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
- Every citizen would be part of the political process
- Election results might better reflect the issues of importance to struggling Americans
- Voters might feel an urgency to actually be informed about candidates and issues before going to the polls
Mandatory Voting Cons
- The problem of voter ignorance might be exacerbated
- Big money in politics would still be influential through simplistic, often negative, political ad campaigns
What Do You Think About Mandatory Voting?
Would mandatory voter turnout actually change election results? Or would it reflect the same results percentage-wise, just with higher voter numbers?
To really take advantage of 100% voter turnout, do we need more diversity in high-quality candidates from which to choose?. So, does this take us back to grassroots political action and getting Big Money out of the political system?
It seems to come down to how well-informed voters are when they go to the polls. I mean, real information on the candidates and issues, not propaganda. How can objective, fact-based political information be disseminated to the general public with broad exposure and in a way that is easy-to-digest?
Surely there are more pros and cons than I have listed. What are your thoughts on mandatory voting?