Non Compulsory Voting Essay

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Compulsory Voting Essay

Industrial Countries all over the world have seen a steady decline in voter participation; Great Britain is a great example of this. The country has witness turnout in elections falling slowly as time pass. However, the election of 2001 dropped the country from their average of 76% voter turnout to just a 59.4% turnout. Comparatively, Australia, a former colony of Britain, has enjoyed high and steady voter participation since 1924 because of the implementation of compulsory voting. This system has proven to be not only effective in bring voters to the polls, but also effective in improving Australia’s democracy. By evaluating these two countries with similar political structure; one can see the difference in compulsory voting turnouts compared to voluntary voting turnout. Furthermore, if Britain were to follow Australia’s example, would the country see the same positive effects of compulsory voting in their democracy?
Australia is a Constitutional Monarch with Queen Elizabeth II of Great Britain as head of state. Politically the country is structured after the British and American model as a liberal democracy. The constitution created in 1901 “gives the Federal Government power over defense, foreign affairs, trade and commerce, taxation, customs and excise duties, pensions, immigration and postal services while other powers are held by the states” (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). Furthermore, Australia consist a lower and upper house. The lower house, the House of Representatives, holds 150 members each elected in for a three-year term (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). The upper house, the Senate, holds 76 members who have been directly elected through proportional representation for a six-year term (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). On the contrary, the governor-general (on the advice of the prime minister) appoints the Cabinet members. However, it is not constitutionally recognized as a legal entity, therefore, giving its decisions no legal force.
The main parties of Australia are: the Labour Party, Liberal Party, National Party, and the Australian Democrats; these parties are voted in through a preferential system of voting (“Australia’s Political Structure,” 2011). All citizens over the age of 18 are required to vote for these parties because of compulsory voting (adopted in 1924). Australia followed many other democracies on there decision to implement compulsory voting during the 1920s. However, the country unusually added mandatory voting without other previsions (Birch, 2009). Australia was able to do so because of several strong factors supporting the measure.
The left (the Labour Party) had already used a form of social compulsion through trade unions getting their supporters to the polls. Bring in compulsory voting would rectify this imbalance between the left and the right votes (Birch, 2009). Furthermore, voters would no longer be in a position to demand transportation to the polls producing lower...

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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.


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