Who Really Won?

Monday, July 17, 2006

No Dollar, Yet A Dream

To anyone who has ever said, "I wouldn't vote for that bum for a million bucks," Arizona may be calling your bluff.

A proposal to award $1 million in every general election to one lucky resident simply for voting - no matter for whom - has qualified for the November ballot.

Mark Osterloh, a political gadfly who is behind the initiative, the Arizona Voter Reward Act, is promoting it with the slogan, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? Vote!" He collected 185,902 signatures of registered voters, far more than the 122,612 required, and last week the secretary of state certified the measure for the ballot this autumn.

If the general election in 2004 is a guide, when more than two million people voted, the odds of 1 in 2 million of winning the election lottery would be far better than the American lottery known as the Powerball jackpot (currently about 1 in 146,107,962) - but not nearly as great as dying from a lightning strike (1 in 55,928).

"People buy a lot of lottery tickets now," Osterloh said, "and the odds of winning this are much, much higher." (And most of the time there is not much lightning in Arizona.)