Why Tuesday?

Get Involved

Obama: Maybe Mandatory Voting?

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Yesterday President Obama floated an idea our cofounder Norm Ornstein previously proposed in 2012 and 2006: mandatory voting might be the best way to increase America’s lousy voter participation.

Here’s what Norm said back in 2012:

In my view, the best way to ameliorate this malign dynamic is to find ways to enlarge the electorate in primaries and general elections — to move our politics to where persuadable voters in the middle have more impact. If I could do one thing to counter our dysfunction, it would be to adopt a version of the Australian system of mandatory attendance at the polls.

And 2006:

If there were mandatory voting in America, there’s a good chance that the ensuing reduction in extremist discourse would lead to genuine legislative progress. These days, valuable Congressional time is spent on frivolous or narrow issues (flag burning, same-sex marriage) that are intended only to spur on the party bases and ideological extremes. Consequently, important, complicated issues (pension and health-care reform) get short shrift.There’s no question that compulsory voting would be a tough sell. Congress would have to pass a law and the states would have to enforce it. Surveys on the subject regularly show substantial majorities opposed to the idea. Americans don’t like compulsory anything — we value the freedom not to vote.

But going to the polls doesn’t mean that you have to vote for a particular candidate. About three percent of Australians, for example, mark X on the ballot, the equivalent of “none of the above.”

Comments are closed.

About Us

Why Tuesday? is a non-partisan, nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization founded in 2005 to find solutions to increase voter turnout and participation in elections... More

The Answer

In 1845, before Florida, California, and Texas were states or slavery had been abolished, Congress needed to pick a time for Americans to vote... More

Recent Comments

Patrick, France is a post-Christian secular country. Relatively few of them attend church, and voting on Sunday does not interfere with their religious practices, because most of the population is not religious...

Posted by John on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

In France they last voted on a Sunday. France is despite the Bourbon legacy a largely Catholic country, yet they vote on Sunday...

Posted by Patrick on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?

I think weekend voting would make the most sense, as people wouldn't have tu run home after work or wake up early to hit the polling stations beforehand.

Posted by Zander on blog post Why Do We Vote On Tuesday?