Stick it to the man-datory voting

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The right to vote is one of the most important in British society. Nonetheless, whilst most voters will be debating which party to vote for, some may still be wondering whether to make the trip to the polling station at all.
Stencil art in Wisconsin. The text reads “OUR DREAMS CANNOT FIT IN THEIR BALLOT BOXES”. Image: Wikimedia Commons

This may lead some to say that voting should be mandatory. However, as someone who previously never saw myself voting, I would strongly disagree. Our right to vote is exactly that: a right, not an obligation.

Choosing which party to vote for on election day is often the most difficult part of the process. Brexit has created so much uncertainty in politics that no party has come out looking great. Additionally, young people may feel pressured to vote a certain way due to social media, their friends or their parents. The voting system can also be off-putting for certain people. Constituencies can be strongholds for one party, meaning that if a voter wants to vote the other way or vote for a less popular party, they can feel as though their vote is less meaningful.

An election with mandatory voting wouldn’t just be unfair: it would be foolish

Forcing people to vote would solve absolutely nothing. Instead of not voting because they don’t know who to vote for, former non-voters would be doing one of three things: voting for a party that they don’t believe in, making an ill-informed decision or ticking a random box. An election under this system wouldn’t just be unfair: it would be foolish.

While it may be hard to accept that some people don’t want to vote, forcing these people to vote would be a mistake. Nevertheless, for those thinking that they don’t want to vote, remember that it is always important to stand up for what you believe in. If that doesn’t match up with what MPs are saying, you have my respect.

Steven Ross’s piece in favour of mandatory voting is available here: http://www.thecourieronline.co.uk/many-voices-for-mandatory-voting/

Last modified: 11th November 2019

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