According to a 2015 report by Pew, the United States had one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the developed world OECD, with only 53.6 percent of voting-age people taking part in national elections in 2012. Only Japan, Chile, and Switzerland ranked lower.
Three of the countries with the highest voter turnout — Belgium (No. 1), Turkey (No. 2) and Australia (No. 5) make voting mandatory, as do mid-ranking nations like Greece (No. 12), Mexico (No. 18), Luxembourg (No. 26), and France (for Senate elections only; No. 13).
If you are wondering why countries with compulsory voting nonetheless have a gap between voting turnout and voting registration, there are various explanations, such as the law not being enforced (as in Greece) or absent voters being allowed to offer a justifiable excuse and/or pay a fine (Australia).
As for why the U.S. fares so poorly despite being one of the world’s foremost republics, there is no shortage of explanations. Many allege that it comes down to how difficult it is to actually vote — the registration process is relatively more complex than in other democracies, and national votes take place on a single non-holiday weekday. Others say it has to do with growing disaffection with, and subsequent apathy towards, politics. Still others assert that voter turnout is not really all that low to begin with.
All that said, do you think voting should be mandatory? Is it a civic obligation like jury duty and taxes, or is it best left to individual to decide, even if it means less civic engagement in the aggregate. What are your thoughts?
Source: The Washington Post