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Compulsory voting

(47 Posts)
nanna8 Tue 05-Dec-23 10:29:11

We have it in Australia ,probably because many wouldn’t bother otherwise and that would leave the way open for stacked votes, dictatorships and general manipulation of the whole population. Initially , when we first came 50 years ago,I was horrified and thought it was a big brother sort of thing but I now think it is necessary here. I am sure it would never occur in the UK but maybe it should. Our voting rates are around 92% overall .

Juliet27 Tue 05-Dec-23 10:35:52

I believe you can be fined for not voting there?

Witzend Tue 05-Dec-23 10:39:51

I wish we had it. Then at least people who couldn’t be bothered can’t moan about the result - though of course they still will.
Given postal voting, there’s very little excuse now.

It was particularly galling that so many young people who couldn’t be bothered to vote in the Brexit referendum were
so indignant about the outcome.

rosie1959 Tue 05-Dec-23 10:47:24

I suspect if they made it compulsory there would be a lot of spoiled voting papers to count. Some people really don’t give a fig about politics

Germanshepherdsmum Tue 05-Dec-23 10:49:35

I think you’re right rosie.

maddyone Tue 05-Dec-23 10:53:45

I think I’m going to put none of the above on my voting slip, because I cannot see how I can possibly give my vote to any of the lot on offer.
I’ve never done that before, but I’ve never been so utterly disillusioned with politics before either.

nanna8 Tue 05-Dec-23 11:38:42

I have been a poll clerk here at times and the number of spoiled votes is surprisingly low. Wouldn’t be more than 1% at the two booths I was involved with. More often they don’t follow the rules, especially voting for the senate where you have to number who you want in order.

welbeck Tue 05-Dec-23 11:41:52

no need to spoil the ballot paper.
i believe in australia there is an option, none of the above.
so you just have to present yourself at the polling station, take and use a ballot paper, not necessarily vote for a candidate, so that you are involved in the democratic process.
likewise for postal voting.
i can't see any real objection to that system.
what do others think, if we had it in uk ?

Witzend Tue 05-Dec-23 12:32:56


I think I’m going to put none of the above on my voting slip, because I cannot see how I can possibly give my vote to any of the lot on offer.
I’ve never done that before, but I’ve never been so utterly disillusioned with politics before either.

I did once vote for the Monster Raving Loony candidate, since I couldn’t bring myself to vote for either of the two who virtually ‘take turns’ to win, but I couldn’t bring myself not to vote, or to spoil my ballot paper, either.

OldFrill Tue 05-Dec-23 12:47:36

Just a few questions I'd have.
How would you find/sanction those that didn't vote? What would the financial cost be? What allowances would be made, if any, for religious views, age, health etc? How would people prove they didn't have to vote under these allowances? How much longer would the count take? If it's paper ballot how much more expense/waste in people/material costs? If electronic ballot would there be enough accessibility for all?

M0nica Tue 05-Dec-23 15:38:26

if voting were compulsory, I would not vote. The whole point of democracy is that you can choose to participate or not.

Anyway, as they say, you can take a horse to water, but you cannot make it drink. Even of everyone turns up at a voting station and collects a ballot paper, you cannot make them vote, they can scribble all over the paper, put it in the box unmarked, write rude words on it.

You could have compulsory voting and only 10% of the population casting valid votes.

winterwhite Tue 05-Dec-23 17:50:37

Not sure I agree that the 'whole point of democracy is that you can choose whether to participate or not'. Democracies have rules and laws.

Compulsory voting would e costly, since the names of those who voted would have to be checked against the electoral register and (presumably) fines issued to non-voters. How collectable the fines would be is another matter.

We would also need to move away from first past the post to a system where everyone's vote does count. That's the crux of the matter.

rafichagran Tue 05-Dec-23 18:02:55

No I don't agree with compulsory voting. I would not vote if this is the case. We live in a democracy.

M0nica Tue 05-Dec-23 21:50:15

What is the evidence that compulsory voting achieves anything that isn't achieved by non-compulsory voting

Galaxy Tue 05-Dec-23 21:53:40

I am just instinctively against compulsory voting.

Oreo Tue 05-Dec-23 22:03:14

I feel torn on this issue.It could be looked on as a civic duty, on the other hand should it really be forced on people? What about people with mental health problems for a start, you can’t fine them.

NotSpaghetti Wed 06-Dec-23 01:56:53

I am also against Compulsory voting...
And I've also written none of these on my ballot paper more than once.

Re Brexit, Witzend- I think many really didn't see how important it was.

grandMattie Wed 06-Dec-23 05:18:49

I’m rather ambivalent.
I feel, especially for women, that the democratic vote was hard won and it is incumbent on oneself to use one’s right.
I think politics are too complicated/game-playing just for power and voters have become cynical and don’t understand what will happen - who does? They feel that whichever party wins, nothing will change. So they don’t vote. Or vote as their family always has.

nanna8 Wed 06-Dec-23 05:59:59

They find you - and fine you ! You can make excuses which they may or may not accept. When you vote they cross your name off a list of residents. Mostly you go to your local polling stations but if you are away they have a special section where you have to go and get ticked off. Where Money in their pockets is concerned they seem to be quite proficient.

Curtaintwitcher Wed 06-Dec-23 07:42:16

I don't agree with that at all. Many people don't take any interest in politics and never bother to vote. Surely it's better for votes to be a genuine choice rather than 'any old box will do, so long as I have voted'.

M0nica Wed 06-Dec-23 08:07:57

nanna8 Going to a polling station and collecting a ballot form and being ticked off a list is not voting.

What do the Austraalian government do to force you to make a valid vote? What is to stop you screwing the form up and dropping it on the floor, putting it in your pocket and taking it home with you, or scribbling all over the ballot paper without voting?

NotSpaghetti Wed 06-Dec-23 08:43:58

If we had a system where every vote counted nobody would need to "spoil" their ballot paper.

biglouis Wed 06-Dec-23 08:58:09

The day will come when you can get up in the morning and scroll through your mobile device over breakfast. There would be a number of issues to vote on (or ignore) and a time limit in which to do so. If you needed more info you could click on a link or ask the equivalent of Alexa. Would we then need anything as old fashioned as parliament with its archaic ceremonials? Or trolling along in person to some school or church to "vote",

That would be true democracy.

Katie59 Wed 06-Dec-23 09:21:23

Despite having compulsory voting in Australia as well as PR it does not produce a government that lasts, there is a very high turnover of leaders.

Not that the UK can claim better in recent years.

Spuddy Wed 06-Dec-23 10:05:12

Here in the UK, they'll just have to fine me. I refuse to vote for a bunch of two-faced fraudsters.