Is It Time for Compulsory Voting?

Americans hate being told what to do. That much should be obvious to anyone as the reaction to lockdowns and mask mandates has gotten heated at times.

So imagine how people would feel about being told they have to vote — or suffer the consequences? It’s an idea that’s been around a long time and has been tried even in some democratic states like Australia and Belgium. But throughout history, the most enthusiastic advocates for compulsory voting have been communists and other authoritarian regimes that crave the legitimacy that universal voting bestows on them.

The 2020 election saw the biggest turnout since 1908. Two-thirds of eligible voters mailed in a ballot, showed up for early voting, or trudged to the polls on Election Day. A massive, pre-election ad campaign to vote certainly had something to do with that. But for many on the Left, a 66 percent turnout just isn’t good enough. They want a society where you will vote or be punished.

Why does everything have to be coercive with the Left? There is a deep, psychological need in some people to control the rest of us. That can’t be helped, so the Founders put roadblocks in the way of would-be tyrants to prevent them from succeeding.

One by one, the roadblocks are being removed, and we shouldn’t be surprised if the choice to vote or not is next.


A group of more than 20 election scholars and voting rights advocates have this year been urging Americans to think about the benefits of adopting compulsory voting. The group, led by the Brookings Institution and Harvard University’s Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation, put out a report in July making the case for what they more palatably refer to as “universal civic duty voting.” Their hope is that as more Americans consider ways the voting system may more accurately reflect the country’s makeup, compulsory voting — and all the reforms that would likely come with it — may start to look attractive.

“Compulsory voting says that every person’s vote matters, every person’s perspective matters, and that everyone has a right to representation in a representative form of government,” said Janai S. Nelson, the associate director-counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund and a coauthor of the report.

I don’t care if it’s “for my own good.” First, I don’t want anyone else deciding that. I’m an adult. I can decide what’s good for me without anyone telling me.

But that’s not good enough for the radical communitarians who are pushing this idea. “Every vote matters” is a loaded statement. It’s true that every vote matters. But every person’s “perspective” does not. And all of us are already “represented.” Whether we vote or not, we have a congressional representative and two senators, a state representative and senator, local elected officials, and maybe a block captain. To say that none of those people represent me because I didn’t vote is absurd.

When voting, we’re not choosing issues. We’re choosing people. Having the freedom not to make a choice is about as basic to individual liberty as it gets. Take away choice, and you take away freedom — it’s that simple.

I believe voting should be made as easy as possible, which means easy registration, easy access to places to vote, and easy ways to identify if you’re eligible to vote or not. That last is necessary for a country where 11 million people have taken up residence illegally and are ineligible to vote.

I suppose it depends on whether you see voting as a right or a duty. If it’s a right, it must be safeguarded against those who would abuse it. If it’s a duty, any meaning to the act is lost.

Politicians and those who wield power crave the legitimacy of the vote — just like the dictators and commissars. Other peoples more used to government telling them what to do might meekly accept being told when it’s time to vote, but Americans are a breed apart and a healthy percentage of us will vote when we want to and for whom we choose.

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