Governments' Lighter Side

Philadelphia woman wins $10,000 for voting

A Philadelphia crossing guard has 10,000 more reasons to love the democratic process.

Bridget Conroy-Varnis left the Murphy Recreation Center, polling place 919, with $10,000 Tuesday night after winning The Philadelphia Citizen's election lottery, according to the Associated Press. The Citizen, a local media website, based the lottery on a random selection of the city's 1,686 polling locations. Conroy-Varnis happened to be the first voter to emerge from the winning site at 6:36 p.m.

“I can’t believe this. This is crazy,” Conroy-Varnis told The Citizen. "Every election I try to get out. That’s how I was brought up. Every vote counts, so do your civic duty.”

The intention of the lottery was just that - spurring civic engagement. 

Citizen editor Larry Platt announced the lottery last month as a way to reverse the subpar voter turnout for the city's municipal elections. A pre-election survey done by the Emerson College Polling Society found that 30 percent of Philadelphia voters knew of the lottery, but the post-election survey had not yet been completed to measure the lottery's impact on turnout. A similar concept in Los Angeles increased voting in a small school district from 46 percent to 80 percent, according to The Citizen.

As for Tuesday's voting victor, she was still in shock following the surprise money-earning simply for casting a ballot. As she left with the oversized check, she shared her plans on how she'd be spending the $10,000.

“I would like to donate a little bit,” she said. “And pay off some bills, and maybe buy a used car.”

No word on if her favorite candidate will benefit from any of the lottery winnings.

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What's Governments' Lighter Side?

It is an irreverent take on local and state government news.

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Derek Prall

Derek Prall is a professional journalist who has held numerous positions with a variety of print and online publications including The Public Manager magazine and the New Jersey Herald. He is a 2008...
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