Mandatory Voting Is a Terrible—And Insulting—Idea

The political parties have no right to demand our stamp of approval for their elections.


You're only encouraging them.
Credit: ** RCB ** / photo on flickr

Toward the end of a speech and Q&A session (about an hour and 10 minutes in) in Cleveland yesterday, President Barack Obama spoke a bit about reforming elections, complaining about money in politics, gerrymandering, and the Citizens United decision. One "short term" solution he floated was to make voting mandatory, holding up Australia as an example.

"It would be transformative if everybody voted," he said. "That would counter money more than anything."

No, it wouldn't, not really. Well, first of all, let's backtrack to the idea. Mandatory voting is a violation of our civil rights, just as denying a citizen a right to vote is a violation. Casting a vote is speech. It is showing support or opposition to a candidate or proposal. Making voting mandatory means voting is no longer a right. It's an obligation. It's forced speech. If we were forced to attend a church, but had a choice of several churches, we would still (most of us, anyway) recognize that this is a violation of our freedom to decline to practice religion at all. Not voting isn't just an expression of apathy. It's also a form of protest.

Second, when it comes to campaigning, mandatory voting would indeed probably make the race cheaper—but only for incumbents and entrenched politicians. Institutional inertia benefits incumbents tremendously, and they're rarely tossed out of office. Obama complained about all the television ads during election season. Imagine what it would be like to attempt to challenge an incumbent as an outsider in an environment where you have to assume that everybody is going to vote. How much more money would challengers have to spend to try to reach even more people to counter the natural advantages of incumbents? It's the same problem with attempting to restrict campaign spending. Because incumbents have a history and years of essentially free press covering his or her work in office, challengers sometimes have to be able to raise and spend more to compete against them, assuming the incumbent doesn't have a history of failure, scandal, and incompetence. There's a reason the phrase "the devil you know" gets invoked so frequently when talking about politicians and elections.

Third, Australia's parliamentary system is completely different from America's. They have a proportional voting system, not a "winner takes all" system. Their voting process is very complicated, with voters ranking candidates by preference. Australia has more than two political parties with representation in its parliament, and the voting system sometimes results in the creation of ruling coalitions (right now it's a group of center-right political parties). Comparing America's voting system to Australia's is as silly as comparing it to North Korea's, but for different reasons.

Australia's complicated voting system helped lead to the election of Australia's first libertarian senator, David Leyonhjelm. Despite nominally benefiting from mandatory voting and a prime spot near the top of the ballot, Leyonhjelm blasted mandatory voting in an interview with Reason: "We argue that we have a right to vote, and it's not a right if you get fined for not doing it. So it becomes an obligation, like paying your taxes. You don't have a right to pay your taxes; you have an obligation to pay your taxes, and you get penalized if you don't do it. Voting is in the same category: To pretend it's a right when you can be prosecuted for not doing it is ridiculous."

Here in America, the Democrats and Republicans do everything in their power to keep candidates like Leyonhjelm off the ballots, which would make mandatory voting the equivalent of finding your local convenience store coolers stocked with nothing but Coke and Pepsi. In California, the state has instituted a top-two-only run-off open primary system for many races, and in November's election, in six Congressional races, voters in those districts only had the choice between two candidates from the same party. Would you like Coke or Diet Coke?

Obama would have us believe that mandatory voting somehow gives more power to the citizenry, but in fact, it treats the citizenry as the servants of the political parties. Recall last fall when operatives for political parties sent out sinister messages to voters warning them that whether they voted or not was a public record and that they would be "interested to hear" why somebody might not have voted. As I said at the time, these methods absolve the political parties of having to find better candidates that would actually inspire people to go to the polls. Imagine what sort of insipid, lackluster candidates we'll get in mandatory elections and what they'll say or do or promise to try to get the support of people who currently do not feel enough interest to even bother.  

To bounce back to Australia for a moment, today Leyonhjelm is reintroducing his bill to try to legalize gay marriage recognition down under. Part of the process of getting this legislation passed in Australia is convincing one of the coalition parties to allow its legislators to have a conscience vote, meaning these men and women will decide how to vote rather than the party. Even though polls show Australians are in favor of gay marriage recognition in higher numbers than here in the United States, Leyonhjelm has to lobby for members of one party to vote how they want to vote, not how the party tells them they have to vote.

And finally, for obvious reasons, Obama fails to engage in why special interests spend so much money on elections in the first place: The federal government is very, very powerful, and it has grown in size and scope under him. The federal government has its hooks in every single thing we do as citizens and in every single thing every business does as well. Election turnouts aren't going to change this. It might even heighten it if candidates end up promising all sorts of new programs to appeal to voters who would have otherwise not even bothered under the current system. The Obama administration and its agencies' willingness to regulate just about anything under the sun fosters an environment where not only does it pay off for labor and corporate interests to spend money to influence incomes, sometimes it's—well—mandatory.

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  1. OT: This should give John a stiffie…..-election/

    ESPN host Stephen A. Smith thinks that if, for one election, every black American voted Republican, it would send a message to both parties that the demographic is not under any one particular party’s control.

    “What I dream is that for one election, just one, every black person in America vote Republican,” Smith said Tuesday afternoon at the Impact Symposium at Vanderbilt University in Nashville.

    1. Vote for STEVE SMITH

    2. When you’ve lost Stephen A. Smith…

      1. Actually, he seems pretty libertarian in a lot of his utterances….sometimes bordering on conservative..

    3. I will never understand why blacks as a voting bloc don’t threaten to do just that. Not like the Dems do much good for them, anyway. They’re an assumed vote, not a catered to one (except for lip service, that is).

      1. Pro Lib wants to put Ya’ll back in chains!

        1. I don’t understand why they wear political ones when they have the key in their hands. And blacks aren’t the only group that tends to do this.

          1. Let me guess, JOOOOOOOS!

            1. That’s one. I really don’t get them voting for the Democrats, who seem to be picking up European antisemitism along with their politics and economics.

              1. It’s always baffled me too, since R is seen as the wealthy party and many Jews are affluent.

                1. The Dems would have us believe that the Republicans are the party of the wealthy, but all sorts of evidence suggests that the Republicans are the party of the Middle Class, and the Dems are the Party of the Rich and Poor.

                  Which is an odd dichotomy, if you think about it…although when you consider that the Dems are typically trust-fund babies promising bread and circuses to the needy and “needy”, it actually makes a bit of sense…

                  But what doesn’t make so much sense is how the Jewish block is so monolithic, when not all of them are wealthy.

            2. Let me guess. You’re retired, living in a trailer park near Winter Haven and are here solely for the “ass sex” fight.

      2. It’s just pure fear and brainwashing. My dad still votes straight Democrat, because he grew up in an industrial area and was always told that the Republicans were the “party of the rich”. He’s not one of the “1%”, but he is retired and did very well for himself, and his net worth is way above average. Yet, he still votes against the “party of the rich”, even though he is one of them.

      3. For many dark complected individuals, their skin color does not define them. Many are business people who work with Asian, Latin American, Middle Eastern and European clients, associates and suppliers. They do not have financial or social interest the run along racial lines. Yesterday I spoke with one who was Scottish and one from Thailand, but neither had any cultural affinity to Africa or stereotypical American dialect. To continually refer to blacks as a group or voting bloc encourages discrimination and segregation.

        1. Yet this is just the reason they are put into blocs. The parties do not look at at them, except in a way that they can be segregated! It is just what they want!

          God forbid that we look at each other according to our actions and not in a preconceived stereotypical view! When we fail to look at people as individuals, and only look at people as a larger group, we will maintain the status quot!

      4. Because they’re not capable of being that organized.

    4. My last pay check was $9500 working 12 hours a week online. My sisters friend has been averaging 15k for months now and she works about 20 hours a week. I can’t believe how easy it was once I tried it out. This is what I do,

    5. After unsuccessfully trying to vote by absentee ballot in the last two elections, I would hope that the penalty wouldn’t be very severe, or that they hire competent people to administer a needlessly complicated voting system. AAA can handle an International Driver’s Permit by mail, but election bureaucrats can’t manage a ballot.

  2. We all know perfectly the real reason Obama and his lackeys like this idea: the dumber you are, you more likely you are to vote for his sort of ilk.

    1. Bingo.

      “We NEED the vote of those individuals too lazy to even vote for free stuff!”

  3. News flash: president hates our freedoms.
    /slow news day

  4. Sharpie, ball peen hammer. “HERE’S YOUR FUCKING VOTE!!!!”

  5. I love how President Not My Fault is supposedly a freaking “constitutional scholar” yet he advocates for a tyranny of the majority and routinely circumvents the checks and balances of our representative republic.

    It’s like he learned about it just so he could figure out how to destroy it. Well done.

    1. That indeed is exactly what he did.

    2. John Connor: You know what you’re doing?
      The Terminator: I have detailed files on human anatomy.
      Sarah Connor: I’ll bet. Makes you a more efficient killer, right?
      The Terminator: Correct.

    3. First, he was an adjunct, not actually faculty, so not a scholar. Adjuncts generally don’t publish or do anything other than act as instructors.

      Second, whatever he does or doesn’t know about the Constitution, he doesn’t give a crap about limited government. He’s clearly a statist of the highest order.

    4. Seriously now, the Constitution is not in effect as law. It’s just not. Folks keep citing it and arguing about it, but it’s gone.

  6. Forced voting is freedom. Freedom that will magically strike down the power of the corporations! (But not the unions. They are pure as the driven snow.)

  7. If only for the

    1. The hell?

      Anyway, I was saying that it would be amusing to see these mandatory-voting supporters’ reactions to being required to own and service a firearm in exchange for getting their way here.

      1. I think you stroked out for a minute there.

        1. Funny that he doesn’t propose doing away with petitioning requirements to include other parties on the ballot.

  8. What’s especially funny about Leyonhjelm saying this is that part of the reason Leyonhjelm was elected was due to the ‘donkey vote’ which is where people who are required to vote but don’t really want to just punch the top candidate on the ticket – which in this case was Leyonhjelm. He probably wouldn’t even be in office were it not for mandatory voting, a fact which he readily admits, and is trying to get rid of the very unfair voting practice that helped him get elected.

    Talk about a principled stance.

    1. I understand that the order of the candidates on the ballot is randomly determined. The chances are Leyonhjelm wouldn’t benefit from the donkey vote next time.

    2. Rare among politicians.

  9. “The president continued, “The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minorities… There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”

    More “war on the poor” from Chocolate Jesus. The reason a lot of young, low-income types don’t vote is that they can’t get election day off. So they’re now to be punished for not risking their jobs.

    1. The reason a lot of young, low-income types don’t vote is that they can’t get election day off.

      You need a whole day off to get to polls that are open for twelve hours?

      1. I don’t know about other states but here the polls are open weeks before election and on weekends.

        1. Where I’m at the polls are only open for one day, but you’ve got weeks beforehand to vote absentee.

        2. “I don’t know about other states but here the polls are open weeks before election and on weekends.”

          And when early voting was cut back it was due to evil Republicans disenfranchising poor and ethnic voters. Pointing out that Florida still had had more voting hours available than most states fell on deaf ears. So much for logic.

      2. Actually, election “day” where I am lasted about two weeks, including some weekend days.

        1. This is my cite^^

      3. The time is 7:59 and the robot polls are now opening … and the robot vote is in. Nixon has won!

        1. The thing that makes Robonica so special
          Is the nasty oil in which the bimbos wrestle!

        2. At any rate I certainly wouldn’t harm the child *truth-o-scopes beeping*

      4. It depends. Most such jobs usually have either-or scheduling and are without a two-martini lunch (a one-joint coffee break is the best you get) and they may need a lot of time to travel to their polling station. Add in the fact that mostly, people at that level depend on public transportation to get around means that getting out to vote isn’t easy. Maybe it’s not true in all cases but it is a factor.

        1. You are so full of shit you’re overflowing.

          1. It was the fajitas…

        2. Wow.

          “Most such jobs…”
          “May need a lot of time..”
          “Mostly people at that level depend on public transportation…”

          You lost me at “depends,” anyway.

      5. Susan is going to suggest a mandatory day off for election day.

        1. Yes! Obviously someone who refers to Obama as “Chocolate Jesus” would suggest such a thing.

          1. The reason a lot of young, low-income types don’t vote is that they can’t get election day off. So they’re now to be punished for not risking their jobs.

            The statist solution to this would be a mandatory day off for voting. You strongly tend toward statist solutions, and your next post after the quoted one was complaining (inaccurately, by the way) about two-martini lunches and how the working poor are mistreated by the man and have to depend on public transit. So yes, it was a safe assumption.

            1. I’d be insulted by that, but since this is Hit and Run – where you’re either a Pure Libertarian (presuming you all can agree just exactly what the hell that means) or you’re an evil, scheming Communazi.

              The martini/coffee break bit was an on-the-fly reference to an old George Carlin routine, if you’re wondering.

              1. “I’d be insulted by that, but since this is Hit and Run – where you’re either a Pure Libertarian (presuming you all can agree just exactly what the hell that means) or you’re an evil, scheming Communazi.”

                Hey, we’re not all Bo! I got what you were saying, and only Heteropatriarch seemed confused.

                1. Just having some witty banter (trying to, anyway). All things considered, this is the most civilized commentariat I’ve encountered so far.

                  1. Fuck you Sue!

                    1. SECONDED!!!!

                  2. “Just having some witty banter (trying to, anyway). All things considered, this is the most civilized commentariat I’ve encountered so far.”

                    Yeah, but the bar is certainly quite low.
                    I love that there’s no edit feature.

      6. You might, if your relief calls off. I think polls should be open for more then 12 hours.

        1. I think they should be open the entire weekend.

          1. And open to cemetery residents, including the cremated.

    2. A shit load of people who are low-income also don’t vote because they pay no attention to politics and don’t care. Obama is therefore talking about inflicting an apathy tax on the poor.

      He just loves them so, so much!

      1. He wants to ensure a permanent Democrat majority since the politically clueless will vote for the candidate their favorite entertainers support, who will no doubt be a Dem.

  10. Obumbles barfs up another monumentally bad idea?

    Say it aint so.

    1. Scrape away the thin veneer and there’s a fascist. Who would have guessed?

  11. The mandatory vote is also particularly amenable to a system where there is a high degree of party loyalty. Ballots in Australia can be very long. One way to be more efficient in your vote is to simply put a “1” against the first name in the list of candidates for your party and the vote counting system will automatically apply all the votes in order according to the desires of that party.

    1. In multiple states there is the option to pull the ‘master lever’ and vote straight tickent Democrat or Republican.

      1. Really? That seems…..I don’t know, not right somehow.

        1. They had that in Michigan. Don’t know if they still do.

          1. They did as of 2012, the last time I voted there.

      2. It is here and Texas, though it is a master button. The LP and GP are also on the straight ticket list.

  12. Any one think that criticism of mandatory voting will be spun as promoting disenfranchisement? Am I too cynical?

    Further, what do you think those supporting mandatory voting would think of a “None of the Above” requirement on ALL ballots.

    1. None of the Below as the first entry.

      1. Can we have “Hang them all” as an option?

        1. Only if “I want them drawn and quartered” is another.

          1. The proper progression is hanging, then burning, before going to tearing into little pieces

          2. SPLITTER.

    2. “None of the Above” defeats the purpose of politicians suggesting this. They want more low information voters. That’s the ‘transformative’ outcome they want, more easily manipulated plebs that will back them up.

      In university I suggested the ‘none of the above’ option in a class on electoral systems and the professor got quite upset. Their argument was basically that voting obligates you to make a choice and refusing that choice is tantamount to rejecting the society you live in. That’s the second attitude towards mandatory voting, that people are ‘obligated’ to take part in the political process in order to take responsibility for the outcomes. Got to make sure that you have your share of the blame.

      1. obligates you to make a choice and refusing that choice is tantamount to rejecting the society you live in

        You know what other Canadian had something to say about this?

      2. Their argument was basically that voting obligates you to make a choice and refusing that choice is tantamount to rejecting the society you live in.

        Yes, they really do believe that government=society. Also, government=community.

      3. In some countries, there is a “none of the above/null vote” option. I know Paraguay, for example, has one.

    3. One caveat: if “None of the Above” receives the most votes, then the office remains vacant for the term.

      I might actually give money to the “None of the Above” campaign.

  13. Your Lunchtime Derp

    Spot the Not: Leonard Peikoff (a famous Randroid)

    1. [Regarding the so-called Ground Zero Mosque] Any way possible permission should be refused and if they go ahead and build it, the government should bomb it out of existence, evacuating it first, with no compensation to any of the property owners involved in this monstrosity.

    2. Responsible parenthood involves decades devoted to the child’s proper nurture. To sentence a woman to bear a child against her will is an unspeakable violation of her rights: her right to liberty (to the functions of her body), her right to the pursuit of happiness, and, sometimes, her right to life itself, even as a serf.

    3. Every argument for God and every attribute ascribed to Him rests on a false metaphysical premise. None can survive for a moment on a correct metaphysics.

    4. Teach these boys and girls nothing but Facts. Facts alone are wanted in life. Plant nothing else, and root out everything else. You can only form the minds of reasoning animals upon facts.

    5. Statism and the advocacy of reason are philosophical opposites. They cannot coexist?neither in a philosophic system nor in a nation.

    6. What is is. Perceive It. Integrate it. Act on it. Idealize it.

    1. 4. I’m guessing that’s actually Stalin

    2. “Any way possible permission should be refused and if they go ahead and build it, the government should bomb it out of existence, evacuating it first, with no compensation to any of the property owners involved in this monstrosity.”

      Holy mother of God. I’m quoting this the next time a progressive claims that libertarians have a lot in common with objectivists.

      1. Objectivists, particularly on the ARI side, have a real warboner for Islam.

        My current understanding is that they’re minarchists. But not libertarians. I should have taken Ayn Rand at her word about that. I had thought that she was just confused about what a libertarian was, and that she didn’t really have any fundamental disagreement. Now I think it’s more likely that Rand was not at all confused, she was just wrong.

        1. Objectivists, particularly on the ARI side, have a real warboner for Islam.

          Didn’t know that, to be honest.

          The quote shows an astounding level of ignorance.

          1. I don’t think I’m exaggerating, but don’t take my word for it, either.

    3. It’s either 1 or 5, because the same person could not possibly have said both of those things without his head exploding.

    4. Answer to be revealed around 1:30

    5. I’m going with 1 because I have read him and don’t recall any populist/socon leanings.

    6. #4 is the Not. That is a quote from Grandgrind, a character in the novel Hard Times from Dickens.

      1. I knew i’d heard that somewhere else before


    (well, saddam huissein, actually…. and basically every other dictator. See, ‘democracy’ = voting)

    in a current 2 party, winner-takes-all environment, ‘mandatory voting’ is simply a ploy by the party of the Ignorant to make some use out of their low-information, zero-skin-in-the-game base who thinks ‘moar free shit’ sounds nice.

  15. The great hope comes up with another great idea without thinking it through:

    Someone decided to make a principled stand and not vote.
    Fine or whatever ensues as punishment
    Case moves eventually to SCOTUS where even Roberts can’t wiggle his way out, and there is about a 6/3 or even 7/2 decision that this is unconstitutional
    Obumah or Hillarity or some other’s surrogates try to get a constitutional amendment moving. It sails through congress (who loves the idea) but stalls after only about 3 states (CA, MD, MA) vote to ratify.
    1 – 5 billion man-hours are wasted in the attempt and discussions and referenda, and we’re right back where we are today.

    Brilliant BO, absolutely brilliant!

    1. “Case moves eventually to SCOTUS where even Roberts can’t wiggle his way out, and there is about a 6/3 or even 7/2 decision that this is unconstitutional”

      This would be a 9/0 case. I guarantee you that even the left-wing of the current court would balk at this.

      1. I would hope so, but both Ginsburg and Breyer are so far out there that a clean sweep seems overly hopeful.


          Last year there was a 9-0 decision overturning a ban on abortion protesting in Massachusetts. I guarantee you Ginsburg cares more about abortion law than she does about coerced voting, and yet she still saw fit to vote with the majority.

          1. Good point.

            1. Barack Obama, the great uniter, has a record for 9-0 decisions (against) by the Nazgul.

              Or so I heard.

              1. Never heard them called that before. Brilliant.

      2. Maybe. It sure would appeal to the left, who would love nothing more than the elimination of any opposition.

        1. The Red left or the Blue left?

  16. Leyonhjelm described it nicely:
    “You don’t have a right to pay your taxes; you have an obligation to pay your taxes, and you get penalized if you don’t do it. Voting is in the same category: To pretend it’s a right when you can be prosecuted for not doing it is ridiculous.”

    Just like we all have a right to health insurance… o_O

  17. I especially love how he basically robs all non-voters of their agency, suggesting the only reason they wouldn’t vote is if someone is stopping them. And he’s so profoundly stupid that he spews this ‘friend of the poor’ bullshit while basically arguing to slap said poor with fines for failing to follow state demands.

    Canadian experience, but I’ve never voted in my life and voluntarily chosen to do so because I live in goddamn middle-of-nowhere Ontario and all the candidates suck. I am exercising my freedom of speech and CHOOSING not to support a candidate. Mandatory voting effectively robs me of that choice.

    I can only hope that a hundred years down the road Obama’s quotes are held up as an example of the supreme idiocy of politicians. But I’m pessimistic enough to think that won’t be the case.

    1. A century from now there will fresh stupidity to exhibit.

      1. Yes, but we still remember the past. Mark Antony is not remembered as a classy, well-spoken politician, he’s remembered as a brute. I can only hope that with hindsight Obama’s quotes are held as up as stunning examples of historical early 21st century stupidity.

        1. Are you kidding? A century from now Obama will be on the trillion-dollar note and he’ll have franchise-churches in every American city.

          1. You’re assuming that U.S. will still be around, rather than replaced with the American successor states or the Cyber-Republic.

            And if Elvis and JFK haven’t had a religion formed around them yet I’m not holding out for Obama.

          2. A century for now? Obama Coney Island Restaurant opened in Flint, Michigan, in 2009. It closed approximately a year later, almost like everything else he touched.

          3. + one 100,000,000,000,000 Zimbabwe dollar note

    2. The real mystery is why his sophistry of thought on nearly every issue is taken seriously. Then again, I’ve often wondered why any utterance of Jesse Jackson didn’t immediately result in peals of laughter.

      1. I have wondered this too. My only theory is that he is skilled at *sounding* confident and intellectual to people who don’t know enough to refute the content.

  18. I’m not surprised Obama has never heard of principled non-voting. Jarrett probably doesn’t let him visit websites that would upset him like that.

    1. Oh, I’m sure he has. Principled non-voting is basically saying “Fuck You!” to all the candidates. No wonder he wants to criminalize it.

      1. Has it been on the news?

        That’s how he always finds out stuff.

        No news report how is he suppose to know that it’s an option to have a principled position on voting or Hillary having a non-goverment email account?

    2. Voters can be motivated in a different way. When I worked in a steel mill, United Steel Workers motivated us to vote in union elections with free beer. Worked for me, though I would have voted for my cousin’s brother-in-law anyways.

  19. It’s not like they don’t have precedent to fine people for not doing something. Thanks, Roberts.

  20. Statement from Virginia Booze Cops on the guy they beat up:

    “While monitoring licensed establishments on University Avenue in the City of Charlottesville, uniformed Virginia ABC special agents arrested a 20-year-old male early on the morning of March 18.
    The individual was charged with Public Intoxication and Obstruction of Justice in an incident that occurred at approximately 12:45 a.m. on March 18 in the 1500 block of University Avenue. The uniformed ABC Agents observed and approached the individual after he was refused entry to a licensed establishment. A determination was made by the agents to further detain the individual based on their observations and further questioning.
    In the course of an arrest being made, the arrested individual sustained injuries. The individual received treatment for his injuries at a local hospital and was released.

    Let me try to put that in plain English: We caught a kid trying to sneak into a bar. When he got mouthy, we threw him on the pavement and cuffed him. He busted his head from the fall so we took him to the hospital to stitch him up.

    Reminds me of Idiocracy:

    “Okay, sir. Now we will begin to proceed to obtain your IQ and aptitude test. This is to figure out what your aptitude’s good at, and get you a jail job while you’re being a particular individual in jail.”

  21. Has anyone else ever gotten nasty looks from the poll workers when you decline the offer to take one of their holier-than-thou “I voted” stickers that they are handing out? Or worse, saying out loud something about voting being a private matter of conscience? I do appreciate their efforts to take care of the necessary paperwork of checking people in and out, but one oldster nearly had a stroke that I didn’t want to broadcast my actions to the world.

    1. Surprisingly, my polling place never has those things.

    2. I still remember the shitstorm I caused in the late ’80s when I went to the polls and asked to do a write-in. Nobody had the foggiest notion of how it was done, and I’m sure my write-in vote landed in the shitcan as soon as I left. But the bafflement it all caused was marvelously entertaining.

      1. I wrote my own name in for tax assessor and it was a tie with a few other people. I lost picking straws. I could have won with a five-minute campaign if I had known nobody wanted the job, though the lack of any candidate for the post on the ballot should have been a clue.

    3. Not nasty looks.

      I just look at it with revulsion as if she’s offering me dog poop, wait a bit, and say “not for me, thanks!” and walk on.

      One time I even had the guy behind me say “not for me either!” thus proving being an asshole can win hearts and minds and pave the way for total libertarian victory!!!!

  22. Fuck off, vote slavers.

  23. Voting would in no way stop people from spending money to support candidates or inform voters of their position because the purpose of campaign donations is not to win an elections: It’s to buy access AFTER the election is won. The real ploy is to force the public to give the political class in America political legitimacy, which Obama and those like him clearly covet. Remember after the 2008 election Obama’s crowing about “I won”, and “I have a mandate.”

    And then there’s that inconvenient matter that compulsory voting violates people’s right to free speech (including the right to not speak, such as not state a preference as to who should hold office), and the right to freedom of religion (Jehovah’s Witnesses are forbidden from participating in politics). And while it doesn’t stop the party faithful, it could be conceived of as immoral to force people to vote for candidates they have no knowledge, or even to vote for a candidate they oppose because that is the only name on the ballot.

  24. Obama, trying to find a way around the devil’s bargain of appealing to the unmotivatef and ill informed.

  25. I’ll give you my right to abstain from voting when you pry it from my cold, dead hands.

  26. Just make everyone’s default vote the most progressive option and be done with it. That’ll accomplish the mission and save energy, too.

  27. Not to mention that mandatory voting increases the legitimacy of the ruling class. Right now only about 40% of people vote. Even a “mandate” win in an election is about 25% of the adult population. Mandatory voting magically increases this to 51%.

  28. If everyone thought the right way, the country would be way better off. So there should be mandatory camps that everyone has to go to until they think the right way.

    1. We already have them. They’re called prisons.

  29. “Imagine what sort of insipid, lackluster candidates we’ll get in mandatory elections and what they’ll say or do or promise to try to get the support of people who currently do not feel enough interest to even bother.”

    Yeah, I’m not the first to say that the Dem base includes a lot of people who simply don’t bother to vote. If they could be shamed or coerced into voting, the Dems would win more elections. That’s all there is to it. This civic-responsibility stuff is just a sham.

    Wouldn’t it be interesting if these voters, after getting bullied and threatened by Dems to show up and vote, end up voting *against* the Dems in protest against their tactics? I know, it’s unlikely, but it would be amusing.

  30. The Fascist Messiah likes mandatory voting because he likes ordering people around. As a bonus, mandatory voting would make vote fraud easier (we will see this in Oregon with its universal registration). And it allows him to follow the liberal ideal: “Everything not forbidden is compulsory.”

  31. Just another stupid ideal in a VERY long list of stupid ideas from Obama.

    It’s hardly a surprise.

  32. When you just have one party, The DemocratsandRepublicans, who own both sides of every ballot and never lose an election, voting kinda loses its’ meaning. Mandatory voting would just give the false impression that an election happened.
    Which, I suppose is just what we have now. You know, in 2016, someone will win the Presidency and that person will then turn 180 from their campaign positions and promises, and rule like any Party member. The least important thing in my mind, is whether it’s Scott, Jeb or Hillary…. and obligatory voting will do nothing to fix that.

  33. The real option is automatic registration to vote, as currently being implemented in Oregon. Rather than making citizens take an additional step to register, if the DMV already knows you are a citizen (and you have to be to get a license), then you are registered to vote. The grace period is something like 30 days, when once you receive notification that you get registered to vote unless you request not to be. And even then, once registered, you of course don’t have to vote. Louisiana is working on something similar.

    1. Next you can build monorails from the Ghetto to the urban-democrat polling stations where they hand out free “A+” vouchers for your child’s next public-school exam

      1. I knew Gilmore would be in favor of government exercising its authority and making it more difficult to allow citizens to exercise their rights, like their right to vote.

        I’m sure you are also in favor of government forcing people to register their guns.

    2. if the DMV already knows you are a citizen (and you have to be to get a license)

      Not sure where you got that idea. According to, you need to be “a resident of or domiciled in Oregon” and must present “proof of your legal presence in the U.S.” You don’t have to be a citizen to get an Oregon driver license.

      1. I got it from Oregon, although I misworded it.

        Its true that you don’t have to be a citizen, but the DMV in Oregon knows who many of the citizens are.…../25048243/

        “The computer system will be programmed to select only people who provided proof of citizenship to the DMV. People who provided a green card will not be included in the information given to the secretary of state.”

        “Illegal immigrants cannot get a driver’s license or other government identification and would not be included in that database.”

        1. “The computer system will be programmed to select only people who provided proof of citizenship to the DMV. People who provided a green card will not be included in the information given to the secretary of state.”

          And I’m sure they won’t fuck that up at all, given the state of Orgeon’s proven competence at SW engineering. /sarc

          1. Not to mention Oregon’s difficulties with DMV computer systems in particular.


            “For years, when citing bungled state projects, a $56 million attempt to overhaul the state DMV’s 1960s-era computer system topped the list. In 1993, the Legislature approved funding to update the DMV’s computer systems. But by 1995, problems were evident, with glitches and delays in customer service. In 1996, the bulk of the project was scrapped. More than 20 years after the Legislature greenlit the update, DMV field offices still can’t accept credit and debit cards, and the system’s mainframe has not been replaced, which will likely continue to pose problems.”

  34. It boggles the mind that ANY American president would say that voting should be mandatory. It’s the dumbest thing Obama has ever said. And if I was forced to vote, why would the industries spend LESS money to get my vote?

    I’m pretty convinced that Obama is the black (albeit more eloquent) Alan Grayson. An angry leftist, kook given too much power to try out his Utopian fantasy on the American people.

    I’m honestly tired of watching the guy throw snide temper tantrums every time he speaks. And we can stop pretending as if he’s a “friend of Israel”. The guy was and is surrounded by antisemites.

    I wonder why a country as dumb as America deserve this kind of prosperity (compared to the hellholes elsewhere). I think 22 year olds should spend at least one year in Japan or Australia, where minimum wage is high and healthcare is free! Make it mandatory, and see how they like America then.

  35. “Obama complained about all the television ads during election season.”

    Why the fuck is he just sitting around watching TV?

    On the other hand, I guess it’s better that he does or he’d just be fucking up more shit.

  36. Oh, great. Instead of two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch, we’ll have three wolves and a sheep. But consider this, if the next president of the United States cannot figure out how to have two e-mail accounts accessible on one device, how are those who don’t vote going to figure out the voting machine?

  37. ohhh, i don’t know…. it might be a good thing? at least it would get the lazy Dems off their butts and out to go vote.

    but as it is? the Repubs would never, ever pass such a bill. they’d be too afraid that if it were passed and all the Dems had to actually vote that the Repubs would get annihilated at the polls.

    and i totally disagree that this would make the 2 major parties lazy. on the contrary, i think that both parties would bust their humps to make sure that they had good candidates.

    1. While this is a valid fear, such a thing may also backfire on the Democrats. For example, it’s likely that Mitt Romney lost because he couldn’t inspire enough people to get out to vote for him. Had those uninspired people been *forced* to vote, is it conceivable that at least some of them would have voted for him? Certainly. Would it have been enough (and would enough of the apathetic Democrats have just voted for some Green candidate)? It’s hard to say.

      In any case, this is yet another example of trying to change the rules to change the outcome in their favor, when the reality is that no one can really tell what the effects of a given rule change is going to be.

      Kindof like when Massachusetts changed how vacant Senate seats are filled, because they didn’t like the idea of Republican Mitt Romney filling the seat of the terminally ill Ted Kennedy. When Kennedy passed away, they had a Democrat Governor, and the seat was *still* filled by a Republican, by popular vote. Oh, the irony!

  38. I have a great idea. Any registered voter who fails to cast a ballot by closing time on federal Election Day automatically votes “No Confidence” against the federal government. Problem solved.

  39. “So it becomes an obligation, like paying your taxes. You don’t have a right to pay your taxes; you have an obligation to pay your taxes, and you get penalized if you don’t do it.”
    That does not sound like something a true libertarian would say.

  40. On the other hand if all those who are “forced” to vote were to vote “Libertarian”… Even for Presidential elections the turnout (2012) was only about 58% of all eligible voters. And only a little over half of those voted for Obama. Who won 51.1% of the vote. Or a bit less than 30% of all those who could have voted. So a bit over 70% of those possible voters didn’t either vote or didn’t vote for Obama for President.

  41. I think it’s so cool when you can turn a civil right into tyranny.

    I wonder what the fine will be or if there will be jail time.

  42. You will vote, and you will enjoy it!

  43. This would be great as long as there was an option to choose “I don’t really give a shit let them battle to the death.”

  44. I will go along with mandatory voting when ballots are mandated to include

    “E) None of the above”

  45. I don’t think voting should ever be mandatory, but by the same token, I think we need a reset switch if enough voters don’t register or cast ballots. There needs to be a “quorum rule” in elections, so that the active minority can’t foist officials or legislation on the the majority (whether the latter don’t vote as a form of protest or are merely apathetic). Here in California, for example, the “majority” that passed the horrible “top two” primary system was actually a very small minority of both eligible voters and registered voters, because the measure was up for vote during a primary election that was infamous for low voter participation.

    Also, I object to the description of Australia’s voting system as being “very complicated, with voters ranking candidates by preference.” Maybe it IS complicated — I’ve never voted in an Australian election — but not because of preference-ranking: Tedious, perhaps, if there are many candidates or competing measures on a ballot, but not complicated or difficult on the account of ranking. I would like to see American ballots allow voters to rank their preferences. This would enable us to use vote-counting methods that more accurately determine the true level of public support for a candidate or measure from the ballots cast, as well as eliminate the need for costly runoff elections.

  46. The only thing worse than mandatory voting is the new mobile site. Every time I tried scrolling through the comments here, it kept directing me to the Tunisia story. I finally gave up and just looked at this on my laptop.

  47. I’m all for it as long as “None of the Above” is on the ballot and if NOTA wins, the second place candidate is not automatically declared the winner. I’d love to hear election night reporting that NOTA took 60%+ of the vote. Who knows, the partys might just have to move away from their extremist positions and accept the will of the people. I currently don’t vote because I see my choice as between eating an elephant poop sandwich and a donkey poop sandwich. Sorry, I’m not in the poop eating business!

  48. This article was an amazing insult to our intelligence. And then I read the drivel that the right-wing conservatives that Reason caters to nowadays are leaving here in the comments, and realized that he is just writing to his audience.
    Mandatory voting is not a violation of our freedom of speech. It is not an imposition. For God’s sake, try to man up a little.
    Here is the actual argument Reason is making. Reason is funded by crony capitalists who are on the record as being against voting to begin with. Mandatory voting will dilute the power of crony capitalists. Therefore, Reason will come up with bogus arguments, throw in the completely misused words ‘rights’ and ‘freedom’, collect their paycheck and go on home.

    1. Wow once you start reading what you wrote it is so funny Total Occupier

    2. Can I borrow your tin foil hat?

      1. No. It’s attached with galvanized roofing nails.

  49. Oboso will enact that as soon as he gets America down to one party. Chicago Gangster Politics Inc.

  50. Although I do not support the existence of government, and hence the use of voting to select it (although I do so as an act of self defense), I propose four alternative measures to mandatory voting:

    1) Eliminate “special” status for political parties. Political parties could still exist, but would be granted no special powers in selecting candidates for ballots. They would simply become political action committees.

    2) Make ballot access contingent upon paying the marginal cost of including the candidate or issue on the ballot. This should be relatively low, but might be higher in areas which produce printed voting guides. Initiatives would clearly have a higher marginal cost than candidates, unless candidates are allowed to include position statements, etc. on the ballot proper.

    3) Mandate a “None of the Above” option for all candidates. This would prevent the position from being filled for the duration of the term.

    4) Rather than list presidential candidates on the ballot, list, individually, the candidate electors. This would allow candidate electors to hold positions that allow them a measure of flexibility over pledging to support a single president/vice president ticket.

    1. in areas which produce printed voting guides

      I didn’t realize this was the exception rather than the rule. Oregon sends a voters’ pamphlet to every household in the state. In 2008 it was 200 pages long and had to be split into two volumes.

      1. Used to love the Guides we got in CA. NC doesn’t do this, and I think it’s a major fail.

  51. Ballot Question 1: Do you support imposing capital punishment against the President for the war crimes he has committed?

    1. The NRA included a voter’s guide in their magazines. The Libertarians had a question mark beside their names. I never renewed my membership after that.

  52. Mandatory voting plus the option to affirmatively decline to vote solves all of the problems you’ve identified.

  53. Reasons to require voting is two fold.
    1. it eliminates the need for ID’s thus everyone legal or otherwise votes
    2. when people are required to do something by the government there are always people who are considered incapable thus allowing the government to create more handouts to those people making more people dependent on the state and those people will never vote against the democrats mainly

  54. +1 for TURD SANDWICH

    1. probably be the new president, senator & rep

  55. Because MOAR democracy or something!

    I’d rather it be that if you don’t pay income taxes, you’re ineligible to vote in Federal elections. After all, it’s not your money they’re spending.

  56. Those who are ignorant of the issues have a civil obligation to NOT vote. This is a transparent attempt to take advantage of the ignorant — the young and immigrants.

  57. You can’t force me to read this article !

  58. I’m for mandatory voting, on one condition;

    Every ballot must have a line for “Hang all the candidates along with their top five aids and start over next year”, and if that option receives a majority of tye votes, it must be carried out.

    1. Having a spot to vote “None Of The Above” could send the same message, but considering which group would have to approve of that change (the Incumbents), there’s the chance of a snowball in hell of that ever seeing the light of day.
      Follow the Power and Control.

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  61. Voting is not a right, no matter what is said in posters. It is a franchise – a privilege – one of the few that government has the actual constitutional power to grant or revoke.

  62. Shackford is correct, mandatory voting goes against the very founding principles of America ~ remember those? Given the present Chief Executive’s health care program, his view as it relates to the country’s founding principles is well understood (a constitutional scholar, no less, I believe); hence, this proposal is not out of sync with the President’s unconstitutional mode of thinking.

    The question is, Why is the under 45 set so seemingly indifferent to the US debt build up, budget spending crisis and government pension crisis, as reflected in the age group’s indifference (apathy, call it what one will) at the polls? Has Reason studied this national issue?

    Mandatory voting is not the solution.

  63. Somehow this reminds me of the time when, I believe it was, Clinton running for the Presidency.

    His teams seemed to float incredibly inane ideas as ‘goals’ on practically a weekly basis. I couldn’t fathom the stupidity of what they were doing until I finally guessed that every weird idea was a ‘trial balloon’ to see what the Public’s reaction would be.

    If few enough people laughed at or pee’d on the “idea,” it would become part of the Party’s Platform and advertising campaigns.

    This time, I think everything from the EPA’s barbecue-Nazi rules to O’s Mandatory Voting is a smoke screen to distract us all from something they don’t want us to notice.

    I’m waiting for that shoe to drop, in very nervous anticipation.

  64. Once there is mandatory voting, the libertarian moment will truly be upon us.

  65. Here is the voting fix, just in time for 2016

  66. Obama knows, so do informed Americans, that half of Americans forced to vote and whom are not informed… would vote for the best liar. that worked for Obama, he believes Americans interests are best served if Americans vote, but aren’t aware of what they are voting for.
    For the half of the population that stays informed, he wishes them to all be forced to vote, for the apparent least worst candidate, essentially, is the one whom smears the other candidate the best, it worked for him to get to the Senate.

    Better, any other systems to help enable voting, better the history of candidates was filed on Public sites.. the good and bad, each voter has to read, sign off on it, that way, unlike Obama’s sealing his records after his first ‘win’, people understood the candidate.. and if they try to ‘Seal’ the records.. a record is available to show, in Obama’s case, the return of favor to the sealing Canadian Judge who’s wife was paid off with a no-bid contract for the ACA/.Gov/180 MILLION $ CONTRACT.

    Forced voting for candidates, more corrupt than the last, qualified by the sociopath two Parties, RNC and DNC (DNC disqualified 5 competitors for Obama that had prior public service while Obama had none so Obama was ‘the DNC’ Choice for the Senate seat), doesn’t serve America, just furthers the ‘biggest liar wins’.
    Without transparency, we are only given ever worse Candidates to choose from.

    Without information, those that have info, take advantage, they Grubber you, and laugh.

  67. You can always count on Obama to attack freedom and want to make decisions for everyone on every life choice.
    Sometimes not voting is a vote. You are simply telling the parties they presented no one worthy of my support.

  68. One thing even many Australians don’t understand, is that voting itself is not compulsory here. We still have a secret ballot, so only attendance at a polling place is mandatory. Once you’ve crossed your name off, you can turn around and walk out without voting, or submit a blank ballot, and no one can stop you (many people use the opportunity to write poems or insults, or draw penises on their ballots). The advantage compulsory voting has for political parties, is that they don’t need to raise millions from donors to pay to “get out the vote”. Personally I oppose compulsory voting, but there is zero interest in changing it, no one cares. Also preferential voting is not complicated, it’s simple, a child could do it. The combination of preferential voting, and compulsory voting ensures that every vote is counted, unlike the typical US presidential elections – Bill Clinton won on the votes of around 16% of the population in 1992.

  69. why not have the internet used for voting? and then they must treat the internet as a utility like the road system everyone uses to vote with today. none of our so called leaders want to do that? then i dont need a leader, i dont need to be led. where does that vote go?

  70. I believe we should have potential voters submit to an EEG to insure there is at least a modicum of brain activity. As someone who consumes a ton of news and opinion I’m appalled at the willful ignorance of the average voter.

  71. Oh Democracy. A idea so great you must force people to participate.

  72. I suspect Obama knows all of this, but what we see as bugs he sees as features.

  73. When I first met my Australian husband and moved to Australia, I was horrified by the idea of mandatory voting. After all, voting fo no one is also a valid vote.

    But I must say I do like the idea of proportional voting. It enables you to vote your conscience, but not throw your vote away if your candidate only has a slim chance of winning. If your first candidate doesn’t win, your vote changes to your second choice.

    It’s not that complicated, and could work here.

  74. Tell your candidate to submit his fMRI/Integrity report before you vote for him in elections;…..543509.cms

  75. If the king is so worried about campaign money…then why don’t he try to get legislation to ban donations outside a candidates district? if its anything i’m sick of its pac money coming from one state or district to another.

  76. The entire analysis here should start and stop at “mandatory.” There is no reason to go forward beyond that, as any additional arguments over the specifics of voting — or anything else — concedes the premise that our lives are not our own.

  77. I make up to $90 an hour working from my home. My story is that I quit working at Walmart to work online and with a little effort I easily bring in around $40h to $86h Someone was good to me by sharing this link with me, so now i am hoping i could help someone else out there by sharing this link… Try it, you won’t regret it!….


  78. The only reason for wanting the unconstitutional mandate to vote is to get all the manipulable people, no other reason strikes me as possible, except from the mind of a child.

  79. “Third, Australia’s parliamentary system is completely different from America’s. They have a proportional voting system, not a “winner takes all” system. Their voting process is very complicated, with voters ranking candidates by preference. Australia has more than two political parties with representation in its parliament, and the voting system sometimes results in the creation of ruling coalitions (right now it’s a group of center-right political parties).”

    As an Australian political scientist, I was surprised to learn this. The proportional representation (single transferable vote) system to which you refer applies only to the upper house. The lower house, from which the government derives its authority just as it would in the UK or Canada, is elected on the basis of a “winner takes all” single-member constituency system. It is true that there is presently a “coalition” government, but most people in PR countries wouldn’t understand it as such – the junior party in the coalition, the National Party, is a sort of rural franchise of its senior partner, the Liberal Party, and would never think to form a coalition with anyone else. We are very much a two-party system, in which the two sides of politics alternate in office. While I happen not to support mandatory voting, I don’t see that the distinctions between the Australian and American electoral systems are relevant to the argument.

  80. Third, Australia’s parliamentary system is completely different from America’s. They have a proportional voting system, not a “winner takes all” system. Their voting process is very complicated, with voters ranking candidates by preference. Australia has more than two political parties with representation in its parliament, and the voting system sometimes results in the creation of ruling coalitions (right now it’s a group of center-right political parties). Comparing America’s voting system to Australia’s is as silly as comparing it to North Korea’s, but for different reasons.

    As an Australian political scientist, I was a bit surprised to learn this. The proportional representation system to which you refer only applies to the upper house. The lower house, from which the government derives its authority just as it does in the UK and Canada, is elected on the basis of a “winner-takes-all” single-member constituency system. It is true that there is presently a coalition government, but people in PR countries wouldn’t understand it as such. The junior partner in the coalition, the National Party, is a kind of rural franchise of its senior partner, the Liberal Party, and would never think to form a coalition with anyone else. We are very much a two-party system in which the two sides alternate in office. While I don’t happen to support mandatory voting, I don’t see that the distinction between the American and Australian electoral systems has any bearing on the matter.

  81. Disregarding racist Smith’s suggestion and moving on to racist Obama’s suggestion,
    the logic of mandatory voting is absurd – we have long known that those who do not vote are typically not interested in politics and have little knowledge of same. Therefore Obama’s brainless suggestion would recommend that the average vote be based on greater ignorance than at present. Just what e need, more ignorance in the voting booth. What we should be doing is
    attempting to become an actual democracy, in which the Congress becomes a debating platform
    for proposed new laws. Obama would hate that, since the voters disapprove of virtually everything he’s doing or has done for the past 6 years.

  82. If required to vote, I will simply write in Bugs Bunny.

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