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Compulsory voting

Mike McCartney

27th April 2022

The view from Australia

A hat tip to one of my colleagues @tutor2upolitics for coming across this video.

Readers of the blog will no doubt be aware that there are not only different types of voting systems in different countries, but there are also differences in methods of voting. For example, in the USA and the UK there are postal votes. Elections take place in those countries on weekdays; in the United States a nineteenth century federal law dictates that they are always held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November; in Britain, scholars put the preferred day of Thursday down to cultural reasons. The recent poll for the French presidency was on a Sunday. In fact most democracies throughout the world have Sunday has their chosen day to go to the ballot box. And until recently France used machines to count ballots, while one of the first countries to employ them, the USA, continues to plough ahead with them.

This brings us to the idea of compulsory voting. The legal requirement to vote is not as common throughout the world as Sunday voting, and not many countries (or regions for that matter) enforce it, so Australia is unusual. So what's going on?

Watch this little clip from the BBC.

Explain the arguments in clip

Research the issue further, using sources such as the Electoral Reform Society. There is a link here. As another start off point, there are some more arguments here.

Discuss whether you support the introduction of compulsory voting in the UK

Mike McCartney

Mike is an experienced A-Level Politics teacher, author and examiner.

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