A Vote in Favor of Compulsory Voting


Zoe Manzanetti
Staff Writer

Election day has come and gone and many Gauchos probably didn’t even notice. It’s a day that gets overshadowed by Dia de los Muertos or the “latergrams” from Halloween. However, it’s not a day that should be forgotten. National Election Day is a trademark of our Democracy and yet we aren’t embracing this opportunity.

A piece published by The Atlantic on Nov. 2 proposes a possible system that would get people to vote. The Atlantic and I agree that while it would be extremely difficult to get it enacted, a system for compulsory voting would drastically change Nov. 2 from the second day of Red-Cups-Season at Starbucks back to one of the pillars of democracy: Election Day.

Compulsory voting would be a system in which a small fee — let’s say twenty dollars — would be charged to the citizen if they enacted their right to abstain from voting. That money would be put back into, ideally, some government fund related to voting or the ballots of that year. Those who don’t want to be billed the twenty dollars are encouraged to find their way to the nearest voting station. Hopefully, this would counteract the dropping voter turnout — the Nov. 2014 Election Day only received ballots from 36 percent of the population, an all-time low. Local and statewide policies are constantly changing and they want to hear what their people have to say, but people aren’t speaking up.

That being said, one of the changes that would have to be made for this compulsory voting system to work is that the local, statewide and national voting days would have to be merged into one, so there would only be one day for a possible fee. Additionally, all of the states would have to enact this system to avoid skewing the results; if only Red States made it mandatory, then the natural effect is that the votes slide red, and vice versa. Therefore, if all states — and towns — enabled this system, the playing field would be leveled once again.

It wouldn’t be illegal to force people to vote, because it wouldn’t actually be forcing; it would be more of a strong encouragement. However, if people were still really adamant about not voting, and they didn’t want to get billed $20, they could then extend their right to cast a blank ballot, only filling out their name to avoid the fee. One reason why people might choose to abstain is because they don’t believe there are candidates that align with their views and so they don’t want to vote because they don’t want any of them.

On the presidential voting ballots in Nevada, there is an option for ‘None of these Candidates,’ which has actually won the most votes on several occasions. The only problem is that Nevada doesn’t really listen to that vote. But if compulsory voting were enacted, there would have to be some system in which voters could really choose a ‘None of these Candidates’ option and it actually held weight, forcing a re-vote or possibly even re-election of presidential candidates.

Now, the logistics of this system become very finicky very fast, which is why I think it would be extremely difficult to enact, however I think that the chance that there might be a 70 percent voter turn-out on an off-year is enough reason to try it out. But hey, I’m just one voice of many; let’s put it to a vote.