As of Tuesday, May 5, 2015
Many things should be mandatory, such as slow speeds in school zones and that you don’t hit people you dislike with hammers. But voting?
This issue periodically surfaces, and just last recently, President Obama skirted the edges of supporting mandatory voting. In response to a question on how to reduce the influence of money in politics, the president said, “We shouldn’t be making it harder to vote – we should be making it easier to vote…. It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything.”
Truly, getting more voters to the polls would be transformative, though we disagree that it would be the game-changer versus money; in politics, the only thing that beats money is … more money. But mandatory voting is just a bad idea, and we’ll throw our two-cents in here.
As voters, we have the right to abstain from the process; our absence is our vote. Is it a problem that in the 2014 election, less than 36 percent of eligible voters in the U.S.—according to the Wall Street Journal — cast ballots? Maybe, if that problem is with legitimate voting access issues, so we should look at improving the process, for example, through more mail-out ballots or electronic voting. Maybe, if the problem is voters discouraged with the process who have dropped out, we need to find better and more substantive ways to re-engage citizens with their government so they see their voice and opinions are being heard and make a difference.
Just so you know, turnout in Idaho County is substantially better than the national average. In the 2014 general election, county turnout was 60.55 percent of total registered voters.
But maybe, low voter turnout also comprises the completely uninterested, which brings us to the second point.
Those folks should stay home; they don’t want to be part of the process, and coercing them to cast ballots by threat of the Polling Police is just not good government … oh, and there might be some constitutional violations in doing so. So while low voter turnout isn’t a great image for our political system, we’d rather have quality as provided by those who choose to engage with the system rather than the quantity created by whipping cattle herds through the stockyard gate.
So for now, we’re free to choose, or not. And you’ll have those choices to make twice this year; this month and later this fall.