Almost all the countries in the world have a laid down laws of coming up with their political leaders, either through election or succession. The rules that determine how an election is conducted is referred to as an electoral system. Electoral systems govern the voting process, who can take part in the election, how ballots are marked and counted, and the outcome of the election. In some countries, the electoral system requires that all the eligible citizens must register and vote in the national election failure for which there is a penalty. There are about 22 countries worldwide that have a compulsory voting but only 11 enforce it.
Countries With Compulsory Voting
Countries that Enforce Compulsory Voting
Although 22 countries have compulsory voting, only 11 enforce it. Argentina introduced the compulsory voting in 1912 for citizens aged 18 to 70 while it is non-mandatory for citizens who are over 70 years old and from 16 to 18 years. However, those below 70 years may choose not to vote in the primary election only if they formally inform the electoral authority before the election. In Belgium, citizens aged at least 18 must present themselves to the polling station on the voting day which is always on a Sunday. Those who fail to present themselves to the polling stations are subject to legal sanction. However, casting a legal vote is not mandatory. In Brazil, literate citizens aged 18 to 70 must vote while those between 16 and 17, and over 70 may take part if they so wish.
Ecuador introduced the mandatory voting in 1936 for citizens aged 18-65. However, voting is not compulsory for the illiterate citizens, those aged above 65 and between 16 and 18. In Luxembourg, it is only compulsory for citizens aged 18-75 and non-mandatory for citizens aged over 75 and foreigners who have enrolled on the electoral register. In North Korea, although only one candidate is included on the ballot, citizens aged over 17 years must vote by either approving or disapproving the candidate. Nauru, Peru, Singapore, and Uruguay also enforce compulsory voting. In Switzerland, mandatory voting was introduced in some cantons in the late 19th century but has been done away with in the country except in Schaffhausen.
Countries that have Not Enforced Mandatory Voting
Some countries have mandatory voting by law but are yet to enforce it. These countries include Bolivia, Bulgaria, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Egypt, Greece, Gabon, Guatemala, Libya, Honduras, and the Democratic Republic of Congo. In Lebanon, citizens age 21 and above have the right to vote for the candidate of their choice. According to the law, it is mandatory for all men who are at least 21 years to vote.
Why is Compulsory Voting Important?
Compulsory voting ensures that all citizens participate in democratic elections of their governing representatives. Proponents argue that voting is similar to other civil responsibilities such as taxation and compulsory education. Mandatory voting leads to a higher voter turnout which results in a higher degree of political legitimacy. Others have argued that compulsory voting improves the caliber of the person elected to the office since the election is not determined by voter turnout but by swing votes.