Should Voting Be Mandatory?

I was watching a video where the host was asked whether he thought voting should be mandatory.

He was split on the issue, and argued a bit from both perspectives. On one hand he thought that since we have mandatory jury duty, it makes sense that we could have mandatory voting. He also argued it might be better for the country, since in polling, America (and you could likely argue the same in many Western countries) the country leans Left, which means the Liberal party would be far more likely to win.

On the other hand, he didn’t much like the idea that people would be forced to vote.

I’m pretty firmly in the camp against mandatory voting. In fact, I think mandatory jury duty is awful as well, and it isn’t a good excuse to force people to do more.

Anyhow, I made a video about it that goes a little bit more in depth. It also includes the original hosts points.

So what do you think? Should voting be mandatory? Why or why not?

Happy weekend all!

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28 Comments

  1. One of the rights we have in this country is the right to vote, or NOT vote.
    In some countries you are picked up from work, or home, and driven to the polls to vote. You have no choice.

    In some countries you are told who to vote for.

    We may not have record turnouts, and we may not like the results, but it’s still our choice.

    I should also think that in a country this size mandatory voting would be a nightmare to enforce.

  2. No one likes to be forced into anything. We claim free will and by gum, no one better interfere with that!

    However, having said that, I’m not so sure that mandatory voting is a bad idea. I sometimes wonder if those making the most noise about the current U.S. elections even cast their ballot. At least if everyone was required to mark an “X”, pro and con discussions on governmental issues would be based more on “reality” rather than simply “personal opinion.”

    And beyond that, if everyone voted, the individuals who were involved (whether in backing a bill or running for office) would know the results were truly because “the people had spoken.”

    Nevertheless, I must go back to my first sentence and face the fact it likely will never happen.

  3. I’m Australian, we have mandatory voting. The vast majority of Australians think it is a good idea. The problem with voluntary voting is that the extremists are more highly motivated to vote, with mandatory voting the apathetic centre needs to be the focus of the politicians.

    We also have mandatory seat belt laws. Sometimes people need to be coerced to do what is in their own best interests.

  4. I live in Australia and we have had compulsory voting since the 1920s. A very small percentage of people don’t vote (less than 10%) and they get fined, but it is not seen as a major problem. People complain a little, but, hey, the vast majority vote.
    I can see why people don’t like the word ‘compulsory’ or ‘mandatory’ as it sounds like it is against the ideals of liberty. However, imagine a monarchy where it was considered that the King only needs to rule if he wants to, it is just voluntary.
    Rather than see mandatory voting as a forced lack of freedom, but rather as a duty, it makes more sense. A democracy is rule of the people, therefore it should be the duty of the people to do their bit to rule. In a representative democracy, as the modern democratic states are, then the only act of duty required of the people is to vote. It is not a big ask.
    I don’t understand why people would want a democracy and yet not want to vote, and also feel that they have no duty to vote. If you don’t want to vote, if you don’t feel it is your duty to vote, then that is saying to me, that you do not want a democracy.
    I also feel that if people do not vote then they have no ‘right’ to complain about who was voted in. An argument against that is that they don’t want to vote for any of the candidates on offer. That is asking for an ideal situation. All candidates were voted for in various electoral situations to get into the position they are in for you to vote. They are the only choice you have at the time and so you have to vote for which one you prefer. If you do not vote, then you are – by proxy – voting for whoever it is who does win. That returns me to what I originally said, if you don’t vote you have no right to complain about who is in government, because you forfeited your right to choose who would win.
    The result of compulsory voting in Australia is that we can feel genuinely that the people who are voted in genuinely reflect what the majority of people want, unlike the current situation in the USA where only about 50% of the people voted in the last Presidential election.
    Another result is, that during the electoral campaigns the politicians can discuss the policies in much more detail. They do not have to campaign simply to talk people into voting, but rather about the policies they offer in order to talk them into voting for them rather than the other person. When I watch the American political campaigns, the things they discuss are so general and idealogical, but with very little substance and explanation as to how their proposals will be implemented.
    One more consequence is that Australians will discuss politics a lot. A common phrase is to not discuss sex, religion or politics is polite society. However, in Australia, the discussion of politics is not a problem. Sure, people may argue, but they don’t get upset and refuse to discuss it. Where, I have noticed on the internet that Americans can get very upset when discussing politics, taking it quite personal. In Australia you may have a very heated discussion over politics, then when it is finished you happily share another beer with each other.

  5. First, it bears mentioning that neither Canada, nor the United States operate as democracies. The former is a constitutional monarchy, while the latter is a constitutional republic.

    Second, the proposition that civil liberties must be abridged in order to protect fundamental human rights is …. contradictory?

    So my answer is, no—forcing someone to vote runs counter to very the principles of a nation that’s founded on the protection of civil liberties.

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