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At present, the United States does not require its citizens to vote. As a consequence, voter turnout during presidential elections has been traditionally low - between 50 to 60 percent of the population that is eligible to vote. Similarly, voter turnout for the 2014 midterm elections, at 36.2 percent, has been the lowest since 1942. These abysmal figures lead to the conclusion that the election result is not truly representative of the will of the people, and therefore make a strong case for mandatory voting.
First and foremost, mandatory voting will ensure that election results truly reflect the will of the voting public. When a significant proportion of the voting public chooses not to vote, the result of such an election is skewed in favor of those who exercised their right to vote. This very fact casts a huge question mark over the validity of the election result, and indirectly over the integrity of the election process. Mandatory voting ensures that the voices of the non-voting population, mainly comprising lesser-educated, younger and poorer Americans, will be heard. One argument in favor of mandatory voting is that it will force more Americans to pay attention to political issues in order to make more informed choices. Mandating voting will motivate Americans to learn more about the issues that matter to them, and develop opinions which will then translate into voting for the candidates who, in their opinion, can tackle these issues.
An opposing view is that mandatory voting will lead to careless voting, with the public only voting to fulfill an obligation rather than to bring about any change for the better. However, the Australian experience has shown otherwise. In Australia, voting has been largely corruption-free, and enjoys a 70 percent approval rating. The result has been a more equitable distribution of wealth, lower levels of corruption at the political level, and most importantly, more satisfaction with the democratic process as compared to the United States.
Many have also argued that mandating voting goes against the basic principles of freedom and liberty that the Constitution guarantees to every citizen of the United States. However, jury duty and primary education are also both mandatory, and no one has criticized them for this fact. Like jury duty and basic education, the potential benefits of mandatory voting far outweigh any perceived infringements of freedom, making a strong case for mandating the vote.
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