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The Case For Mandatory Voting In Canada

3118 words - 12 pages

Since the turn of the twenty first century, in Canada voter turnout has made a significant and consecutive decline. In the last five federal elections on average only sixty-one per cent of eligible voters voted. If each eligible citizen voted in an election the government would be on par with the primary interests of the people. The easiest way to achieve this objective is by implementing a compulsory voting system. Mandatory voting systems are appealing because all citizens are affected by decisions made by the government, so it makes sense to have all those affected apart of the election process. As a result, the voting results would be more representative of the country and that would lead to an increase of stability and legitimacy. It would also be beneficial to Canadians because would cause political parties to address and focus on the needs of every socio-economic level. However, one of biggest problems that accompanies mandatory voting laws is that the choice to exercise the right to vote is taken away. Another primary concern about compulsory voting is that a large number of uninterested and uninformed voters are brought to the polls. Conversely, uninformed voters will become familiar with and learn the polling procedures and electoral system over time and uninterested voters are not forced to mark a name on the ballot. Compulsory voting laws would only make registration and attendance at the polls mandatory, not voting itself. Therefore the freedom to exercise the right to vote or not is still intact. A greater emphasis on alternate voting practices may be established such as electronic or online voting. Positive changes would not only be evident in the policies of political parties but also in the voting procedure. These are some of the changes that would come as a result of compulsory voting practices in Canada. The easiest way to achieve these improvements is to implement mandatory voting regulations. The Canadian government should adopt a compulsory voting system in order to increase voter turnout, for it assures optimal representation of all Canadians and restores power to each individual.
To every political system there are many positives and negatives and one critique of compulsory voting systems is that informal and uninterested voting is increased. It has been advocated that compulsory voting brings a large amount of “uninterested voters” to the polls and in turn cast votes that are clearly inconsistent with their own political values compared to those who are more informed and motivated voluntary voters (Selb and Latchat, 2009). In this case the primary concern is when people are forced to vote they will either pick a candidate at random or spoil their ballot which consequently, does not make the outcome of the election representative of the people’s interests. If certain individuals are not interested in politics they should not be forced to contribute in one of the most salient political statements practiced in Canada...

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