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March 20, 2015

Mandatory voting is, quite possibly, one of the worst ideas ever

This week, I was quite surprised to learn from my Facebook newsfeed that quite a few on the left are excited about the notion of mandatory voting for American citizens (at least, I assume they're wanting this just for the citizens).  My gut reaction is that this is, quite possibly, one of the worst ideas ever presented as a solution to the phenomenon of low voter participation.

Before explaining why I believe this, I should note that this erupted into the news this week because our Dear Leader just endorsed the notion.  Yahoo! News, March 18:
Obama floated the idea of mandatory voting in the U.S. while speaking to a civic group in Cleveland on Wednesday. Asked about the corrosive influence of money in U.S. elections, Obama digressed into the related topic of voting rights and said the U.S. should be making it easier — not harder— for people to vote.

Just ask Australia, where citizens have no choice but to vote, the president said.

"If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country," Obama said, calling it potentially transformative.
Yes, it would be grand if citizens took seriously their civic responsibility to participate in our democratic institutions.  So, why don't they?  The president's speech encapsulates the reasons that I usually see proffered by the Left:
Not only that, Obama said, but universal voting would "counteract money more than anything."

Disproportionately, Americans who skip the polls on Election Day are younger, lower-income and more likely to be immigrants or minorities, Obama said. "There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls," he said in a veiled reference to efforts in a number of Republican-led states to make it harder for people to vote.
Yikes!  So...anywhere from a half to two-thirds of voting-age citizens are informed, motivated folks who are systematically kept away from the polls by Republican voter-suppression efforts.


Forcing these 50%+ of voting-age citizens to the polls won't turn them into informed, motivated voters.  Any person who takes a half-serious look at human nature should be able to conclude two things: (1) These uninformed, unmotivated folks will look for the easiest way to avoid the failure-to-vote penalty (most likely a fine); and (2) The informed, motivated folks (both left and right) will be ready to help the uninformed, unmotivated folks discharge their duties in the most expedient way possible.

"Just tell me who to vote for, okay?"

This will come down to a contest of which ideological tribe can get the most apathetic sheep to the polls.  The Left's giddiness about the mandatory voting proposal is evidence enough that progressives believe that they would win that contest.

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