The notion of compulsory voting dates back to as early as 6th century, which called on all citizens to be supportive of either sized during times of civil strife and went as far as imposing finches on the popular assembly or council members who failed to participate in meetings. In America’s history, the concept of compulsory voting was first mandated in both the laws of Virginia and the Plymouth Plantation. The idea of mandatory voting has been utilized broadly in the late 19the century. Belgium was the first nation to establish a national system for compulsory voting; nevertheless, at the time, restrictive franchise requirement called for only 130,000 people from the entire population of close to 6 million could cast their ballots. During that time, a proposal for universal male suffrage was vehemently defeated, resulting in violent civil strife. As a response, a law was adopted by parliament, which made voting mandatory and further protracted the franchise to all male citizens above 25 years old.
Furthermore, fathers who were owned land, small proprietors, professionals, college graduates, as well as those who paid substantial rent were given up to two supplementary votes; this is a model that the renowned philosopher John S. Mill and others supported. Australia is also among those countries that adopted mandatory voting in the early 20th century offering a penalty of close to AUS $50 for refusing to vote without any enough valid reason. Throughout the 20th century, more countries, including Costa Rica, Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Brazil amongst others adopted some form of mandatory voting. At the same time, specific measures were proposed in America for government employees, France, and Canada.
Remarkably, during this period, it was assumed that mandatory voting would favour right-wing parties and their candidates and thus help act as a bulwark against the threat of socialism that was being advocated for by left-wing parties. Eligible voters that did not turn up to vote were the one who was too preoccupied with their private affairs, particularly the majority of bourgeois voters whose involvement would provide some advantage to the conservatives against the takeover threat of the left. A proposal by Fredrick Holl suggested that the measure was required to guarantee the participation of the arduous farmer, hardworking mechanic, the merchant, man of the study, and the professional man. Notably, the individuals formed the core of the state, even though noting the vicious and ignorant as a group are seldom negligent in exercising their privilege to vote. The wealthy had the habit of not participating in their political responsibilities, some from a mere dislike of entangling with the poor fellow citizen. Therefore, divisions in terms of ideology often seemed to be between those in the left that sought universal but elective voting, and those in the right who sought mandatory voting combined with a narrow charter.
In modern times, however, the opposite argument with regards compulsory voting has mostly prevailed. Both opponents and proponents of mandatory voting have assumed that the impact of introducing such a practice would be to the benefit of left-leaning policy positions and parties. This assumption plays an essential role in this essay, and as such call for more scrutiny. Since voting became a universal right for people regardless of race, ethnicity, or gender, at least in most democracies, it has been considered as being an essential process in any democratic system. Voting should be made a mandatory since it allows citizens of a particular country to have a say in some of the decisions concerning the country. Several countries have witnessed a lot of success in making voting a mandatory. As earlier noted, Australia and other countries where voting has been made a compulsory in one way or another, it has been because of the continuous low voter turnout during election. There are no risks that have been associated with making voting mandatory. Mandatory voting helps in easing the robust political polarization that has been seen in the various presidential elections of the recent past. It ensures that individuals have trust in the various government institutions. Furthermore, compulsory voting is beneficial because elections have consequences, voting is a chance for change, and it gives citizens a chance to have a say.
Elections Have Consequences
It is crucial that voting is made mandatory because of the effects election results on the quality of life of the population or an individual citizen. During elections, voters make their voices heard with regards to the kind of leaders they want from the local to the national level, as well as the type of policy issues that the wish to be addressed. Election results often shape the kind of policies that are implemented during a given political calendar; these policies significantly influence the socio-economic life of the electorates from their household incomes, the prices of goods at the shelf, access to education, healthcare, among others. Voting gives individuals the power to decide the kind of life they want to have for themselves as well as the future generation. Mandatory voting allows the citizens to stand up for the problems they are facing, such as increasing minimum wage, improving local funding of schools, and enhancing local transportation. Therefore, everyone who is eligible to vote should be mandated to cast their votes.
Elections also matter because they give an individual the chance to only change their lives, but also the world in general by electing leaders who can improve the livelihood of individuals by fighting poverty and empowering women as well as girls to live a life without constant violence (Alexandria). Thus, by making voting mandatory, the country sends a message that it is committed to ensuring that everyone has a say concerning essential decisions made by the government. Through elections, individuals can decide what is best for them or not. For instance, during the current coronavirus pandemic, world economies have been ravaged, and many people’s livelihoods have been affected in various ways. Therefore, mandatory voting ensures that people get the opportunity to elect leaders who cannot only improve their health systems but also put their economies back on a sustainable recovery path (Galston).
Most, if not all governments, operate on public money and are mandated to spend the taxes they collect from the citizens prudently. It is therefore essential for citizens to participate in the electoral process to ensure that whoever they elect at whatever level of government can utilize their taxes prudently, fight corruption and be accountable to them. Compulsory voting gives citizens a chance to decide on how their taxes are spent, whether in social services or funding healthcare services. Not voting means that a person does not mind whether the government uses their hard-earned money.
Voting Provides an Opportunity To Effect Change
The surest way for individuals to effect change on a large scale is through exercising one’s right to vote. Through compulsory voting, individuals are accorded the opportunity to make a positive impact. Citizens are given a chance to help the state, nation, and community for a better good. Mandatory voting allows individuals to air out their grievances for their leaders to bring change. People face a lot of challenges, including poverty and gender violence, hence by voting they get an opportunity to elect a person who has a higher likelihood of handling such issues.
Community development in the long-term depends on every person. Individuals often justify their failure to vote by claiming that their vote is just one and does not matter. Research show that many people do not vote because they think that their vote does not count, yet what they do not know is that everyone else in the community is doing the same, hence reducing the election turnout (Solari). Mandatory voting will prevent such excuses because people will be forced to come out to vote for the leaders of their choice. Most individuals in the community do not understand the importance of voting, thus making it compulsory will make them realize that voting is a privilege.
Individuals enjoy various liberties and rights granted to them by the constitution; voting is one of those rights. Mandatory voting gives a person the freedom of choosing a person who has the ability of handling their issues. A person’s vote gives them a chance to select a leader they want without being influenced by anyone or anything, thus giving them a sense of independence. Voting is not only about presidential election, but involves other election such as local elections. According to Somin People often think that elections only involve presential vote, yet, there are several essential seats that are significant in bringing change. The leaders elected at the local level seats have the mandate to effect changes and implement solutions to the various challenges faced by citizens of a particular locality.
Compulsory Voting Ensures That Citizens Have a Say
Mandatory voting is essential because a person gets to have a say on what they want. Failure to vote means that an individual does not have a voice concerning the various issues they are facing like poverty and unequal opportunities. Elections are usually decided by individuals who take voting seriously and spare their time to go out and vote. By voting a person uses his or her voice to advocate for themselves, the community, the nation, as well as the future generation. Failure to vote means that a person has allowed someone else to make the decision for them. individuals should realize that the power is their vote. When people do not vote, they lose their right to complain. Voting gives a person an opportunity of choosing a leader who will give them a platform to air out their grievances. Making voting compulsory will ensure that individuals have a higher likelihood of electing a leader who can represent them well and gives them a platform to complain when they feel that their issues are not being addressed.
Voting is a responsibility of every citizen. Although the law does not necessitate that every person should vote, voting is an essential part of any democracy (Harb). Mandatory voting will ensure that citizens are taking part in the democratic process. Also, compulsory voting helps the citizens to elect leaders who have the ability of representing them and their views, as well as those who can support their interests. Elections belong to the people, hence making it mandatory will help them become part of the decision. The lives of individuals begin to end when they become silent about the various things that matter (Horner). Making voting compulsory will ensure that individuals do not keep quiet about the various issues affecting them since they get a chance to choose the leaders who can represent their opinions and decisions.
In summary, voting should be made mandatory because elections have the ability of changing the quality of life. Besides, mandatory voting will ensure that individuals have a say and have the chance of bringing change. Through mandatory voting, people will have a voice to air their grievances by electing leaders who have their best interest at heart. Although most individuals think that their vote does not count because it is only one, they ought to realize that the whole community depend on that vote to bring a change. Voting is an essential task in any democratic system. Therefore, it is essential that voting should be made compulsory.