Erica Mauter ORLD 6300 - Position Paper 3The Benefits of Compulsory VotingProponents of compulsory voting identify the following benefits: elimination of partisanadvantage imbued by turnout discrepancies, electoral engagement as reflected in votingparticipation rates, consideration of the entire electorate by candidates, improvedlegitimacy of the elected government, additional resources for the government, and
fulfillment of citizens’ civic duty (Evans, 2006). Let’s look at each of these factors.
Partisan Advantage in Turnout Discrepancies
Compulsory voting would eliminate voter access issues and hence reduce or eliminatepartisan advantage caused by voter suppression or turnout activities. When the entireelectorate is participating, these tactics are rendered moot. For example, it is a commonpolitical tactic to put divisive social issues on the ballot to drive turnout of voters who aremost moved by such an issue and thus to have the side effect of increasing votes forcandidates in a particular party. As another example, in the United States, common wisdomis that improved turnout tends to favor the Democratic Party. There are many recent examples of state-level legislation that restricts the ability to cast a ballot; those effortshave been led by the Republican party. Broader turnout also eliminates the effects of the
“enthusiasm gap” between the registered and likely voters of each party.
Electoral Engagement: Voting Participation Rates
Evans’ (2006) report for the Australian Electoral Commission (AEC) refutes opponents’
argument that compulsory voting leads to increased numbers of ballots representing adeliberate intent to
vote. In Australia, there are two such kinds of ballots: “informalvotes” and “donkey votes.” Informal votes are incomplete or
incorrectly completed ballots.Donkey votes are complete ballots submitted with non-random (thus, presumably, non-