Should people be forced to vote? With voter turnouts in mid-cycle elections at 40% or less in many communities, the debate about compulsory voting is gaining new life in the United States. Here are the pros and cons to consider.
The Pros of Compulsory Voting
1. It promotes patriotism.
There is a certain civic responsibility in voting that is often forgotten. Without the participation of everyone, a true consensus of what the population wants is impossible to discover. With compulsory voting, people get to experience first-hand the benefits of how one vote can create changed.
2. It creates engagement.
Even with compulsory voting as law, there will be people who ignore voting. That response will be smaller, however, and because there is a requirement to vote, people will need to know what they’re voting about. The end result is a more engaged community that is in touch with the needs of everyone else instead of just themselves.
3. It allows for equal participation.
There are voting pressures in many jurisdictions in the US today that wish to silence the votes of certain demographics. It may not always be present or it may be subtle, but it is there. Compulsory voting removes this issue because it requires everyone to vote unless a valid excuse can be presented.
The Cons of Compulsory Voting
1. Voting is a right.
The problem in the US is complacency. Many are so used to the idea of voting that they see it as a duty instead of a right. That’s even how compulsory voting sees the process. There are many around the world that would risk their lives for the chance to vote. Sometimes a clearer perspective of the global community is a better option than create laws that require a vote.
2. It is a violation of the political will.
The act of not voting is in itself a vote. Not voting shows apathy for the situation. If both candidates are equally bad, then some voters may not see a need to vote for either one. Voting is a natural process that is driven by personal desire. If people want to see change, they vote for it. Compulsory voting actually limits this process.
3. It creates new time concerns.
Rural areas would be most affected by compulsory voting laws. Some households may need to travel up to 100 miles to reach a voting center. Mail-in votes could counter this, but what if they get lost? The time concerns of voting would have to be addressed.
The pros and cons of compulsory voting show that the benefits could be overshadowed by the disadvantages that would be created. It may up the voting numbers, but would it increase the accuracy of the will of the people? The answer to that question is what is so concerning.
Crystal Lombardo is a contributing editor for Vision Launch. Crystal is a seasoned writer and researcher with over 10 years of experience. She has been an editor of three popular blogs that each have had over 500,000 monthly readers.