“The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding.” – Albert Camus
Ignorance cannot be willed out of someone. Society will always be populated with individuals whose minds are bereft of certain necessary knowledge. These individuals will move through life never truly understanding the lack of impact they’ve made on society. Those who say “I don’t get involved in politics,” or “It’s all the lesser of two evils anyway” are the people to whom I’m referring. This segment of the population will always exist. That’s simply a fact of life.
As it stands, those who are ignorant of politics aren’t forced to vote—and many do not. According to Pew Charitable Trusts:
“Preliminary data indicate that national turnout [for the 2014 mid-terms] was below 37 percent. That means nearly 2 in 3 eligible voters, or approximately 144 million American citizens—more than the population of Russia—chose to sit this election out.”
While mid-term elections are notorious for low turnout, not many more Americans voted in 2012. According to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, only 57.5% of eligible voters pulled the lever in the 2012 Presidential election.
While that number certainly seems depressing—42.5% of eligible voters sat out—many of those who didn’t vote likely didn’t know enough to make an informed decision. Either that, or they were disillusioned with voting entirely. Given that, should those ignorant people be forced to vote? I would argue absolutely not.
But our President has a different vision. During a Town Hall event in Cleveland, Ohio on Wednesday, President Obama said:
“Other countries have mandatory voting…It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything…The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups…There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”
One of the countries to which Obama is referring is Australia, which imposes mandatory voting on its citizens. Let’s flesh out what Obama said to bring more clarity to the concept.
Mandatory voting would force the 42.5% of Americans who didn’t vote in 2012, or the 37.7% who didn’t vote in 2008, or the 39.6% who didn’t vote in 2004 to cast a ballot, many of whom are wildly uninformed. What would that add to our democratic process?
To have millions of clueless Americans stepping into voting booths and essentially flipping a brain-coin to decide for whom they will cast their vote? At best, the result would be a roughly even number of uninformed votes cast for each side, which would add absolutely nothing to the democratic process. At worst, the media (which as we all know, is heavily biased toward the left) would subliminally lead people to vote for Democrats. Given that, Democrats would win in perpetuity.
President Obama said,
“The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups…There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”
Excuse me if I’m incorrect, but isn’t it those same people (young, low-income, minority, immigrant) whom the Democrats believe are incapable of obtaining photo ID? One of the main arguments Democrats make against mandatory photo identification during elections is that it’s tantamount to a poll tax.
Well, I would ask Obama: How would one enforce mandatory voting? In Australia, if one does not vote, and does not provide a legitimate reason for refusing to participate, they are fined between $20 and $170, according to the Australian Electorate Commission. Would Obama levy a fine against those who don’t vote, as he has done against those who refuse to buy health insurance? If so, wouldn’t the fine amount to the same amount of money one would need to spend to obtain a government issued photo ID? Seems a bit hypocritical.
Actually, an ID is cheaper than the Australian fine. According to New York’s nyc.gov:
“The non-driver State ID costs $9 to $10 for a 4 to 5 year ID and $13 to $14 for an 8 to 9 year ID.”
Would President Obama be in favor of a fine against those who refuse to vote—which is essentially the only means by which one could enforce mandatory voting? If so, isn’t that putting an undue burden on the young, low-income, minority, immigrant Americans who tend to vote less often? Isn’t that equally, if not more financially burdensome than obtaining a photo ID?
Oh wait: the Democrats would be getting millions of idiot-votes, so money is no object in that case, right?
And the fine would probably be subsidized, so low-income folks, minorities, and immigrants wouldn’t have to pay a dime. In essence, our Republic would no longer be a Republic, but a socialized utopia in which one class of Americans is forced to consume the financial burden for another. Oh wait, we’re already there with ObamaCare and wildly disproportionate tax brackets.
One needs only to watch one of the many “man-on-the-street” videos on YouTube in which average Americans are asked political questions to know that mandatory voting is a dangerous idea.
As Obama said, it would indeed be transformative if everybody voted—just not in a good way.