Mandatory voting has been the buzz of social media of late, owing to the President’s comments that it could result in a transformation of American politics.
If you believe a law requiring citizens to cast a vote will make us better, more responsible and informed, you are misinformed.
Assuming the government could effectively enforce such a law – which is very doubtful – do you think once the person enters the voting booth he or she will spend more than a few seconds in deliberation? It is likely a blank ballot will be returned. Some would be returned with a vote against the party that supported the law. That’s about as much critical analysis as might occur.
That runs contrary to the assumption that the policy would help liberal Democrats. In the words of the President, “The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minorities… There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”
The truth is, there are many voters who just do not care.
Look in our own backyard where our local elections rarely produce more than a 20% turnout. The stay-at-home set obviously cuts across all segments of the county and city, or we would be see much higher participation.
I have been active in local politics for over ten years and I can tell you that most people I meet, including a few who claim to have an interest in civic affairs, cannot name their officials nor distinguish the roles of the various levels of representation.
Perhaps had mandatory voting been a requirement when the Constitution was ratified, we may have seen a tradition of widespread participation take root. Of course, the right to vote was very restrictive in those days. You would think in view of that, high voter turnout would have become the norm as restrictions were eliminated.
For a great example as to why mandatory voting will not increase meaningful participation, you only need to go back to when eighteen-year olds were granted the right to vote. According to an insightful article in the Washington Post, there was a spike at first, but as the newly-minted voters reached their twenties, their turnout resembled the rest of the country’s. So much for roots.
Not voting is as much a right as voting.
We are horses who should not be forced to drink if we are not thirsty.