Compulsory Voting: Why it is a bad idea.

Essay by superclownUniversity, Bachelor'sA-, April 2003

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In seemingly democratic countries across the globe, a great injustice is taking place. It is hard to believe that in the age of Al-Qaeda and "the war on terrorism," few have taken notice of the undemocratic process of compulsory voting, which occurs in several first-world nations such as Australia and Belgium.

For those in favour of compulsory voting there is a belief that mandatory voting

is a civic responsibility. These supporters believe that this process strengthens democracy by increasing voter turnout, which results in an elected government which best represents the population as a whole. In reality, compulsory voting hinders democracy, because democracy by definition is meant to uphold the principles of social equality and individual rights 1.

Forcing someone to make a choice, even when they are uninformed or feel there

are no suitable candidates, violates the individual democratic rights of freedom of opinion and personal expression. It also increases the number of uninformed voters who are more likely to vote for whatever political party is currently in power.

It is a sad fact, but voter turnout in Canadian federal elections dropped 11% between 1972 and 1997, and in the US it dropped 6%, although voter turnout in the US is still lower than in Canada (49% compared to Canada's 57.5% 2). However, too often it is assumed that those who do not vote are lazy, while in reality a low voter turnout can signify a lack of true alternatives to the government in power.

According to an argument put forth by a group of American scholars, low voter turnout in the United States can be attributed to the lack of a viable working class party which promotes more egalitarian policies. Therefore, instead of choosing to vote for a party which does not represent their views, a fairly substantial...