Another Way to Encourage Voting

How about … publishing the names and addresses of people who don’t vote? Nothing like a little shaming offensive to boost voter turnout, right? Well, in this case it’s complicated by the fact that it was a black newspaper, the Tennessee Tribune, that did the outing, and most of the non-voters they outed were black. You can imagine the uproar if the paper wasn’t a black paper and the voters were. But it seems it’s always more acceptable for a group to criticize itself from within than to be criticized from without.


Well, that might help, if people care what other people think, and if you know people you care about read that particular paper...

I don't vote, for many well-thought-out reasons, and I honestly wouldn't care if someone plastered my name all over the front page of the local paper. I stand up for my choice to be able to vote or to choose to abstain.


If you want to increase participation, how about having election day fall on a Saturday or Sunday?
That appears to work well in other countries to help most people vote without skipping work.


A friend argued recently that just as he has a right to keep secret whom he voted for, that right should also include whether or not he voted at all.

I do not know if I fully agree with his argument, but it does seem somewhat reasonable.


Just think of the problems that would occur if the newspaper accidently published the name(s) of someone who did, in fact, vote. A situation like that, once CNN picked up on it, would definitely lead to more public distrust in our voter system.


People usually do-not vote because the choices are so bad. And the impact of special interest money, redrawn local voting districts or the negative adds. it is not the voter who is broken, its the system itself that is broken.

If we want a fair election where the best candidate wins, every voting block has a voice, right, left and center. Have an open election where all qualified candidates run in one election, no primaries.

We as voters would grade our top 3 candidates seeking each office being contested.
Our first choice for that office would receive 3 points
Our second choice would receive 2 points, and finally our third choice would receive 1 point.

This type of electioneering would impact negative advertising greatly. It is one thing to target a single opponent with ads, imagine trying to target 3 or four opposing candidates,. One would quickly spend one's advertising budget.

This type of Voting / Elections would very rarely end in a tie and we would save the expense of primary elections and recounts. Most of all, the independent voter (the center) would have a chance at picking a winning candidate rather than having to choose between the lessor of two extremes.

Eventually we may begin to see better public officials, more positive campains and thus many more people would take a shot at the brass ring of public office.


Charles Bronson

I think this is an invasion of privacy. If voting is not compulsory then the decision of whether or not to vote is just as private an issue as who you vote for.

Don Robertson


I read your article, and I found it impossible to believe. I mean, "a black newspaper"?

It must be incredibly difficult to read.

Not to stray off the topic of economics too far...

I'm up in northern Maine. I've lived up here for years, but my wife and I recently relocated to Limestone, where we have Canada Geese, thousands of them. Note however, they are Canada Geese and not Canadian geese. You have to actually go to Canada to see Canadian geese. Here in the states, they're Canada Geese, but being only three miles from Canada, they likely are part time Canadian geese too.

Anyway, I've been watching these Canada Geese now for the last eight weeks or so. They're not heading south yet, but they're certainly getting ready. They fly north, south, east and west and they're getting better at it every day I watch them.

I never realized Canada Geese had to practice for the annual migrations, but that's what I'm seeing. I've no doubt about it. During the first few weeks of their planned practices it was pretty funny to watch as the "V" formation sometimes looked more like a rhorshack ink spot.

They're getting the hang of it now, so I expect they'll eventually head south, and probably most of them will make it too.

It's the same everywhere. Practice makes perfect, or nearly so...

A "a black newspaper." Well... I can't imagine the fuss. I mean, I have trouble enough with the newspaper-sized print. But, if you say so, I'm against whatever it is they're publishing.

Don Robertson, The American Philosopher
Limestone, Maine

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I can not believe that MOST nonvoters are really doing it because they have a moral objection to the partisan redistricting and attack ads. Surely those are the most tragic nonvoters, because they are the ones who, presented with the right choices, could really do us all some good. However, I think most people just don't care, or think that they are evading jury duty.


Travis0485 Says: "Just think of the problems that would occur if the newspaper accidently published the name(s) of someone who did, in fact, vote."

Just think of of the problems if one DIDN'T vote and their name WASN'T on the list! This is probably one of the best ways to catch voter fraud.

I don't think this method would be effective in increasing voter turnout, however (particularly in cities). I also think the choice to vote is a freedom to exercise as well.

Here's an idea... if you vote, you get a card that gets you preferential treatment at City Hall, the Post Office and the DMV. It would be good for one year. Maybe you could apply it to anything governmental you have to stand in line for. Or better yet - include that card with your tax returns to get $100 off your taxes; and if you owed nothing or got a return, you would recieve it.


Among minority coworkers and friends I've had it seems to me that many (lower-class, lower-middle class) blacks in this country have an absolute distrust of the voting system and a sense that it has all been decided beforehand by elite whites. I couldn't really persuade my friends that this is not the case. The politicans don't spend all this money on advertising for nothing. (And that money, advertising, and incumbency determine elections--not some cabal of fat white men looking like Boss Tweed sit around and decide things.) The Diebold and electronic voting scandals didn't help however.

This is just my personal experience among people I have known.


Just their name and addresses? I think it would be better to post one photo each day, focusing on the unattractive moments of their lives. Don't just give 'em one day of embarassment, give 'em a whole election cycle of fear.

Lisa McLeod

When MLK's father, Daddy King, began posting the names and amounts of all the church donations in a big public list at the front of the church, an amazing thing happened,

In a startling moment of synchronicity, church donations suddenly went up.

Almost all the members spontaniously decided to give more, and many who been coming for years without giving anything, suddenly decided to get generous.


I don't think this is a black white issue, although I'm thinking that a certain Senator from Chicago has a huge pool of untapped voters he can bring out.

This is about us humans saying one thing and doing another, and yes, it's easier to call your own kind out on the carpet than point the fingers at others.

As far as elections go, I believe the internet holds the ultimate answer, as the barriers to entry go down, the internet has the potential to transform our leaders into true servants of the people.

Today we send email petitions to our elected officials. We are not far away from the time when the citizens will actually vote on the issues themselves, and our elected officials will be charged with carrying out the will of the people.

People complain about how anonymous the internet is, but I actually believe it is taking us to a whole new level of accountability, just like the printing press did. Sure there was a lot of junk, but the general public was now armed with more information and it increased our power.

Soon we will know everything about every one; how much money you make, who you voted for, and what you look like naked, and no one will even care at all.



I'm all for encouraging people to vote, and for making it as easy as possible. However, I'm wary of shaming people into it, just as I'm wary of paying people to do it, whether it's with coupons, perks, or a million-dollar lottery ticket.

Low voter turnout is not a problem. It's a symptom. The cause is likely some combination of apathy, laziness, disaffection, and disgust. Paying people to show up at the polls doesn't achieve anything other than affecting the voter turnout statistic. It's hard to imagine that treating the symptom in this case would actually increase people's engagement with the governance of their country.

It's almost axiomatic that voting is a civic duty. However, I would argue that "voting," in this context, should include more than they physical act of showing up and pushing a button. Voting means putting in enough effort to make some kind of informed choice, and then acting on it. Sure, it means a little more work, and it may seem like asking for this level of effort is swimming upsteam. But if it took no effort, people wouldn't refer to it as a duty.



Saying, "Low voter turnout is not a problem. It's a symptom." is a symptom, itself... of taking the doctor speak analogy way too seriously.

Low voter turnout is an effect, alright, but not of imperceptible forces or diseases of democracy. As the last election demonstrated, there was quite a lot of specific effort to suppress voting.

If voters find it more uncomfortable to NOT vote, then maybe they will vote. And if they don't like pressure on all sides, maybe they will take some action of their own, such as learning something about candidates.


I agree with one of Freakazoid's comments -- efforts to suppress voting, whether it be by calling people to misinform them about the date of the election, setting up police checkpoints in black neighborhoods, or providing fewer or outdated machines to poor areas, should be roundly condemned, and the perpetrators should rot in jail. It's disgusting. However, the implication that this kind of fraud is the primary reason people aren't voting seems unlikely.

If you believe (as I do) that everyone who is eligible should get out and vote, I think it's fair to question why you believe it. To me, one good reason is that "government of the people" means that our government is an extension of ourselves, not a cruel, parasitic organism to be loathed or feared. Another good reason is to remind ourselves not to take this privilege for granted. Many people in this world will never get the opportunity, and as stable as our system seems at the moment, there are no guarantees going forward. Offering lottery tickets or other incentives to do something people should be doing because they want to doesn't achieve the first aim, and makes a mockery of the second.

Will raising those poll numbers really do us as a country so much good that we should pander to those people who won't vote unless they are paid to do so? I would never suggest that voting should be restricted to one ethnic group, or social class, or gender, or what have you, but I do think it is a privilege that should be reserved for those who care enough to do it for its own sake. If not, what kind of governance do we have a right to expect?



The best way to encourage voting is to have a candidate worth voting for.


19-Just as eccentric as #7, makes alot more sense, however, much more repetitive...Are you trying to drive home a point?


#19) John Fembup

"Anyone who voluntarily gives away their franchise has nothing important to contribute to political decisions."

I understand you think it's important seeing as you repeat it incessently, however, this is idiotic. This not only assumes that voting is the only way to participate in political decisions, you also don't take into account non-voting as a political decision, or people who agree with you and don't see it as a negative. Additionally, there are also nonvoluntary nonvoters because of things like machine error (FL-13), long lines, intimidation that all factor into non-voting.

George S

Voting is a right won and protected by the sacrifices of many people. It is a privilege and people should not be given incentives and rewards for doing so. But there are some valid reasons why many people do not vote.

People will not vote if the effort entailed is greater than the impact of their vote. That effort doesn't just involve travel and time, but being informed on the issues and candidates.
There are too many ballot initiatives today and it is almost impossible for the average voter to be literate on all of those questions. How many people can really take the time to understand something like stem cell research and truly understand what their vote might represent? How about tax law? Environmental impact? These and other very complicated initiatives are presented to voters every election cycle. The effort to make an educated vote far outweighs any impact the initiative might have on me as an individual.

The candidates do not address these issues, but throw out talking points and attack ads. The media make no effort to truly educate, but rather push their viewpoint as fact.

People will also not vote if they feel their vote is meaningless, not in the sense of "I'm just one vote of millions", but in the sense that my decision can be ignored or changed by bureaucrats or by judges who I did not elect. How many approved voter initiatives have been overturned in this way?

Elected officials should act for those who elected them and be held accountable (term limits). They should have the guts to make politically risky decisions rather than foisting off their responsibility to the voters as a referendum or a ballot initiative whenever their political future might be at risk by taking a stand.

When these conditions are met, voter turnout is usually high.



since I am a salaried employer, my employer allows me time to leave to vote, and complies with the amount of time I am allowed to vote. If I go over that time, not a problem. And with voting lines in some places pretty big, it is likely we go over. If you are an hourly employee, then you only get paid for the time you work - does this disenfranchise poooper voters who need money more than they percieve they need to vote?