Compulsory Voting: Would it reduce political polarization?

This entry is part 4 of 5 in the series Compulsory Voting
Cover of It's Even Worse Than It Looks by Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein

CLICK THE COVER to learn more about Mann’s and Ornstein’s book.

Mandatory voting would increase turnout, but could it also decrease political polarization? It could, says Thomas Mann of the Brookings Institution. Do you agree or disagree?

With compulsory voting, Mann says in a blog post, “political parties and candidates have no incentive to spend huge amounts of money trying to turn out their voters and to demobilize the opposition’s voters.” Rather, they would focus on appealing to a wide range of voters, which could bring their positions closer together.

Most Americans oppose compulsory voting, according to various polls. But “Americans don’t like compulsory anything; they value the freedom to not vote” write Mann and co-author Norman J. Ornstein in a recent book. “But they may change their opinions after another lengthy period of dominance by political extremes and the divisive discourse, agenda, and outcomes that follow.”

Granted, compulsory voting is a loss of some measure of freedom. But, Mann and Ornstein argue this is a relatively small loss of freedom compared with the greater good of ending today’s toxic political climate.

Do you agree that compulsory voting would reduce political polarization?
Is a big reduction in polarization worth the small price of the loss of the freedom to note vote?

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Series Navigation<< Compulsory Voting: Is it a violation of freedom of speech?Compulsory Voting: Is “Democracy Day” a better idea? >>


  1. Debra Darvick says

    I think this is a terrible, horrible no good idea. More do-gooders trying to undermine the entire fabric of our nation.
    No, it’s not worth the loss of another freedom. I may move to Australia. (Violets fans will understand.)