It’s not like Americans have ever voted in huge numbers. Our watershed election this century? Not Obama’s, in 2008. Or even Ronald Reagan’s, in 1980. It was 1960. The dramatic election between Richard Nixon and John F. Kennedy drew just 64 percent of eligible voters. In 2008, turnout was about 61.7 percent. Some say that’s deplorable. So how do you get more Americans to vote? Why not try what they do in Australia – make voting mandatory? There, if you don't cast a ballot, you get slapped with a big, fat fine.
William Galston, from the Brookings Institution political think tank, believes voting ought to be a mandatory civic duty. “When you get a notice to show up for jury duty, that's not an invitation, that's a polite requirement,” Galston says. “And if you don't show up, then various sorts of problems occur for you as a matter of law.” While elections officials have tried to increase voter turnout by offering early voting, or enabling people to register at the DMV– they've only managed to increase turnout by one or two percentage points. Not great when you look at the numbers: In 1962–almost 50 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots in the midterm elections. In 1986, 38 per cent voted. In 2006: turnout was 40 percent. If people don't vote because they're lazy - then why not force them to perform their civic duty?
Conservative columnist Debra J. Saunders of the San Francisco Chronicle cites California's ballot pamphlet as a strike against mandatory voting. It's thick with candidate choices and tax propositions - complicated stuff, she says. “I know it sounds great to say that we'd like to have 100 percent voting in the United States but when you look at the reality, if people aren't paying attention, I don't know that you want to have them voting on really complicated issues,” Saunders says. Voting in America isn't likely to become mandatory any time soon - as one election official told us - it would be un-American. Just like others say it's un-American to stay home on Election Day.
Maybe more people would vote if they though the candidate represented the voters, rather than their politcal parties. Respect for Congress is at an all time low, so why would we be motivated to put the same party loyalists back in?
Why vote for which of 2 persons whose loyalty is greatest to their party. Or else they would not be presented. The difference between the two is usually media presentation. More people might vote if they could reject candidates and demand others. Why not increase democracy in the USA? Let us vote on any law passed by congress after we have it for 5 years. No approval no law!
If we could just have all the votes from those citizens who are too lazy to vote!
Is this really what the USA needs?
Mandatory voting? really? You want the government to take away another freedom of choice.
Our nanny says we must vote, our nanny says we must buy health insurance, our nanny says we must pay into bankrupt social security, our nanny says we must use squiggly chemical filled light bulbs instead of safe traditional ones?
Where does it stop? I am an adult and I don't need a nanny telling me how to live my life. The government's sole purpose is to protect our natural born liberties from those who wish to take or abuse them, not abuse them itself.
This issue may seem like no big deal, but it is, because its about a principle: the principle of freedom of choosing how to live your own life as long as your choices don't directly harm others.
People say voting is a privilege.Voting is not a privileged its a right.....a right to choose your governments. A privilege is something granted by government.....a right is something that belongs to you from birth and can't morally be taken away from you by government.
I am not necessarily against mandatory voting as long as I have the option to "vote" for no one.
Also, if the banking industry is secure enough for me to manage my money online, why can't the government institute voting via the Internet, which will increase the availability and convenience for all Americans.
Those who don't vote should be banned from posting their political ideology. You had your chance to speak by casting your vote. I say those who don't vote are lesser citizens (like convicted felons) and should be treated as such.
@ Pauly ... once again you misstate facts. The GOP hasn't filibustered ANYTHING in years for lack of votes according to a report on CNN last week.
Ralph, and NOT all college graduates have any smarts. You just proved it in your last comments, when you should have said "known" vice "know".
As a matter of fact, serving in the military should give you more of a right to vote.
In the military we call that "attention to detail", and obviously, you as a
"college graduate" don't have "attention to detail".
As far as your comment about most military personnel don't have intelligence, let's hear from ALL veterans about Ralph's comments.
Do you have intelligence? I know I do.
Ralph, if it wasn't for veterans, ignorant people like you wouldn't have the voice to speak negatively about our true heroes.
GOD BLESS ALL VETERANS!!
@AA, I have explained it to you before. Since the Dems took control of Congress, the GOP has been filibustering almost everything. Now it takes 60 votes to even get legislation to a debate. This is not what our founding fathers had in mind when they only required a simple majority for passage of legislation!!!
Would mandatory voting really change anything? Whether it's a 40% turnout or an 80% turnout, either a Democrat or a Republican is getting elected. Hence, no change at all. All that would do is provide our elected officials with an even greater sense of entitlement and an excuse to do whatever they want without consulting us AT ALL!
Democrats aren't running away from Obama?.....lol.. Then CNN is broadcasting lies?.....lol... Some people are so biased that can't face reality when it hits them in the face.
All of the usual reasons for not voting have merit, but I think that a feeling of disenfranchisement and disillusionment are the biggest contributor, summed up like this:
I think I heard this first from Penn Jillette, and I think he credited a Marx brother (calm down, everyone; Marx as in Groucho, not Karl) . I believe he called it the "Three Stooges Effect": Mo gives Curly the choice between two fingers, but it doesn't matter WHICH one he picks, because he gets poked in the eye, either way!
Why even have an election? The media has been forcing poll after poll down our throats for a long time now. They have almost "projected" winners in several races already. Yet, if they really believe their polls, why aren't they giving much credence to the one released yesterday that showed a 3rd of Americans are still undecided? Maybe because if that poll is correct, they would have to throw out all the other polls & their predictions.
I find it hard to believe that so many are still undecided this close to the elections. But if these people are just not saying how they are going to vote, it still has to raise questions. You can't predict anything if a 3rd of the populations isn't saying how they are going to vote.
I have voted a few times, and I have regretted it every time. Several of the candidates I voted for either disappeared from the scene or didn't win .. or they won and were dispicable in office. I have tried to keep up with politics and politicians, but issues and people get so off-track that I have figured out that POLITICIANS LIE TO GET INTO OFFICE AND THEN LIE TO GET OUT OF OFFICE! .... Until that changes, if the "if you don't vote fee" is only going to be $20 bucks, send me the bill!
~~ Love your work Carol !
In Illinois we are forced to once again hold our noses and vote between two unattractive choices for Obama's old Senate seat. As Debra mentioned, for our vote to truly reflect our opinion we need a "None of the above", else our forced vote endorses politicians and policies we truly don't want. When the major parties continue to present only repugnant choices then how can they expect us to vote for them, forced or not.
Corruption in Illinois is so endemic to the process that apathy is actually a reasonable choice. Don't force me to vote for another Blagoyavich, I would like to keep a small splinter of self respect.
It's not whether we vote or not. I will vote next week with the three top offices (Governor, US Senator, & US Congressperson) that has three lousy professional politicians running against three unqualified and off-the-wall challengers. I wish there were a "none of the above" option for all elective offices so that I could truly express my sentiments.
Dan, I don't think that makes you at all qualified to vote. Most people who go into the military are not know for their intelligence. An informed electorate will obviously hurt the Republicans more than the Dems.
I'm conflicted about mandatory voting. Australia considers voting to be a duty, not a privilege, and requires everyone to vote. The incredibly uninformed, anti-intellectual, views and attitudes exhibited by members of the current Tea Party movement make me wonder if everyone SHOULD be allowed to vote, much less required to do so.
voting is A CHOICE as an american right !! is this just another thing the people in CONTROLL are going to take away from us ? . AMERICANS do not vote because they have been decieved by politicians for some time now and ARE TIRED OF IT !!!! my opinion is the people running are for themselves and not the people of this country !!!
When it comes to voting, I vote on every electionand have been since I was of voting age. However i think more would vote if the idea of "one man one vote" were true. with the electorial college I feel that a lot of people feel as if their vote doesn't matter. Let's face it, when a person can win the popular vote and lose an election, something is wrong with our system. Alos, mandatory voting would help eliminate a good amount of apathy, but would not remove our real problem. Enact campaign finance reform and people would feel that our candidates were true representatvies of the people, not corporate interest
Not the American Way! But a suggestion, how about eliminating the electoral college? You know your vote won't count if you are a minority when the opposing party had gerrymandered your district, so why bother?
I see no reason to vote. The candidates are all in it for their own advancement. Why should I promote one or the other.
This is not an excuse for not voting, but the ballot systems/voting machines can't handle the number of votes coming in now. How is it going to handle a possibly much larger turnout?
We shouldn't make more lazy people vote; we should give them a real reason for voting. Why not really change things up? Only those who volunteer for 2 minimum years in the unarmed or armed services earn a franchise - a stake in the government - and thus the right to vote. Voting is right, but not all rights are free. More volunteers means, more blending of society, and more people leaving the slums, and more isolated ivory leagues understanding real people. The country might become a family again.
Mandatory voting is not practical. To assure voter competency, we'd likely have to establish some form of voter competency test. I personally do not think people who are far removed from actual awareness of the real issues maybe should not vote. But in our nation now most appear to vote either red or blue without any consideration of the issues of the day. So sad, isn't it?
I believe mandatory voting should become law but only if a number of precautions are taken first:
1) One standard voting machine nationwide
2) Outcome based upon the popular vote – only
3) Extreme ballot security measures (how will the government track who has voted and who has not, yet have no means to track how we voted?)
4) Presidental and Congressional elections NOT limited to a two party system – write in must be included
I take offense ot the comments that people are lazy and therefore dont vote. I often do not vote because the candidates are not worthy of my vote. The TV campaign ads have become nothing but mud slinging about opponants. The candidate say they are going to do what ever they think the public wants to hear but never say how they will implement these promises. Finding out the truth about candidates is also hard to find in order to make an informed decision. There is also a portion of society that is not cabable of thinking beyond the smear campaigns and take everything they hear to be the truth rather than thinking through the reality of the ads. (ex. one FL candidate is being blamed for the housing market, and stock market in FL. Hardly think she had any control in the matter.)
Want to motivate people to vote? Try taking the privilege AWAY from them. That is, SUSPEND their right to vote if they don't exhibit a record of having exercised it. I know Constitutionally this would never fly....but, implementing a little reverse psychology tends to get things moving that may otherwise be stuck in the mud.
As an American that lived in Australia for 2.5 years, I can tell you that mandatory voting is a terrible idea. It forces the poorest members of the community to vote for candidates when they are not educated about the issues, and with a minor fine like $20 that the middle and upper class can afford it just singles out the economically deprived members of society yet again.
As a young person, I didn't live through a time when women and African Americans were not allowed to vote, but I can only imagine how frustrating this concept must be to those that once were not allowed the privilege of voting. Voting is not a requirement in a democratic country, it's a privilege!
I propose the exact opposite. I would like to see a basic exam administered to everyone before they are allowed to vote. Voters should at least know the basic issues and where each candidate stands before they are given the privilege of casting their vote!
@Pauly .. will you ever learn to quit blaming the GOP when the fault and condition of the country is due to BOTH parties? Fact is the GOP hasn't blocked anything for lack of votes and the Democrats have had control for 3 or 4 years and still nothing has changed. When are you and the Democrats going to take responsibility for the actions you do? At what point do the Democrats man up and quit trying to lay the blame elsewhere? Your constant spewing only shows your extreme bias for what it truly is.
I have already voted, the problem is that there are no good candidates to vote for. There are two primaries in this country. The first one is with the corporations and rich donors, and they decide who is worthy to run. If a candidate can make the corporations happy, they will give them money and air time. So by the time a primary gets to us, the good candidates have already lost, and only big business is left to run. I voted because I did not want to be looked at as apathetic. But I wrote in people who were not running, like my 5 year old son, who would probably do a better job than the people in office anyway...
Why not do what they offer school kids in NY. Pay for performance. Offer $10 to come and vote.
This country was launched because of taxes. Forcing people to vote will probably not work but giving them a $200 tax refund will catch their attention. But Congress will also have to vote on this...no tax refund for them though.
It could be "un-American".. but I think it could be patriotic.
We all have the right to vote, but its a privilege that not enough practice and many take for granted.
I think: if you vote you have a voice, if you don't then you don't have a right to claim.
Rather than go to a polling place; when will we be able to use our personal portable devices to cast our political votes?
If you want higher turn out for elections offer a free gift. Americans like free stuff. I am dead serious. Look how KFC was put into disarray over a free grilled chicken coupon. Whyu do you think infomercials always have something free as a bonus? Americans like free stuff. We might not get 100% turnout but with free gifts we can double it. Seriously.......just think about it.
Caprio didn't run from an Obama endorsement. He had a hissy fit after he was notified that he wasn't going to get an endorsement from the President.
On the other hand, the GOP has run from Bush/Cheney during the last 2 election cycles. This despite them praising the policies of that administration. The same policies that they blindly supported & which led this country into the mess we're in now. The GOP went so far as to get Bush to delay the release of his memoirs until further after the elections.
Sen Mict McConnell said the other day that the most important goal for the GOP is to limit this President to one term. This has been obvious to many since before the President even took office but now they have admitted their ultimate goal. They have blocked so many bills that would have helped small business & the middle class in an effort to regain power. America can't afford 2 more years of their shenanigans.
The goal for both parties should be to get this country back on track. Unfortunately, the GOP has blocked and/or succeeded in watering down bills to help the unemployed, uninsured, homeless vets, states & small business. It never was about putting the country first!!!
So Ralph, if only college grads were to vote, what are you saying about the rest of us? I am NOT a college graduate.
I probably know a lot more about the candidates / issues than college grads.
A little about me. I retired from the US Navy after serving honorably for 20 years. I went to Iraq for a year as a contractor, and I am now a Civil Service employee, very successful.
So, I think your comment about only "college grads" vote was quite ludicrous.
It is not a surprise that some politician comes up with another crazy scheme to give the Gov. more control, that will cost a fortune to administer, collect money from those least able to pay, and have another 'program' that just does not work.
Travelers make up a large part of the tax paxers in our country. Illinois is my home state In 5 years were lucky to have spent 6 months in Illinois. My husbands job requires he travels 365 days a year and while weve covered the east coast the west coast its very seldom that we ever get anywhere near Illinois. Ive asked travelers if they vote and the answer is normally the same NO. The reasons being 1) they are not in their home state to do so 2) If they vote they might get called for jury duty and they dont care where you are working if you get called for jury duty they expect you to be there. 3) Why bother with the electoral votes it doesnt matter how the American people vote our government does what they want.
A comment was made on your program about uninformed people voting. Since politicians never give us yes and no answers how can we be anything but uninformed. Voting anymore in our country is about picking the lesser of two evils or the lesser of two liars. Lets make them take all other issues but what are they going to do for us off the table. Yes and No answers only by all candidates.
When will we be able to vote via mobile phone or internet? Rather than standing in line at a polling place.
OK Mandatory Voting.
So far from listening to the report I don't vote because I'm lazy and uninformed.
Now let me tell ypu whu I dont vote.
Voting is a privilege that should not be taken lightly.
My vote is worth too much to waste on unqualified candidates.
By not voting you send a message that the status quo is not acceptable.
If the populus is really fed up ith incumbants and washington then why do they vote on more of the same?
Send a message by not voting. YOUR NOT WORTH MY VOTE!
So to answer the question, no your vote doesent count, when you can only vote for the candidates the system wants you to vote for.
I E 2000 election Gore won popular vote but yet Bush was installed in office anyway and being a Floridian I was disgusted by the way this state
blantantly manipulated the election. Your vote will not count till there is true campaign reform. Until then we will continue to live with blinders on thinking this is a true democracy. LOL
WAKE UP AMERICA!!!!!!!
I like the idea of mandatory voting. I am a Democrat and I think that those on the right will be very against this as they are always trying to supress the vote. Like that woman from California just said, "This stuff is very complicated. I don't THEM voting on this." There would not be the necessity of the 'get out the vote' effort.. I like it!
in pennsylvania if you are not dem , or rep, you don't get a vote in primary, that means i'ld have to vote for someone elses choice. untill political parties are dissmantled or primary elections are reconstructed to a fair oppertunity for everyone, no matter of their party affiliation, i'll pay the fine before i vote red ,or blue
I am for Mandatory Voting so long as Election Days are also mandatory holidays that way people can be off work and get to the polls to vote. The biggest reason I hear most from people where I live for why they don't go and vote is because they have to work, they forget that it is election day until often its too late because the polls have closed. If it was a mandatory holiday, more people would be home and able to enjoy the day. It would also help if elections were held at the same time. It gets confusing for people when there is federal elections one day, a State election another, a county election another, city elections another, school board elections another, etc. It is just easier for people to know what day they need to vote and setting all those days the same so that way the mandatory holidays can be planned by businesses as well as people. I've worked with my State's election board, been a worker at the polls, and as a young person I was surprised at how low the turnout is in elections, I was really expecting more. Maybe it is because my grandparents always reminded me of what a great opportunity it is to live in the US and the importance of doing my civic duty: voting, jury duty, helping the election board, being involved in community organizations, helping others get to the polls to vote, registering voters, staying informed of what is happening in government, creating or participating in government through petitions, referendums, etc. I realize now that even most people my age don't seem to have that kind of upbringing emphasizing civic duty, neither do those older than me or younger. I would love more people to be involved in the processes... voting, forming/signing petitions, etc. Plus, when you think about it...if every person has to vote and they have the time off to get to the polls to vote, politicians are much more likely to pay attention to all of us instead of just certain demographics that are known for turning out to the polls better than some other demographic. Suddenly politicians would care about what all of us have to say and wouldn't pander to just a small group of people....they couldn't if they wanted to stay in office because more than that small group of people would be voting. Maybe then there wouldn't have to be groups form of angry citizens tired of being ignored by government. Maybe then politicians would take those angry citizens a little more seriously if it got to that point. So I favor mandatory voting provided it also includes making election days mandatory holidays.
I studied abroad in Australia last year and actually discussed mandatory voting with some locals. For the younger generation, it's just part of government, it's what they've always had to do. Mandatory voting would make Americans angry at first, but I think eventually it would become part of the norm and would increase political awareness in even the most average of Americans. Of course, if you made voting mandatory you would have to be able to bring the voting more to us. Some people wouldn't be able to get to a voting center and would be fined for lack of transportation. Definitely something to consider.
I don't vote. I won't vote. It's enough that I am forced to pay US taxes though I live (and have so for 35 years) overseas. I receive no benefits from the country & clearly receive nothing from the politicians elected. I am a citizen because I was born in the US, otherwise I have no connectivity to the place whatsoever.
Mandatory voting...get real!
Mandatory voting is not healthy for democracy. Otherwise, the people who have no idea or just couldn't care less about politics would most likely vote and that's not good.
We don't need more voters, we need more educated and informed voters. If you don't care enough to vote, you are unlikely to be informed of the issues anyway, and the country is better off without your vote. Mandatory voting would only increase the number of voters who will vote the way someone or some organization tells them to vote.
Mandatory: NO. Change how votes count: YES. My wife doesn't vote for president because the electoral college is outdated. Her vote doesn't count in that if her candidate loses by 5,000 votes, he loses state votes. We don't use horses and buggies anymore, so our representation is immediate (sort of). Also, majority should win, even if it is 45% republican, 40% democrat and 15% other. Republicans win or whomever has the most. TIME FOR A CHANGE IN ELECTION RULES
How about a campaign to DISCOURAGE voting by people who admit that they're not sure about the candidates or the complicated issues. As Carol's piece suggests, we don't really want voters who are guessing or misinformed. People who don't spend a minimum of 30 minutes per day reading about the complex issues do not have informed opinions.
Tongue-in-cheek question: Should one have to pass a Current Events test before being allowed to vote?
Could it be that half of Americans are too obese to make it to the polls and voting booths are too small to accomodate them were they to get there anyway?
This is one of the dumbest ideas I"ve heard yet. There are too many people who vote now that have no grasp of the issues. If it were up to me, only college grads would be allowed to vote.
If yes, then there should be a "none of the above" choice.
Average American: Unfortunately, this nation voted for "change" (not I) 2 years ago.
Just to show how ignorant people were about this election: The city I live in, there was a 101 yr old African American lady. The 2008 general election was the FIRST time she ever voted in her life. Now, it doesn't take a college scholar or rocket scientist to figure out who she voted for.
The change was we voted this man in on the color of his skin, not his credentials. Unfortunate.
Mandatory voting would just be another avenue for the government to bud into peoples business. And yes I don't vote since it does not matter who is in office since nothing get's done that benefits anyone.
Could the Democrats run away from Obama any faster? .....lol... Obama's endorsement is the kiss of death for their political career.
I will be sure to vote against anyone who try's to invoke mandatory voting America already has too many things that are mandatory .
If you DO vote ... your opinion isn't listened to by politicians – they'll still do as THEY wish – which is to do whatever it takes to line their own pockets with tax payer dollars.
I guess if you don't vote, and get slapped with a fine, that money could go to the national debt and get this debt paid off faster.
I don't know whether or not I agree with it; however, I will say this, IF you don't vote, keep your mouth shut about who is in office.
If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain.
Mandatory voting? What a stupid idea.
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