Apparently there’s a UConn voter registration drive next week, and Republican U.S. Senate candidate Linda McMahon has a plan to pay UConn students $10 per hour to register voters, with a bonus of $5 per Republican voter registered. Brian Lockhart’s Stamford Advocate article explains the situation:
[UConn College Republicans recruitment chairman Joseph] Gasser emphasized there was no intention to promote the drive as a McMahon event and said he recognized there might be some concerns about the payments.
“I approached this extremely carefully. The last thing I want is to be embroiled in some scandal,” he said. “I’m making sure to approach this on a very non-partisan basis, making it clear she may be funding (the registration) but it’s not a Republican-leaning process and we’re following the Secretary of the State’s guidelines.”
But McMahon spokesman Ed Patru said the intention of the drive and others being planned is to help McMahon.
“We’re absolutely registering voters on college campuses and growing the party through voter drives. Every student who is brought on to help with this effort signs a participation agreement — a legal document. Students cannot pressure a potential voter register with a party affiliation,” Patru said. “Having said that, their job is to promote Linda McMahon and people who come and ask about Linda and say they want to support Linda, we share with them we’d love to have your support but you have to be registered as a Republican to vote for her in the primary.”
I’m all for paying college students for their time, but a $5 bonus for Republican registrants raises all kinds of red flags. It also sets up some perverse incentives that may result in fraud.
Update [2010/04/26]: Linda has decided not to pay the $5 bonus after all. The fact that she was ever considering it should raise serious questions about her critical thinking skills and sense of right and wrong.