Friday, March 20, 2015

Mandatory Voting?

The White House has since walked back on President Obama's suggestion that voting be mandatory in this country. We hear the outrage over low voter turnout time and again. Ironically, the vast majority of the complaints seem to be from those who think they would have won if only all the people who pay scant, if any, attention to politics voted.

I've wrote here more than once I don't care how many people show up to vote, so long as they vote as I do. Reason's Scott Shackford attacks the idea of mandatory voting from a different view:

"Casting a vote is speech. It is showing support or opposition to a candidate or proposal. Making voting mandatory means voting is no longer a right. It's an obligation.".

He's got a point but doesn't address how silly it would be to force people who have no idea what the issues are to vote. A guy who commented on Facebook wrote it best:

"Voting takes work and those who are not willing to invest the time are better left away from a ballot."


At 9:15 AM, Blogger Julie Timmons said...

Don't they have mandatory voting in Australia? I think it's a great idea.

At 9:22 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

If you'd read the Reason article, he explains that the U.S. system is nothing like Australia's. Among other things, they use proportional representation.

It makes absolutely no sense to have people vote when they haven't the slightest idea of what they're voting for. Unless, of course, you're hoping to capitalize on that ignorance.

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even the suggestion by the president shows he didnt pay very good attention in school and represents how bad the school he attended is. He is suposedly a constitutional scholar bu somehow he knows nothing about the americans choice not to vote is exercising his right to vote or NOT vote.The next big story is going to be that the federal government during obamas term has issued millions of voter registration cards to people without verifying they were citizens.

At 10:03 AM, Blogger Mitch Trachtenberg said...


Ignoring the obvious reason some people want mandatory voting (they think those who don't now vote would vote like they do), there may be good reasons for it.

First, I believe voting should be an obligation of citizenship, as long as you are offered the right to vote for nobody. We have forgotten, I believe, that being a citizen of a democracy carries obligations, not that I believe we are still citizens of a democracy.

Second, if someone realizes they have to vote, they are more likely to look into issues. Not everyone will, but some will.

And third, once you've performed the task of voting, I believe it will make you more interested and involved in the actions of those you voted for or against, even if you've chosen to vote for nobody.

It's pretty academic when the Koch Brothers and their hired social scientists and ad-buyers can simply buy national elections, or shift the results by many percentage points in the states where things would otherwise be close.

At 10:20 AM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"... when the Koch Brothers and their hired social scientists and ad-buyers can simply buy national elections,..."

Point me to one election they bought. Seems we've had a democrat win the last two times.

And, no, people aren't likely to pay more attention to politics and vote accordingly if forced to do so. Oh, maybe a relative handful will, but most who vote now don't pay much attention to elections except for whether someone has a D or R in front of their name.

Even if they want to vote for "nobody". That's contrary to the way things are moving. As Shackford pointed out in his Reason piece, we're moving more towards just having two choices. You'd be hard pressed to show me how that's going to be any different. It will be less likely to have more choices in the future than more.

At 10:26 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I believe voting is not only a benefit of being a citizen but also a responsibility. That being said there is a possibility if you force people to vote they may just vote for anything as a protest to being forced to do it. Not voting can also be a vote in the sense they are protesting the process... High time the US had more than just two major political parties though!

At 10:38 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Plus we should make one of the houses of Congress a "Citizens Legislature" as proposed by the late Ernest Callenbach. Briefly, such a legislature would be made up of citizens chosen similar to jury service. Each would earn the salary and benefits as legislators do now, but could decline if such service would create hardships. Callenbach wrote the book "Citizen Legislature" in the late 80s and may still be available.

At 12:23 PM, Blogger MOLA:42 said...

I believe in the case of Australia, one is fined if one fails to show up at the polls. One is not obligated to fill in the ballot, just hand it in.

I do believe in the theory of citizen responsibility. Thus I get rather depressed when I'm called for jury duty and see the effort and energy others put into trying to get out of it.

The problem is that relatively few citizens want to be responsible for what the US has become.

As for the Koch Brothers... I can't name a specific election they "bought" but on the other hand, saying there is a Democrat President in office does not prove the point that they don't.

The Koch Brothers are literally everywhere and hide their activities behind right wing groups they finance (and presumably) control.

Those groups work on state and even local levels and not all of them are easily identified as Koch Brother creations.

At 1:02 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"The Koch Brothers are literally everywhere and hide their activities behind right wing groups they finance (and presumably) control.Those groups work on state and even local levels"

Quite honestly, I don't see it. Seems to me the Left, most of it leaning pretty strong authoritarian (aren't they the ones that want mandatory voting?), is taking over the country. Granted, we live in California, but I see little Right Wing victory elsewhere.

Seems to me sometimes "the Right" wins, but most often they don't. I don't know that you can point to anything that shows the Koch's buying elections.

At 2:00 PM, Blogger MOLA:42 said...


Google "Americans for Prosperity."

And... Have you looked at a Red State/Blue State map of the United States lately?

It might be solid blue in our little corner of heaven, but the interior of our great land looks mighty red.

Your notion that the liberals are running this country is a tad overstated.

But I can see your problem... you overlooked that both Houses of Congress are now dominated by the Right.

At 2:44 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"But I can see your problem... you overlooked that both Houses of Congress are now dominated by the Right."

For now, yes. Are you saying that's the Koch's doing, cause I don't think so.

At 2:51 PM, Blogger MOLA:42 said...


Entirely? No.

But they aren't the only Neo-Fascist billionaires out there.

Remember: Money talks because it is a person. The Supreme Court says so.

Weren't we talking about Mandatory Voting? To circle back to the subject: The Koch Brothers are behind restrictive voter ID laws in over 30 states.

They would agree with you... not everybody should vote. Just their reasons why are different.

At 7:09 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

"But they aren't the only Neo-Fascist billionaires out there".

Yeah, you gotta hate them. One of their latest endeavors being supporting the mandatory minimum federal penalties for drug offenses. Damn fascists.

At 7:10 PM, Blogger Fred Mangels said...

Excuse me. I meant ENDING the mandatory minimum federal drug penalties.


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