Mandatory Voting? How About ‘None of the Above?’
Article from For Liberty by Norm Leahy.
State and local governments are continually tweaking their election laws in order, we are told, to make it easier and more meaningful for people to vote.
In some places, you can cast your ballots by mail. Elsewhere, you can use so-called “ranked-choice voting” which is supposed to encourage more choices of candidates.
Or you can live in a place like California, which has “jungle primaries” in which all candidates from all parties run on the same ballot. The top two vote-getters move on to the general election. This is supposed to make voting and elections easier. But it sometimes results in two general election candidates from the same party. That’s not much of a choice at all. What do voters do in such circumstances? They tend not to vote at all.
One California legislator, Assemblyman Marc Levine, believes he’s got a solution: make voting mandatory. Here’s the press release on that idea:
Beginning in 2022, AB 2070 would require that every registered voter in the state cast their ballot, either by mail or at a vote center. The California Secretary of State who oversees elections, would be authorized to enforce civil remedies, developed by their office, to ensure maximum voter turnout.
Across the globe, 30 nations currently require mandatory ballot casting – the oldest, Belgium, began compulsory ballot casting in 1893. In the past decade, California has taken dramatic steps to lower barriers to voting and increase voter participation including the passage of the Voter’s Choice Act, expanding early voting opportunities and making all vote by mail ballot envelopes postage paid. AB 2070 builds upon these efforts to increase voter participation by making voting compulsory.
This is one of the few times Belgium has ever been held up as a model Western Democracy. But let’s give Mr. Levine the benefit of the doubt. Would mandatory voting actually make elections better?
Sure…if one of the options, on every ballot, is a pre-printed “none of the above” box voters could check. And if “none of the above’ wins? Then there must be a new election –with new candidates.
Image Credit: By Henri Sivonen from Helsinki, Finland (flickr: California State Capitol) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons