Voting Should be Mandatory in National Elections – Liberal Article
Regardless of our political party persuasions, we can all agree on the gravity of the US 2020 elections. Yet, considering the election determines global policy on climate change; the World Health Organisation and other international institutions; and many other pivotal issues, only 68% of the population voted. In the UK, the situation is just as stagnant with 67.3% of the population voting in the 2019 general election.
Now, considering the stakes of the US election and the fact that Biden only won by 100,000 votes, split between a few key states, I do not believe anymore could have been done to encourage the population to register to vote.
We’ve hit a voting wall.
Therefore I propose voting in national elections should be mandatory. Firstly, Australia has already implemented this system, as well as 21 other countries. Of these 21, four occupy a top 35th spot on the EIU Democracy Index (Australia 9th, Luxemburg 12th, Uruguay 15th, Costa Rica 19th, and Belgium 33rd). And so, it is neither new nor radical and can be considered highly effective.
Secondly, I believe voting is not just a right, it is a responsibility. However, this responsibility has become cumbersome with unnecessary and over-complicated procedures that aim to prevent us from partaking in politics.
Mandatory voting holds both the public and our politicians responsible. It encourages an active engagement in politics from the public. This would counteract the widespread voter apathy from those who feel the current government is out of touch and have left them behind. Studies have shown that mandatory voting encourages voters to become more informed, and elicits even minimal democratic participation from those that otherwise would not have participated.
This would also encourage better policies from our politicians as they have to have a far broader appeal. It would foster further political legitimacy for their government. Also, money that usually goes to the huge drives to encourage people to vote, can be better spent informing the public of their manifestos.
Spoiling your ballot and opting out for religious reasons are still possible and legitimate. But as a civilian that drives on the roads, uses the NHS, and calls a firefighter, it is your duty to partake in the systems that operate our key services.
You can tell a lot about a country by how they hold their elections: whether it is a national holiday?; how easy is it to register; the election time scale; accessibility of polling stations. et cetera. By making voting compulsory you are ensuring the public’s democratic rights are being upheld. The documentation, time, and fear of doing it wrong are huge barriers in accessibility to voting.
So, by creating an opt-out system (much like our organ donation system), as a country, we will be making it far easier to vote and the sitting government will be reflective of a more informed and cohesive majority.
Written by Guest Liberal Writer, Lucy Severn
Point of Information
Mandatory voting will not work – A Conservative Response
Mandatory voting will only create further discomfort with the government. You are forcing someone to vote when you have a choice to vote or not to vote. As a result, the population will only feel even more disconnected from politics than before.
It would be much more useful to find an alternative to the First Past The Post voting system, which as we know has a few issues with representation. The government has drafted plans to rescale constituency boundaries by redistribution instead to ensure there is better representation.
However, I do not think that the UK is ready to move away from FPTP quite yet. Further research needs to be done into perhaps reverting to a hybrid system such as the Additional Members System, used to elect members to the devolved Welsh Assembly. Even here, I am not entirely convinced by the system. Perhaps, increasing the number of MPs in Parliament should be considered to maximise representation.
Written by Junior Conservative Writer, Max Jablonowski
The Vote is Neither a Burden nor a Luxury – A Labour Response
It has been decades – and for some countries, over a century – since the world adapted to the new system of elections and democracy. With the passage of time, people tend to forget how hard their ancestors had once struggled to transform the present that we are living in today.
This has been the case with many former colonies who struggled for independence; people sacrificed their todays for better and more free tomorrows. But as time goes on, we have less regard for the nations that our elders once gave their lives for.
This is, unfortunately, the same case with voting. In some parts of the world, politicians and political activists are trying hard to convince people to go out and vote. However, we also have places where people are either not familiar with voting or can only wish they will ever be able to elect their ruler themselves. The vote was hard-earned and if people do not consider the sacredness of the vote, it is not worth it for them.
We cannot, however, entirely blame the public for disregarding the importance of the vote. When the system itself doesn’t give people hope, they tend to be reluctant to fight back to change the system. People become reluctant and apathetic when they lose faith in the system. Thus, abstaining from voting becomes a paradoxically political act.
But in order to revert back, they need an encouraging force. This force could be in the form of a movement or an exemplary alternative leader. The recent US election showed the highest voter turnout in history. In my assumption, this is all because of Donald Trump.
The people who voted for Trump see an element of change from traditional American politics. On the other hand, the anti-Trump voters came out because they were not ready to give Trump another presidential term.
But the people in question here are those who yet didn’t show up to vote. In the case of America, I assume these are the people who have lost all hope in the system and believe that whatever the result, the system will not change. In my opinion, the vote of those people has no ethical value. And we can hope that with time they might realize how important their one vote can play in changing the fate of the nations.
Making voting mandatory would slowly drain the essence and value of the vote. The vote holds the power to change the dynamics. By making it mandatory, people will no longer value it. As is the nature of mankind, we repel anything enforced upon us making it feel like an excessive burden.
We are not supposed to be forced to vote. Voters are human, civil, sensible, and old enough to understand its value. If we have reached a point where we need to enforce a basic right such as voting upon people, then we have failed as a modern civilization.
But we haven’t. And we must not treat humans like machines where we need to set a certain program for them to operate. On the contrary, we must let them feel the importance and value of the vote.
To maximize the voter turnout, we could improve the technology and facilitate voters further so they don’t see voting as an excessive burden forced upon them. More importantly, it is the responsibility of political leaders to bring about some new rays of hope, a change from traditional politics, keep themselves up to date about the needs and hopes of people, and to let the people feel willing to cast their valuable vote in their favour.
People need to see that their vote is actually important and can bring real change.
Written by Junior Labour Writer, Shamamah Dogar
I am Max Jablonowski, a second year student studying French and Politics at the University of Exeter, and I am about to go on my year abroad to Paris to complete two internships. I was Academic Events Manager of the Politics Society in Exeter and I was privileged enough to organize events such as Question Time, co-host the 2019 General Election Hustings with MWEXE and host the Rt. Hon. James Brokenshire MP, the current Minister of State for Security.