The Pros and Cons of Mandatory Voting

I used to be a strong advocate for voting, but not anymore. Voting is an integral part of democracy, but the problem is that there is no democracy.

When the political parties are bought and paid for by, more or less, the exact same corporate interests, the outcome of elections becomes irrelevant. Regardless of who is elected, the corporate interests win and the people lose. All mandatory voting does is legitimize the process.

It would be no different than many authoritarian countries where there is only one party and often only one candidate and yet the people are still expected to go through the charade of voting.

If we had a society where the population was highly educated and well-informed, we wouldn’t need mandatory voting laws. The people would be inclined to vote, because they would recognize the importance of voting. However, what we have are populations of distracted, overly-stressed, misinformed people who have become apathetic and disillusioned by a system that continuously fails them.

JoAnn Chateau

President Obama talks about mandatory voting.

President Obama promoted the idea of mandatory voting at the City Club of Cleveland on March 15, 2015. Watch him speak, courtesy of CNN.

In Australia and some other countries, it’s mandatory to vote. It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything. If everybody voted, it would completely change the political map in this country. Because, the people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower-income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. And they’re often the folks who are scratching and climbing to get into the middle-class, and they’re working hard. There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls. We should want to get them into the polls.

— President Obama 

Upon seeing this, my immediate gut-reaction was ‘Fantastic Idea!’ Still, what might be the pros and cons?

Mandatory Voting Pros

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