In any established democracy, official representatives are elected if they receive a majority of the public vote. The public has the collective power to decide which representative best meets the needs of the people, giving the public the power to influence the course of their nation. There is no political structure that suits everyone’s demands, and despite the high levels of fairness generally associated with the democratic system, not everyone is inclined to vote, and in many countries there is no legal requirement to vote.
However in some nations, including Australia, Mexico and Brazil, voting is mandatory and enforced. This is known as ‘mandatory’ or ‘compulsory’ voting. There are many opponents of compulsory voting, who cite things such as the social tension and friction caused in societies where compulsory voting is in force. There are however many proponents of compulsory voting – this essay shall break down four of the main arguments that support compulsory voting, with a focus on the positive outcomes that may come about as a result of it.
Improving Social Access to the Vote
In a society where voting is mandatory, all people of all socioeconomic backgrounds are on the same level. Under normal circumstances where voting is a choice, studies have found that people who are socially disadvantaged are less likely to vote, while the opposite has been found to be true for people who are not. This is not due to any relationship between socioeconomic status and voter apathy, but simply the increased number of barriers that people of lower socioeconomic status face – it could be something as simple as not being able to drive to the polls on the day of the vote.
A fair spread of votes is one when people from all levels of society are able to cast their votes, and this means that the elected will be a truer representation of the wish of the nation. Efforts are often made by public bodies to reach as much as the electorate as possible, but regardless of the efforts made, if voting is not mandatory then it is not easy to detect who in society is being barred from their right to vote. But under the mandatory system it becomes much easier to see who is being restricted from placing their vote. The authorities can then take the necessary steps to improve the situation.
Encouraging Participation in Politics
If the citizen must vote, then the citizen will likely spend time to actually research the politics and the orientations and attitudes of the political candidates. Given that they must vote anyway, there is always the chance that they will take an interest in the subject. On voting day each citizen may still choose to cast a blank vote, but it is more likely for any engaged member of society to study the candidates and the parties and then cast a real vote. Strong political participation is the foundation of a successful democracy, and mandatory voting is one way to achieve it.