Should The United States Make Voting Mandatory?

October 19, 2016

Dreamstime

Tonight (10.19.16) is the final Presidential debate as each candidate looks to earn your vote.  Not as prominent as the Presidential race are the 469 congressional seats up for election next month too.  Most of us will be happy once the campaigning is over with the general election always held on the Tuesday immediately after the first Monday in November, which is November 8th this year. It became a law and designed when farmers had to travel long distances to vote and needed to return for market on Wednesdays.  But in modern times, should voting happen on a weekend? Most of the world's elections are held on Sundays, with Australia and New Zealand on Saturdays, Canada on Monday and Great Britain on Thursday. Some changes may be in order as the United States was founded on an election system allowing the common person to have the same vote as nobility.  However we are not exercising our rights to their fullest.  In 2012 only 53.6% of eligible voters did so, placing the United States 31st out of the 35 nations that are highly developed, democratic nations.  That's compared to 87.2% voter turnout in Belgium and 80.5% in Australia.  But why the difference? One striking reason is that in Belgium, Australia and 15 other countries, it is mandatory for every of-age citizen to vote and if you skip the polls in Australia, you get a fine.  Making voting mandatory also has another effect, voters are more educated about the candidates and their platforms. Data collected from 47 counties found citizens with mandatory voting laws scored very well on political knowledge questions across all gender and educational backgrounds compared to countries that have weaker enforcement policies and laws regarding voting.

SOURCE: Quartz

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