|32 countries have mandatory voting - isn't it time|
Canada joined them
There is a very simple way to quickly put an end to robo-call scandals, dramatically increase voter participation, reduce negative political advertising and strengthen democracy -- without spending any additional money.
How would it work?
On fraudulent robo-calls or live calls that attempt to mislead voters by directing them to the wrong polling location, like the ones being investigated from last year by Elections Canada, there would simply no longer be any point. Since all voters would be required to participate by law, discouraging a very small number would be not only next to impossible but useless.
Best of all, making voting the law means the overwhelming majority of eligible voters participate. And because they have to vote, more citizens spend more time examining public issues and the parties' positions on them, boosting democratic engagement.
Belgium and Luxembourg also use compulsory voting and have participation rates in recent years averaging over 91 per cent.
Compulsory voting isn't unusual worldwide. Currently 32 countries require eligible citizens to vote in elections, and of those 19 fine or otherwise penalize anyone who does not participate.
Australia's penalty for not voting is quite minor -- a $20 fine. Yet that seems enough to encourage all but a handful of eligible voters to go to the polling stations.