Compulsory Voting

Topics: Elections, Election, Voting Pages: 7 (2110 words) Published: March 31, 2014
English Composition 2
SUNY Empire State College
Final paper

Compulsory Voting

Topic of the paper
Democracy is built on freedom to vote and have your political say, but the majority of people in the world’s ‘greatest’ democracies never vote at all. Is compulsory participation in the political system the answer? Investigate countries which make voting compulsory – weigh the advantages and disadvantages – then argue for or against this policy.

Compulsory voting solves the problem of low political participation during elections; therefore, winning politicians and political parties cannot be considered non-legitimate in mandatory voting. On the other hand, mandatory voting has more disadvantages than advantages. Firstly, it is against the freedom of individuals, because people already do not have a right to vote, but it is their duty. It is also against freedom of speech, because part of freedom of speech is freedom not to speak, which is denied by mandatory voting. Also, there are many people who are not interested in politics, or in certain elections, especially elections to European Parliament. Such a people do not need to express their opinion in elections, or they do not feel directly influenced by politics. This paper was written after research of several academic sources and small personal survey in streets of New York.

I. Introduction to controversy
II. Countries using compulsory voting
A. Belgium
B. Cyprus
C. Italy
III. Advantages of compulsory voting
A. High political participation
B. Political legitimacy
C. Higher political interest among people
D. Increasing efficiency of politicians
IV. Disadvantages of compulsory voting
A. Individual freedom
B. Freedom of speech
C. Conflict with religious groups
D. Lack of knowledge and interest
E. Small percentage of punishments
V. Personal survey
VI. Conclusion
A. Summary of advantages and disadvantages
B. Last word on the controversy

In the modern world, democracy is the most used political system, which is based on participation of people. However, democracy is currently facing problem with low participation of people in many countries. In order to solve this problem and stop all the controversies about lack of legitimacy in some countries, politicians started to discuss the topic of compulsory voting. It is proven that compulsory voting solves the problem of low voting turnout and lack of political legitimacy, but it is against the freedom of individuals. Many people do not want to vote, to express their opinion. Mandatory voting is against the freedom of speech, because it includes also freedom not to speak, which is in conflict with compulsory voting. There is also a problem with religious people, because politics in general is in dispute with their belief. Some people have no interest, or knowledge about politics, so it would be counter-productive to force such people to vote. Countries using compulsory voting

Compulsory voting is being already used in many countries. According Dr. Costas Panagopulos, the director of the Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy at Fordham University, there were 27 countries in the World in 2008 using compulsory system, but they differ by sanctions and enforcements to defectors. Some countries like Australia or Belgium punish breaking the compulsory voting very strictly with high sanctions, but countries like Italy or Mexico do not use any punishments (458).

A first country, which I would like to introduce, is Belgium. Belgium is very strict about compliance the compulsory voting. They do not charge money to people not going to votes, but when they are absent at four elections during fifteen years, they lose their right to vote (Panagopoulos 457-58).

Second example of country using compulsory system of voting is Cyprus. Cyprus punishes not going to elections very strictly and fines are very high. When Cyprus...
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