Compulsory Voting

Should voting in elections be compulsory?

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

In all democracies around the world voter apathy is highest among the poorest and most excluded sect...

In all democracies around the world voter apathy is highest among the poorest and most excluded sectors of society. Since they do not vote the political parties do not create policies for their needs, which leads to a vicious circle of increasing isolation. By making the most disenfranchised vote the major political parties are forced to take notice of them. An example of this is in the UK where the Labour party abandoned its core supporters to pursue ‘middle England’.

No because...

This idea is nonsense. Political parties do try and capture the ‘working-class’ vote. The labour party shifted to the right in the UK because no-one was voting for it; the majority of the population, from across the social spectrum, no longer believed in its socialist agenda and it altered its policies to be more in line with the majority of the population. Low turnout is best cured by more education, for example, civics classes could be introduced at school. In addition, the inclusion of these ‘less-interested’ voters will increase the influence of spin as presentation becomes more important. It will further trivialise politics and bury the issues under a pile of hype.

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

A high turnout is important for a proper democratic mandate and the functioning of democracy. In th...

A high turnout is important for a proper democratic mandate and the functioning of democracy. In this sense voting is a civic duty like Jury service. Jury service is compulsory in order that the courts can function properly and is a strong precedent for making voting compulsory.

No because...

Just as fundamental as the right to vote in a democracy is the right not to vote. Every individual should be able to choose whether or not they want to vote. Some people are just not interested in politics and they should have the right to abstain from the political process. It can also be argued that it is right that voices of those who care enough about key issues to go and vote deserve to be heard above those who do not care so strongly. Any given election will function without an 100% turnout; a much smaller turnout will suffice. The same is not true of juries which do require an 100% turnout all of the time! However, we can take a more general view by noting that even in a healthy democracy it is not surprising people should not want to do jury service because of time it takes, therefore it is made compulsory. However, in a healthy democracy people should want to vote. If they are not voting it indicates there is a fundamental problem with that democracy; forcing people to vote cannot solve such a problem. It merely causes resentment.

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

The right to vote in a democracy has been fought for throughout modern history. In the last century...

The right to vote in a democracy has been fought for throughout modern history. In the last century alone the soldiers of numerous wars and the suffragettes of many countries fought and died for enfranchisement. We should respect their sacrifice by voting.

No because...

The failure to vote is a powerful statement, since it decreases turnout and that decreases a government’s mandate. By forcing those who do not want to vote to the ballot box, a government can make its mandate much larger than the people actually wish it to be. Those who fought for democracy fought for the right to vote not the compulsion to vote.

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

People who know they will have to vote will take politics more seriously and start to take a more ac...

People who know they will have to vote will take politics more seriously and start to take a more active role.

No because...

People who are forced to vote will not make a proper considered decision. At best they will vote randomly which disrupts the proper course of voting. At worst they will vote for extreme parties as happened in Australia recently.

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

Compulsory voting is effective. In Australia the turnouts are as high as 98%!...

Compulsory voting is effective. In Australia the turnouts are as high as 98%!

No because...

The idea is not feasible. If a large proportion of the population decided not to vote it would impossible to make every non-voter pay the fine. If just 10% of the UK voters failed to do so the government would have to chase up about 4 million fines. Even if they sent demand letters to all these people, they could not take all those who refused to pay to court. Ironically, this measure hurts most those who the proposition are trying to enfranchise because they are least able to pay.

Compulsory Voting
Yes because...

Postal and proxy voting is available for those who are otherwise busy. In addition, when Internet v...

Postal and proxy voting is available for those who are otherwise busy. In addition, when Internet voting becomes available in a few years everyone will be able to vote from their own home.

No because...

Many people don’t vote because they are busy and cannot take the time off. Making voting compulsory will not get these people to the ballot box if they are actually unable to do so.



Compulsory Voting

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