Way to be subtle, dude. You have to offer stuff like free ice cream and chocolate!
Did someone say chocolate ice cream?
If nobody is voting, perhaps we are being too democratic. We should perhaps appoint a Feature Czar for the time being until voting picks up again. He should be instructed to be "author blind" and not feature things based on who the author is, and also that the quality bar for getting featured should be much lower than it is. Any actual votes that take place would trump this "Feature Czar"'s decisions.
How would you know featuring had picked up if you remove it outright.
I'm not saying to remove it outright.I'm saying, authorize someone to bypass it when there is no voting going on. Then you can say, "If you don't like the Featured Article, start voting. Otherwise, don't complain."