No advertisements to encourage people to vote, no projects like “Y-Vote” and probably “TH!NK ABOUT IT” would be necessary, no discussions and doubts about “should I or shouldn’t I vote” would ever take place IF…the voting were compulsory!
I started to ponder on EP elections as compulsory after meeting two Australian students. I was telling them how people in Europe are being encouraged to go and vote months before the elections take place and especially concerning EP elections. And then they told me how easy it is in Australia: you just have to vote. And what if you don’t? You are punished – usually by fine.
“I simply forgot about my local elections and therefore had to pay a fine of 25 Euros,” remembers Lauren Day, a student from Australia. However, she supports the compulsory voting system and blames herself for not voting. Lauren thinks that compulsory voting makes people follow politics, because they realize they will have to vote anyway. Australian Sophie Tarr adds that compulsory election system gives an opportunity for those who are not represented to gain a representation in society.
Also in EU there’s a country where voting is compulsory. It’s Belgium where people have to vote compulsory for all elections - federal, European, regional, city elections and others. However, though the compulsory voting in Belgium means to present oneself at the day of the elections, not necessarily vote, 99, 99 % of the people in Belgium don’t know it, affirms Bart.
“Compulsory elections are a good thing. Nowadays many people have forgotten that many people died to have the right to vote,” reminds Bart Van Bael, a citizen of Belgium. “The outcome of elections should be a result of the variety in society,” says Bart. He thinks that compulsory voting is good for the weak and unknown and uninterested, even if they give a protest vote to extreme left or right because they are forced to vote.
I find the arguments for having compulsory voting system rather good and I think that people would really follow politics more if they know they have to vote. Besides, it’s important to get the all the society represented. Especially after talking to my parents who in spite of following politics and criticizing it a lot are certain not to go to vote for both national and EP elections (taking place on the same day in Latvia) makes me think that the reasons for not voting are more than just unawareness of politics. There are people who just forget, don’t take elections seriously or just don’t want to contribute to the society they are living at. And compulsory elections could help them to realize it.