Voting incentives: yes on 205, no on 200

In his homage to legendary blues singer Blind Willie McTell, Bob Dylan wrote:

Well, God is in heaven

And we all want what's his

But power and greed

and corruptible seed

Seem to be all that there is

Those words best sum up what is at stake when voters decide the fate of Proposition 200, the Voter Rewards Act.

The measure rewards one voter every two years with $1 million. Its intent is to increase voter turnout, which admittedly is a noble endeavor.

The question we all need to ask ourselves about Prop. 200 is have we as a society sunk so low that we have to be bribed to vote.

Past generations in this country considered voting to be an honorable privilege. Now we're being asked to make this privilege an extension of the lottery.

No, enough.

If you want to gamble, go to the casino or buy a lottery ticket.

It you're going to vote, do it for the right reasons. Be proud that you did vote and be proud of your choices.

But please, don't do it because you might win a million bucks.

Don't be lured by greed and corruptible seed.

Proposition 205

Another measure designed to increase voter participation is Proposition 205, the Vote by Mail Act.

This proposition will not take away your ability to vote the old-fashioned way in a private voting booth on election day.

What it will do is give you the option of voting by mail in all state elections.

We've already seen the success of vote-by-mail in the Verde Valley. Clarkdale and Camp Verde have used vote-by-mail with excellent results for several years now.

Clarkdale always had strong voter participation before the days of mail-in balloting. In "old-style" elections, the town even saw a 50-percent turnout for the 1998 primary. That election was, it bears emphasis, one of the most anticipated in the community's history. In addition to the town council vote was the question of whether the Clarkdale-Jerome School District would be unified with Cottonwood-Oak Creek and Mingus. But even a ballot issue as hot as this one did not generation the numbers Clarkdale experienced after it transitioned to mail-in balloting. The 2002 primary, for example, had a 66-percent voter turnout. The '04 primary saw 64.4 percent of the town's registered voters cast ballots.

In Camp Verde, the last traditional election in the town occurred in 1999 when 28 percent of the voters cast ballots. In the first mail-in ballot in Camp Verde's history in 2001, the town experienced voter participation of 53 percent. Since then, voter turnout has continued to increase; 55 percent in the 2003 primary and 57 percent in the '05 primary.

By comparison, Cottonwood, which has held firm to traditional elections, has experienced voter turnouts ranging from a low of 10 percent in 1997 to a high of 22.7 percent in 2001, when a highly controversial ballot issue seeking the repeal of sales tax on food items was on the ballot.

Locally, at least, the proof is in the pudding; mail-in balloting results in significantly higher voter turnout. In addition, you can make a case that mail-in balloting allows for more thoughtful voting on complicated ballot questions. In a voting booth, you're on the spot to make the yes or no decision now. With a mail-in ballot, you can take the time to read up on the issue and debate it with friends and family before casting your vote.

Proposition 200 represents a prostitution of the voting process. It should be rejected.

Proposition 205 makes it more convenient to vote and has a proven track record of success. It should be endorsed by voters.

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