VOTE: Should voting (or actively abstaining) be compulsory?

In 2010, nearly 16 million registered electors did not turn out to vote. Is compulsory voting the answer?


In 2010, nearly 16 million registered electors did not turn out to vote. Next month a similar figure probably won’t make it to the polls.

Against this backdrop, some have called for voting to be made compulsory. One of those is Labour MP David Winnick, who has suggested that voting be made a ‘civic duty’. Similarly, the IPPR think tank has recommended compulsory first time voting, which it says could ’empower’ young people.

On the other hand, isn’t compelling people to vote a sign of democratic failure? Don’t politicians simply need to offer people an inspiring message which they actually want to vote for?

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29 Responses to “VOTE: Should voting (or actively abstaining) be compulsory?”

  1. damon

    I was thinking about registering last night before the deadline, but then forgot.
    No big deal, it would make no difference to anything.
    No it shouldn’t be compulsory.

  2. littleoddsandpieces

    If voting is compulsory, then there would also have to be state funding of political parties who reach sufficient membership numbers to get equal media coverage by law as in Europe.

    Right now Damon below is just another person, who is unaware of the 6th and 7th parties on the ballot sheet, that could have brought in over 250 guaranteed anti austerity MPs, that is a vital and powerful opposition to austerity cuts.

    Right now we are in a dictatorship.

    The Tories have already won.

    Labour has already lost even if it gains a few more MPs than the Tories.

    The 75 per cent poor vote is disenfranchised by the national press and TV news doing a complete media silence.

    Nothing is said about the parties that are for the poor.

    The poor being all from the bottom of the average wage down to zero, in work or not, poor pensioners
    or those denied any state pension for life from 2016.

    See why at end of my petition, in my WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT section at:

    The civic duty is not being done by the media, by not informing the bulk of the people about parties who should, by the rules, be getting fair media coverage.

    Labour could indeed have become smaller than the group of anti austerity parties come together in a powerful opposition.

    This could still happen.

    Tactical voting is on my little personal website, if only the people would share my website on their Twitter and Facebook pages, with links to the parties locked out of the media’s gaze.

    2010 saw a landslide victory for the non-voters, with the so-called winning Tory or Labour or Lib Dem as low as 15,000 votes against up to 50,000 non-voters in voting areas with up to only 80,000 voters all told.

    That is 80,000 voters who were registered to vote.

    More people are not registered to vote today than there were in 2010.

    So the media has destroyed democracy and brought in a dictatorship.


  3. Robert

    My wife said do not forget to register but I did not bother. being disabled who the heck would I vote for.


    Even the dead get a vote in Oirland.

  5. damon

    I don’t know …… whoever you fancied. Tory? Labour?


    There is no excuse for not voting. You can have postal or proxy. The real poor in the old days walked to the polling stn to get change for us and they did. I think the poor as you call them are happy with their lot and are to fn lazy to vote.

  7. Robert

    Labour ATOS WCA and ESA, UNUM Provident.

    Same for the Tories with more cuts.

    Yes UKIP the only one with something I could have voted for, but I’ve been on the left all my life.

    In fact I’ve voted labour since eighteen in 1968, but this is not labour in any way shape of form.

  8. Robert

    Vote for whom is the question we live in a Two party state, only now perhaps Scotland has broken that, well next time maybe.


    Robert you seem obsessed with benefits.

  10. Tommo

    A Stalinist solution. People should be free to vote or not vote as they choose.

  11. Tom Sheldon

    You can’t force people to engage. Compulsory voting will just mean a load of people who probably don’t know much about what the parties stand for turning up and voting because they feel they have to, and probably voting either randomly (which may give more votes the the candidate at the top of the page) or for the party they’ve seen most on posters or in some other trivial capacity.

    We need to encourage people to get engaged. An increased voter turnout should then result from that.

  12. Norfolk29

    Yes. Stalin used to get a 99 per cent approval rate.

  13. DRbilderburg

    No PR is the answer. Iv’e only for another party except labour once and that was in local elections, other than that iv’e voted Labour or spoilt my paper, and i am not young This year i won’t even bother spoiling my paper because by doing so i’d be giving credibility to our FPTP electoral system

    How can 2 parties, both of whom have multi millionaires as leaders, with no real life Job experiences represent 60 odd million people, it’s absurd. They don’t

  14. Norfolk29

    The issue is that by not voting they ignore your needs. You can protest all you like that they do not know you, but they do. They look after pensioners, like me, because we have the highest percentage turnout of all groups. Just think if that group were the under 25′ or the disabled, or those on benefits.

  15. Leon Wolfeson

    Compulsory voting is a terrible idea. It’s not democratic, and it’s a distraction from voting reform – if we had PR, many more people would vote.

    It would also need either i.e. registering to vote near your workplace (eliminating a large degree of anonymity), to change the entire voting system to allow far longer voting periods, for instance, or even access to postal balloting. Otherwise, contract workers would break the law if they needed to travel away that day for work.

  16. Leon Wolfeson

    Of course you think the poor love being poor…so typical.

  17. Leon Wolfeson

    I feel spoiling my ballot is how I best show my dislike for FPTP, myself.

  18. Leon Wolfeson

    Sure. And the way to get them engaged is to move parties far closer to their voters.
    That’s something PR brings.

    (Look at Scotland’s AMS!)

  19. Leon Wolfeson

    No, they’d still make convenient targets. The problem is FPTP.

  20. Norfolk29

    You are a true pessimist which politicians love. So long as they (the masses) believe they can have no power we will win. Why not reverse your opinions. Where you say all is lost, instead say “why not give it a try”. Ignore the Russell Brand negativism and adopt a positive approach. It works for me.

  21. Leon Wolfeson

    Rot. I’m out to change the voting system, to create true choice.

    Your view, that we should keep FPTP and only play within the options available is the negative one, the one of supremacy of the right.

    It might work for right wingers, as you are, but not me.

  22. Norfolk29

    Tell us your proposal to replace FPTP. The New Statesman published an analysis of the main alternatives last year and I found it a confusing choice.

  23. Leon Wolfeson

    MMP. Specifically, I’d copy Germany’s system.

  24. Norfolk29

    They live in a permanent coalition. Currently, despite Merkel having a clear mandate she has to share power with the Social Democrats. Why not a County/City based system where you vote for a Party, as in the EU election and then the respective party candidates are appointed according to the share of the vote obtained within the County/City. Norfolk has about 5 MPs and all of them are either Tory or LidDem. Labour with 20per cent of the vote gets none when they should get one (as they do in the EU elections). In Scotland the Tories get 36%of the vote and only win one seat. Cameron won the 2010 election on 36% of the vote.

  25. Leon Wolfeson

    Like most countries, you mean? Where the government commands more than under a third of voters, and more than a quarter of the population?

    You’re discussing mixing STV and a party list, rather than FPTP and a party list, as in AMS or MMP.

    Your system is completely unproven, and I can see numerous issues which would have to be worked out with it, versus taking a system where the advantages and disadvantages are known.

  26. Chris Phillips

    My answer is not in the list 🙁
    I would say YES to compulsory voting ONLY, ONLY, IF two options are included and it is PR
    1) None of the above
    2) Reopen the election
    IF more than 50% choose 2) then there has to be a re-election

  27. Rachel

    Yes, I would make voting compulsory, but not for the reason you might suppose.

    Voting is a secret ballot, politicians don’t know if you vote or spoil your paper. They do know however those who are and aren’t registered, and those who do and don’t cast their vote. From this, they can profile the groups who don’t vote based on age, gender, income, employment, home ownership. They can then decide which people they can screw with their policies and not lose votes. Look at the last five years of Tory policies if you don’t believe this to be true.

    Currently, your best defence against being targeted for tax increases or spending cuts would appear to be belonging to the groups that mostly vote. I would therefore have compulsory voting so non-voters (now paper spoilers) are hidden within the voting population. I think that would mean party policies might become fairer as everyones vote can be lost. And I think it is why it will never be implemented.

    Quite obviously I would also want PR rather than FPTP.

  28. Robert

    I live off them being severely disabled , would you not then be the same. But I’m more interest in truth labour Tories both the same when it comes to welfare

  29. Robert

    well I was in labour for a while 40 years , sadly labour died some time ago, would I vote UKIP a right wing party of hate, nope Tory well since they are so close to labour these days.

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