Stumpy Wagers Bets On Paying People to Vote 

Voters in District 24 cast their ballots in the city's first-ever ranked-choice voting election on Feb. 2, 2021. (Photo by Gabriele Holtermann)

“Forget acronyms like RCV for ranked choice voting. What we need in this year’s city primary is PPTV,” said political pundit Stumpy Wagers.

“And what does PPTV stand for?” I inquired against my better judgment.

“Paying people to vote.”:

“How’s that?”

“We give all registered city voters a stimulus civic check. Two hundred dollars to ensure they cast their ballot.”

It was 9:30 p.m. We were sitting at the back table in the courtyard of a Brooklyn dive bar on Cortelyou Road, three Jamisons deep in conversation.

“How would you plan to do that?”

“We could get the city’s Campaign Finance Board to do it. People show up at the voting booth on election day or mail in their ballots and once it’s verified the CFB mails out checks for $200. Something along the lines of how district attorneys do it with the gun buyback program.”

“Are you implying we take taxpayer money and pay people to vote?”

It’s not like the city’s Campaign Finance Board Board isn’t pumping millions of dollars into public matching funds for candidates in this year’s citywide election,”  said Stumpy. “The way I figure it is we have about two million registered voters in the city and if we gave them all two hundred dollars it would be a bargain.”

“It just doesn’t seem right to me to pay people to vote.”

“What are you? Woke or something? Barely a thousand voters turned out in that last special city council election in the Bronx two weeks ago and the district has over 200,000 people. And that is a low-income district. For two hundred dollars, I bet the constituents would have taken a lot more interest in that election.”

I sipped my Jamison and pondered the idea.

“Point taken, Stumpers,” I said. “But just because you are paying people to vote doesn’t mean they will be educated voters who really care about who will represent them in City Hall.”

“Well for those that don’t care, they can have a quick pick lever in the voting booth like the lotto. A computer will generate random candidate picks and put them in ranked choice order.”

“That’s enough,” I said, righteous indignation rising in my voice. “Elections are about civil discourse not lotteries.”

“Maybe so, but I’d bet a bottle of Jamison we’d have better than a 95 percent turnout if we instituted PPTV,” said Wagers.

I polished off my whiskey and stood up to go. “That’s a bet I won’t take.”

More from Around New York