Compulsory voting, is it a good idea or should our voting system remain unchanged?

Recently I was told that some countries use a mandatory voting system and that made me wonder whether it could be used in the United Kingdom or not.

I’m privileged to live in the UK. I believe that I am priveliged to live here because I know that millions of others around the world live in conditions that are much worse than mine. I live in a warm home, I have clothes to wear and I have food and clean water at my disposal. And in just under two years time I will become eligible to vote.

Once I become the age of being able to vote, I will take a long moment to think about who I think is right the party to lead our country before casting my response to the poll. However in many other countries, twenty-two to be precise (statistic taken from 2013), once you reach voting age it is a compulsary responsibility to vote in parliamentary polls.

These countries mostly include Latin American nations. Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, the Dominican Republic, Ecuador, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Paraguay, Peru and Uruguay all have compulsary voting, while Europe only has three provinces who have compulsary voting: Luxemboug, Greece and Belgium.

Now clearly there are a various reasons for and against this view.

Arguements For

While I am unable to vote due to my age, I still take a keen interest in politics and current affairs. Many of my peers take a similar stance on politics as me, while many others in my year group quite frankly could not care about it as they feel that it does not effect them.

Now this is a topic which if I ramble on for too much will stretch more towards whether the voting age should be lowered – something I hope to cover in a future blog post – but if voting was made compulsary then perhaps those people who feel politics does not affect them, would be more inclined to know more due to being required to head to the polling stations later in the lives.

If voting was made compulsary then the electorate would be more politically aware. This would mean that as a country we would be better informed and therefore make a more carefully considered decision when we find ourselves in the polling stations.

Arguments Against

If voting was to be made compulsory how would it be enforced? We have examples of countries where voting is compulsary however there are only a few nations where this is enforced.

In Australia, 6000 electorates failed to turnout for the 2010 Tasmanian Election and they received a $26 fine, however only 2000 people reportedly paid this fee.

Other countries enforce social consequences. In Greece it can become more difficult to obtain a new passport or driver’s licence, whereas in Italy it can be difficult to get day-care provision for a child.

If the UK were to implement compulsary voting then how would we enforce it? Could we introduce a fine which the funds raised could be used as a part of the budget for other departments, or would we try social punishments similar to those that Italy and Greece use.

Overall I think that we should remain with an electoral roll which you can register for. Being able to vote is a civil right but it should not be forced. If you wish to have a say in how the Government is run then you should definitely register in order to vote. But for now it matters little to me, I will continue to take an interest in politics as I look forward to being of voting age in just over a year-and-a-half, but until then I’ll hold a political view without being able to cast a vote.

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