Would America be a true democracy if everyone voted?
This week President Obama proposed some food for thought. He said mandatory voting would cure the disease of money influencing politics. The president stated,
“If everyone voted, it would completely change the political map in this country. Because the people who tend not to vote are young, lower income, immigrant and minority groups. There's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls when we should be getting them to the polls.”
Obama’s opinion is not unwarranted. As Mic.Com pointed out, if you look at Australia as an example—which made voting mandatory on the federal level in 1924—you’ll see that the country has only benefited from compulsory voting.
“From 1919 to 1922, voter participation dropped from 71% to 60%. But just one year after the new law was introduced, citizens came out to the polls in droves — in 1925, voter turnout was over 91%. Since then, Australian voter turnout has never dipped below 90%.”
An Australian professor of politics who contributed to the New York Times in 2011, backed this point up further by stating,
“Places with mandatory voting have less wealth inequality, lower levels of political corruption and higher levels of satisfaction with the way democracy is working than voluntary systems. In Australia, where we love freedom as much as anyone else, we have a mandatory voting regime that is well managed, corruption-free, easy to access, cheap to run and has an approval rating of more than 70 percent.”
Before you criticize the president’s suggestion, really think about what he is saying. We currently have mandatory civic duties such as paying taxes, attending jury duty, and going to school. So mandatory voting wouldn’t really be that big of a stretch.
While some argue that forcing people to vote would take away one’s right not to vote, one could technically pay a small $15 fee and skip the polls if they really wanted to. But if everyone voted, policies would start reflecting the interests of the voters rather than the corporations that fund elections. And while money will likely never disappear from politics altogether, people will at least have a fair chance to make politics work for them. They would be forced to hold representatives accountable for serving the public and in turn representatives would be forced to actually serve the public.
In our current system, we have low voter turnout and an incredibly biased pool of representatives from which we can only choose the lesser of the evils.
What do you vigilant readers think about this issue? Do you think voting should be mandatory? Would it get rid of corporate influence in politics and make America a true democracy? Could it end the reign of dynasties and monarchies?
If you're not sure, check out Jesse Ventura in the video below where he talks about the dangers of choosing the lesser of two evils.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC its affiliates, or its employees.
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