President Obama gave support to mandatory voting today at a town hall event in Cleveland. The President claims the drastic move would reduce the importance of money in elections and stop alleged voter suppression.
The Washington Times reports on the President's claim that mandatory voting would change everything:
“It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract [campaign] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”
The President, according to the Washington Post, raised nearly one billion dollars to fund his campaign. Yet the President now argues that forcing people to vote would reduce the influence of campaign donations.
This is a tenuous claim, because it is difficult to gauge the influence of advertising and culture on citizens who are otherwise unmotivated to vote without legal mandates.
The President brought up the subject himself, while arguing that his political opponents are advocates of voter suppression:
“The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups. And they’re the folks who are scratching and climbing to get into the middle class and they’re working hard. There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls. We should want to get them into the polls.”
Mr. Obama lamented the Democrats' poorer turnouts during midterm elections, which he claimed mandatory voting would go a long way to fix.
In other words, his reasons for supporting the measure might be political; it's difficult to imagine the Democrats supporting such a policy if it meant more losses at the ballot box.
As the Washington Times notes, five million more Republican voters cast ballots than Democrat voters in the 2014 midterm election, resulting in a thorough rout of Democrats. It's obvious that the Democrat Party isn't interesting in changing their policies, and that is why they are keen on changing the rules of the game.
According to the National Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 85% of nations in the world lack compulsory voting. The nations that do have compulsory voting are predominately South American nations, a few African nations, Mexico and Australia.
It should be noted that few of these countries are what one might call a well-functioning “democracy.”