Imagine you lived in a place where if you don’t vote the government will not let you leave the country? Or if you don’t make it to the polls you would be fined 20 bucks? Policies like this are referred to as compulsory voting. To Americans this may sound a little crazy but it’s very real in places like Brazil and Australia.
So how outlandish is this idea? Maybe not as much as you think. I see three fantastic reasons to support compulsory voting. First off, it would revolutionize United States political organizing for the better. All of the time and money spent on registering and reminding citizens to vote would be all be done by the government. This intensive and time consuming process would be gone, making room for more time spent actually campaigning. Secondly, it would increase the legitimacy of the government and it’s elected officials. It would prevent politicians from representing a constituency in which the majority didn’t vote for them (See Bush v. Gore ). When everyone votes, everyone’s voice is heard equally. Finally, compulsory voting leads to a more educated and informed populace which will increase the overall value of the political process.
So next time you forget to vote, remember how in other parts of the world you don’t even have the option!
Now stay tuned for my next post when I mix compulsory voting with the crazy idea of proportional representation! Now that’s what I call a serious democracy.