbers a step in the right direction? I say yes, which is why you're reading these words right now.

And I know money is an issue, one that I can't resolve right now. But I did think of having poll workers (maybe even students) giving out the free stuff, and charging a few bucks for "better" treats. That money, of course, would go to the school where you're voting. Because yes, elections should be done at schools. It just makes sense.

As for the second idea, I simply say this: a lot more people can get out to do things on a Saturday than on a Tuesday. This should already be a thing. Let's tackle that after Flint gets their water back.

So call your reps and let's get this out there. We all scream for...yeah, you know the thing. So go do it!

Until next time, don't do anything I wouldn't do!

Crap open a cold one!

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