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Author Topic: mandatory voting  (Read 3234 times)
Johnny Roastbeef
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« on: March 19, 2015, 10:10 am »

Obama made headlines today for suggesting that mandatory voting might benefit the US. It seems like a good idea to me, but I'm curious if some of the Aussies (or others with it in place) can share their thoughts since they actually live with it.
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« Reply #1 on: March 19, 2015, 10:33 am »

Can we also have the popular vote?
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Lukeington
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« Reply #2 on: March 19, 2015, 10:54 am »

I've written papers on this topic. I won't explain the Australian situation in too much detail since someone from there would probably be able to do it better. Interesting to note there though is that you can provide pretty well any tangibly valid excuse for not voting and they'll accept it (car broke down, wasn't feeling well, etc.) Otherwise you get a small fine.

It's been suggested in Canada too.

The question is whether it translates to increased civic participation and/or informed citizens. I don't think it necessarily does. I do posit that it'd incentivize political trends towards more populist policies & platforms.

There's also an argument that lower voter turn-out is a good thing because it can suggest that voters are generally satisfied and the country is relatively stable, so they don't feel the need to invoke political change. But as an outside observer I don't think this would apply to the states, since faith in congress and the political system is so damn low.
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Johnny Roastbeef
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« Reply #3 on: March 19, 2015, 12:38 pm »

Anecdotally, I suspect low turnout is as likely to be based on a feeling of practical disenfranchisement as anything else. Few people seem to feel that the government represents them in any way even when they do vote, given that it's basically made up of millionaire white guys regardless of which party you vote for. Family members of mine have also expressed the sentiment that the parties are indistinguishable when it comes to practical impacts on the middle class, so who cares which group of jerks screw the middle class over.
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Lukeington
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« Reply #4 on: March 19, 2015, 04:08 pm »

Well, they're not wrong. I'm not a fan of how the american congressional system has worked out since inception.
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Skeletonic
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« Reply #5 on: March 19, 2015, 04:46 pm »

As an American voter, my worry would be that mandatory voting would create a push for more programs that inhibit certain citizen's ability to vote in the first place, the racist bullshit that is meant to prevent "voter fraud" now turned to delisting potential voters on the back end.

I have no idea if that's a thing that could happen, but fears are sometimes unfounded.

One thing I've always wanted is a designated Voting Day treated like a national holiday where everyone can plan to go out and vote as opposed to having to schedule a potential voting trip around an existing work schedule. Maybe also waive public transit fees on those days, I dunno, I'm not a science thinking man.

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Karlski
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« Reply #6 on: March 19, 2015, 04:58 pm »

It also helps that our federal and state elections are always held on a Saturday so there's less issue with working around work schedules, and that we have a single government body, the Australian Electoral Commission, that oversees elections at all levels and maintains voter rolls.

Thing is, though, our electoral experiences are quite different from yours in a bunch of ways, so pointing to one particular factor and trying to tease out its impact without the other confounding factors is going to be difficult at best.

I will add that one benefit of the compulsory vote is that we don't have the parties doing those noxious get out the vote initiatives.

Incidentally the fine for not voting without a valid excuse is pretty minimal, like twenty bucks or so. And you don't have to vote for anyone; the only thing you're required to do is turn up, get your voting slip, and drop it in the box.
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