Lotteries, Luck, and the Inauguration

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(Source: Destination DC)

As has been reported by numerous blogs, newspapers, and TV stations, the hottest ticket, seemingly, on the planet is one to an event where Obama is the star and Washington, D.C.’s Capitol building is his stage. Requests for the 240,000 free tickets, which have yet to be released or distributed, have reached their max for many Congress members and House representatives, who say that their offices have been flooded with calls and e-mails vying for the coveted front seat to history being made.

When it comes to getting the tickets, however, the question of fairness is a top one. Though Obama’s swearing-in can be  witnessed on the National Mall without tickets, many would like to have a view not enhanced by binoculars or framed by images on a jumbotron.

New York’s Sen. Charles Schumer instituted a statewide lottery to distribute his office’s tickets, and told residents interested in entering the drawing to visit his Website, according to the Associated Press.

“Although I wish all of America could attend the inauguration, there is only so much space,” Schumer told the AP. “We need to distribute these tickets fairly.”

The online lottery form requests your name, address, and other personal identification information. The cut off for entry is Nov. 30, and the actual lottery will be conducted Dec. 1 by random selection, according to the senator’s office. The office will also accept requests by fax and will not accept those by mail or telephone.

His office is not the only one combating the overwhelming demand with a lottery. Rep. Ron Kind of Wisconsin will also be utilizing a lottery, according to his office. Reports have his requests at 6,000, though the office will get less than 500 tickets. After a call to his Washington office, I was told that the best way to request tickets is to call, and that constituents can also submit a request via the general e-mail form on Kind’s Website. The office has set a cut-off date of Dec. 19 for the lottery, and Jan. 19 for pick-up of tickets once selected.

In Colorado, “because of the unprecedented demand for tickets,” Rep. Diana DeGette’s Website has ceased taking requests and will hold a lottery as well.

Other representatives across the country are going by the “first come, first serve” method, such as Illinois Rep. Richard E. Neal, whose office has also stopped taking online requests.

And buzz surrounds stories of special VIPs pulling strings and using connections and who, in some eyes, abuse their connections by requesting more than their fair share of tickets. One such case is that of Dan Glickman, president of the Motion Picture Association of America, who, according to reports, will get the two tickets he’s entitled to as a former congressman, as well as additional tickets from his Kansas senator, of which he’s requesting like any other constituent would.

Let’s not forget all the celebrities and

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