There was a bit of discussion in a post on Monday about the merits of compulsory voting. Those who are interested in the topic shouldn’t miss Peter Brent’s post from yesterday at Mumble. As you’d expect from Brent, it’s very thorough and very thoughtful.
It’s one of those debates that a lot of people form strong views about before they’ve informed themselves of the relevant facts. Brent points out the foolishness of limiting our comparisons to the United States, “as if that’s the only other country in the world.” Instead he looks at New Zealand, which makes for a very interesting study. Take particular note of his two graphs, one showing “official” turnout and one showing “real” turnout. (Hint: Australia doesn’t look as good on the second.)
Like me, Brent supports voluntary voting because, as he puts it, “compulsion papers over our democracy deficit.” But he concludes – rightly, I imagine – that it’s unlikely to be introduced in Australia for a long time.