Jonah Goldberg believes requiring people to vote is “absurd, cynical and repugnant.” Australia has required voting since 1924, a system Australians vigorously support. Virtually everyone votes, even though the fine for not voting is only $20.
The result of this system is that no group can be ignored because they are less likely to vote. It also increases the legitimacy of those who win office because almost everyone has voted. No one can say something like, “The winner only got 24% of eligible voters because less than 50% of the people voted.”
It also demonstrates that being a citizen in a democracy is not simply about freedom but also about responsibility for one’s country and its future. Australians take this responsibility seriously and as a result are better informed about the issues and their elected officials than many Americans.
Catherine G. Burke
I don’t usually agree with Goldberg’s columns, but his piece on compulsory voting had some good arguments. I feel that many Americans do not acquaint themselves with the issues and the candidates and cannot vote intelligently.
If people were forced to vote, the hordes of uninformed citizens showing up at the polls would make our situation worse. Terrible idea.
It is an amazing display of elitism that leads Goldberg to suggest that providing incentives to citizens to vote would result in “an influx of large numbers of stupid voters.”
He writes: “Many people still believe that compelling the poor, the uneducated and the politically unengaged would be a boon to Democrats.” These are exactly those the Democratic Party seeks to help. If they choose to vote Democratic, it isn’t much different than rich people voting for Republicans to reduce their taxes.
However, it is clear where the benevolence lies.