Thursday, October 05, 2006

What would a mandatory turnout mean for parties?

In an article by Wattenberg, Where have all the Voters Gone? (article), he discusses reasons for the United States' low turnout. One simple suggestion to this problem is to require people to participate. They do it in Austraila and achieve up to 93% voting rates.

There are many issues that would have to be addressed before it would be a reality in the US, one of them being if it would hold up in the Supreme Court with charges against the First Amendment, but I am wondering what this would do effect political parties.

I would think that a focus would be more on education rather than mobilization of the electorate. To the politically illiterate in this country, there would be the problem of, what they call down under a "donkey vote." This is just hap-hazardly voting for anyone because of lack of knowledge or lack of concern. This would indefinately be an issue for the United States given our ballots are harder than some standardized tests.

It seems to me that a mandatory vote would help out the Democratic party. In theory only, I guess. Reasoning only being that the educated and wealthy are already casting their votes at a much higher level and tend to be more conservative. If 93% of the nation would vote, where would the extra 40% of the votes go?

I think this is would be a good thing for turnout. It would be a total shift in the political culture as a whole. Campaigns, parties, and policy would be forced to changed as people would be forced to vote.


At 12:19 PM, Blogger m tofias said...

Interesting points. One hears, mostly unsuported blather, all the time about how if more people voted Democrats would be advantaged. But I am interested in your idea that the campaigns themselves would change, that they would be more about competition over issues than shock value mobilization.

At 10:28 AM, Blogger Tracy Holmes said...

Good article and post. I have often wondered too what it would be like if we had mandatory voting here in the United States. With a large percentage of the population being uninformed and only so many in the informed or elite categories it would be interesting, if not scary; to see what kind of government the populace would select.


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