Arguments Against Mandatory Voting

Popular participation is usually cited as one of the basic ideas of democracy. The right to vote being a freedom that has, and continues to be, wanted by folks all round the world. Despite the value of many political systems’ movement towards universal suffrage, the few nations that have confused the best to vote, with a requirement to, have arguably deteriorated the importance of this achievement. Australia is a part of a substantial minority that implement compulsory voting laws, and of a good smaller subset that implement them.

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Although the proponents of obligatory voting will be considered, the incompatibility of compulsory voting with implied freedoms, with broad theories of democracy and the general inefficacy of manufacturing a extra engaged public, serve as perspectives that substantiate the notion that voting should not be obligatory in Australia.

The Australian Constitution raises numerous questions concerning the constitutional validity of mandatory voting. Given this evaluation of an issue so pertinent to political rights, the implications of those challenges coming from a supply as authoritative as this can’t be understated.

The existence of a legal responsibility to vote could be perceived as incongruous with the implied freedom of political communication that was proved in Australian Capital TV v Commonwealth 1992 and recognised ever since. This inconsistency extends to the right to vote being proved as an implicit proper in s7 and s24 of the Constitution, which, as reported by Dr. Anthony Gray, is an entitlement to vote that includes the freedom not to. Whilst advocates for the present system of compulsion might contend that voting is a civic obligation, such reasoning could be seen as unconvincing as it fails to acknowledge that abstention is a perfectly legitimate type of political expression.

Through an evaluation of obligatory voting from a wider democratic perspective, the concept that compulsion is an infringement of free will becomes increasingly apparent. In addition to the plain paradox that a democratic country forces its constituents to vote, a truly free nation should allow for the demonstration of dissatisfaction and make provisions for a refusal to establish political views.

Although commentators in favour of compulsion could assert that the flexibility to provide an informal or ‘donkey’ vote facilitates this, the inefficiencies these contribute to in addition to its inherent irrationality, given they are discounted, are persuasive arguments against such an opinion. Moreover, although there is a sure degree of legitimacy in the declare that obligatory voting serves to augment the democratic ideals of equality and participation, compelling a person to vote is in the end, according to tutorial Katherine Swenson, antithetical to the idea of individual freedom.

A common belief maintained by supporters of compulsory voting is that it creates a extra politically active voters. Whilst in concept that is conceivable, its practical limitations make the alleviation of indifference a distant reality. In support of this, a 2007 experiment conducted by Peter Loewen et al. in a Quebec election discovered that required voting had “little or no effect” on the knowledge and engagement of its members. In the Australian context, regardless of the belief that the issue of participation is solved by necessary legal guidelines, in the final election around one-fifth of eligible Australians failed to solid a usable vote. It is argued that candidates and parties rely on these legal guidelines to get voters to the ballot.

If that is the case, perhaps the answer is to abandon compulsory voting and thus drive parties to organically incite a politically active populace via attractive and revolutionary insurance policies. The dichotomy of democracy is that it demands both particular person freedoms and equality. A great problem of recent politics has been the flexibility to strike a balance between these paradigms, and to determine at what point one have to be truncated to boost the other. Through an analysis of obligatory voting through a constitutional, democratic and sensible context, it has turn out to be clear that such a regime has no place in a society that strives to exist as an epitome of democracy. The time has now come for Australia to abandon its paternalistic voting legal guidelines and entrust its political future with the voluntary voice of the Australian public, and not in a bit of laws that commands it to speak.


1. Chong, D, Davidson, S & Fry, T 2005, ‘It’s an Evil Thing to Oblige People to Vote’, Policy (St Leonard’s NSW), vol. 21 no. four, pp. 10-16.

2.Gray, A 2012, ‘The Constitutionality of Australia’s Compulsory Voting System’, Australian Journal of Politics & History, vol. fifty eight, no. 4, pp. 591-608.

3.Hoffman, R & Lazaridis, D 2013, ‘The Limits of Compulsion: Demographic Influences on Voter Turnout in Australian State Elections’, Australian Journal of Political Science, vol. 48, no. 1, pp. 28-43.

4.Krishna, V & Morgan, J 2012, ‘Voluntary voting: Costs and benefits’, Journal of Economic Theory, vol. 147, no. 6, pp. 2083-2123.

5.Lever, A 2010, ‘Compulsory Voting: A Critical Perspective’, British Journal of Political Science, vol. 40, no. four, pp. 897-915.

6.Loewen, PJ, Milner, H & Hicks, BM 2008, ‘Does Compulsory Voting Lead to More Informed and Engaged Citizens? An Experimental Test’, Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 41, no. 2, pp. 655-672.

7.Singh, S 2011, ‘How Compelling is Compulsory Voting? A Multilevel Analysis of Turnout’, Political Behaviour, vol. 33, no. 1, pp. 95-111.

8.Swenson, KM 2007, ‘Sticks, carrots, donkey votes, and true choice: a rationale for abolishing obligatory voting in Australia’, Minnesota Journal of International Law, vol. 17, no. 2, pp. 525-552.

Gordon, SB & Gary MS 1997, ‘Cross-National Variation in the Political Sophistication of Individuals: Capability or Choice?’, Journal of Politics, vol. 59, no. ?, pp. 126-147.

Hooghe, M & Koen,P 1998, ‘Compulsory Voting in Belgium: an Application of the Lijphart Thesis’, Electoral Studies vol. 17?, no. ?, pp.419-424.

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