Up for Debate: Compulsory Voting – Yes, voting should be mandatory

Let me start out by saying that it’s very rare of me to support “big government’s” laws forced on the little guy. Legislation telling me how much of a tax I should pay, or how much carbon my car can poison the Earth with, or what drugs I can and can’t use for my mild insomnia are not my favorite.

I do think, however, that compulsory voting is a fantastic idea. There are a number of convincing reasons why we should be required to vote (lest we want something like defenestration, which would be the only logical response to the civil disobedience of not voting), and, personally, I don’t see anything that can go wrong with it.

Somebody once said, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” And while this Communist didn’t do a lot of things right, he did manage to get a decent quote out. Doing something for our fine country is exactly what voting is all about. Much like jury duty, military registration and putting our religious view on our car bumpers, voting is our civic duty. We’re obligated, as upstanding patriots, to ensure the continuing success of our country, and the voting process is the best way to do that.

Don’t get me wrong though, I agree with Kerry that people are stupid. I mean, with a president and 45.4 percent of Congress being Democratic, I don’t know many people that would argue that. However, it’s people’s IQ-challenged-ness that, I think, strengthens the argument for mandatory voting. If you look at the demographics of people who vote, you’ll find that if you are poor, more educated, poor, a working woman, gay, poor or go to church less than once per month, you are more likely to vote Democrat. Interesting. Clearly, there are more Democrats going out to the polls because the rich people are too busy doing important things, like working, or not finishing college, or not being an Atheist heathen.

If voting was forced, this would cause a lot more upper-class, Republicans to be able to come out to the booths. Keep in mind, we only had approximately 40.1 percent of the population voting in the last midterm election. If we had the untapped population of people making over $200,000 per year (like our very own Professor Steinert, who made $948,959.53 last year (insert comment about increased cost of tuition), we would be able to dilute some of the liberal voting population. I think we can all agree that’s a good idea.

I don’t agree with Kerry that when Americans vote, bad things follow. Let’s not forget that when we had upwards of 59.9 percent of the population (more than half), we had great people like Reagan. When we had 67 percent voting, Nixon!  I think it’s safe to say that there is a positive correlation between amount of people voting and the greatness of the elected president.

I understand the idea that this would effectively take away what is, arguably, people’s most important freedom; the freedom to choose their involvement in something. However, is it really that big of a deal? Sure, religious freedoms would be nixed (Jehovah’s Witnesses, Anabaptists, Hutterites, Mennonites, the Amish, Evangelicals and many separatist Congregationalists often have strong views against voting), and there would be another notch on the “People losing more and more freedoms everyday” bedpost, but would that really bother people? I mean, taking away individual freedoms is our government’s specialty. It’s what we do best. And the Patriot Act went over with the public so well!

And I understand that a main argument is that people that are “ignorant” of the issues (or the solutions) will be forced to the polls. The fact is, these people already exist. They’re called “liberals.” And, keep in mind, that if a person really doesn’t find any of the candidates or issues appealing, then they can submit what is known as a “spoilt vote.” This is when you waste a vote on something like “none of the above” or “Ralph Nader.” So, please, don’t say that making people vote is just going to force apathetic, ignorant people out of the woodwork. That’s just silly, and I’m trying to be serious.

Perhaps the problem isn’t that we’re not forcing everyone to vote, but that the voting process is … ah, who am I kidding? The problem is that we keep trying to elect smart presidents (Obama is suspected of having a genius-level IQ of around 145), when what we need is more fun presidents! Bring back the cocaine-addict, drunk-driving, illiterate presidents we all love so much. If we kept boring, stuffy intellectuals like Al “Bore” Gore off the podium, we wouldn’t even have issues like global warming.

If we got more people out to vote, I’m sure the public would agree with me, and we could vote to put all these real problems back into the box, where we never have to talk about them again. Sounds like a good idea to me.

Justin Huft is a third-year psychology and social behavior major. He can be reached at jhuft@uci.edu.