Saturday, March 21, 2015

Why not force everyone to vote?

Peggy Noonan says:

"It would be transformative if everybody voted," [Obama] told an audience in Cleveland. Yes, it would. It would mean a lot of people who aren’t interested in public policy and choose not to follow it would suddenly be deciding it.

The way it is now, if you aren’t interested—and you have the right not to be interested—you don’t have to vote. If you are interested, you pay attention, develop political views, and vote. Making those who don’t care about voting vote will only dilute the votes of those who are serious and have done their democratic homework.

Most of us are moved by the sight of citizens lined up at the polls on Election Day. We should urge everyone to care enough to stand in that line. But we should not harass or bother those who, with modesty and even generosity, say they are happy to leave the privilege of the ballot to those who are engaged.
Mandatory voting would also increase the sense that your vote doesn't make a difference, since your vote would become an even smaller proportion of the total. More people would vote, but most of them would be more lackluster about their votes — including those who would have voted voluntarily anyway.