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One of the major problems we face in our democracy is that so many of "we the people" don't vote. Though the percentages differ in the years of national elections, and mid-terms, suffice it to say that half of the American populace of voting age doesn't vote and among that group are those who wish to vote and can't.

This is a complex issue, and there are many variables that cause the problem, including lack of voter and civics education, voter apathy and disillusionment, economic stress, racism and disenfranchisement.  

Laws are being passed to limit citizen access to registration, to expunge people from the voting roles, to repress groups that have registered low income voters.

As a possible solution to this, I have often considered the question of whether or not we should make voting compulsory. I've read arguments, pro and con, about compulsory voting, and at this stage of my life, I am leaning toward the pro side.

Brookings Institution political theorist and former adviser to Bill Clinton, Al Gore and Walter Mondale, William A. Galston, wrote this recent opinion piece in the New York Times supporting the idea:

Telling Americans to Vote, or Else

JURY duty is mandatory; why not voting? The idea seems vaguely un-American. Maybe so, but it’s neither unusual nor undemocratic. And it would ease the intense partisan polarization that weakens our capacity for self-government and public trust in our governing institutions.

Thirty-one countries have some form of mandatory voting, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. The list includes nine members of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development and two-thirds of the Latin American nations. More than half back up the legal requirement with an enforcement mechanism, while the rest are content to rely on the moral force of the law.

Our southern neighbors in Brazil require and enforce voting, and have managed in recent years to have Workers' Party presidents, and their first woman elected to the presidency.

Curtis Gans, co-founder and director of the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, gave this testimony before the Senate Rules Committee in 2009:

Voter Registration: Assessing Current Problems

There is a better way which is currently in practice within our neighbor to the south which has transformed what had been one of the most corrupt electoral systems anywhere into one that is respected and trusted by its citizenry.

If we, like they, had a government-provided (and paid for, including outreach and
documentation) mandatory biometric identification card and system, every citizen aged 18 and over would be enfranchised and none of the putative fraud (and intimidation and suppression) associated with the current registration system could occur. Voting would be, in this nation as in most other nations, a one-step act. Citizens would no longer need to qualify themselves through registration. All they need do is vote with confidence that their vote will be counted accurately.

Universal registration is an idea which must be examined, and along with that we must enfranchise those who have been disenfranchised due to convictions.

Study: Non-Voting Felons Increasing

On Election Day, nearly 1.4 million voting-age black men — more than one in eight — will be ineligible to cast ballots because of state laws that strip felons of the right to vote.

“Here we are, 50 years after the beginning of the civil rights movement, and we actually have an increasing number of African-Americans who are disenfranchised each year,” said Marc Mauer of The Sentencing Project, which analyzed 1996 Justice Department statistics along with Human Rights Watch.

Disenfranchised black males account for 35 percent of all Americans now barred from voting because of felony convictions. Two percent of all Americans, or 3.9 million, have lost the right to vote, compared with 13 percent of adult black men.

The Sentencing Project reports, in New Report Details Voting Law Restrictions:

The Brennan Center for Justice has published a new report on state legislative changes made to voting laws in anticipation of the 2012 elections. The report finds that many state governments have gone to great lengths to make it harder to register to vote, or to restore the right to vote. According to the report, “Disenfranchisement after criminal conviction remains the single most significant barrier to voting rights in the United States.”

The report singles out Iowa and Florida as having enacted particularly draconian voting rights policies. While both states had eased their rights restoration policies in recent
years, new Republican governors Terry Branstad of Iowa and Rick Scott of Florida used executive actions to de facto permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions. In Florida, as many as a million people could be disenfranchised as a result of the new rules; Iowa previously had the highest rate of disenfranchisement of African Americans in the country before the restoration process had been eased in 2005.

The report singles out Iowa and Florida as having enacted particularly draconian voting rights policies. While both states had eased their rights restoration policies in recent years, new Republican governors Terry Branstad of Iowa and Rick Scott of Florida used executive actions to de facto permanently disenfranchise all people with felony convictions. In Florida, as many as a million people could be disenfranchised as a result of the new rules; Iowa previously had the highest rate of disenfranchisement of African Americans in the country before the restoration process had been eased in 2005.

Political scientists, sociologists and demographers have spent a lot of research time looking at the people whom PEW has recently dubbed "The Party of Nonvoters." They took a look at these non-voters in 2010:

Turnout in midterm elections typically is less than 40% of the voting age population (in 2006 it was 37%), and there is no reason to expect that it will be dramatically higher in 2010. Who are these likely nonvoters who constitute a majority of the American public this year?

Based on an analysis of a September national survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press, nonvoters are younger, less educated and more financially stressed than likely voters. Nonvoters are significantly less Republican in their party affiliation than are likely voters, and more supportive of an activist federal government. Despite their more difficult economic circumstances, nonvoters express greater satisfaction with national conditions than do likely voters, and are more likely to approve of Barack Obama's job performance.

The results of their study mirrored data from a report by The California Voter Foundation (CVF), Why Don't More Americans Vote?

Who are the non-voters?

The survey found that nonvoters are disproportionately young, single, less educated and more likely to be of an ethnic minority than infrequent and frequent voters. 40 percent of nonvoters are under 30 years old, compared to 29 percent of infrequent voters and 14 percent of frequent voters. Infrequent voters are much more likely to be married than nonvoters, with 50 percent of infrequent voters married compared to only 34 percent of nonvoters. 76% of nonvoters have less than a college degree, compared to 61 percent of infrequent voters and 50 percent of frequent voters. Among nonvoters, 54 percent are white or Caucasian compared to 60 percent of infrequent voters and 70 percent of frequent voters.

PEW has also done targeted research on the growing Latino electorate:

The Latino Electorate in 2010: More Voters, More Non-Voters

More than 6.6 million Latinos voted in last year's election—a record for a midterm—according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Pew Hispanic Center, a project of the Pew Research Center. Latinos also were a larger share of the electorate in 2010 than in any previous midterm election, representing 6.9% of all voters, up from 5.8% in 2006. Rapid population growth has helped fuel Latinos' increasing electoral participation. According to the Census Bureau, 50.5 million Hispanics were counted by the 2010 Census, up from 35.3 million in 2000. Over the same decade, the number of Latino eligible voters—adults who are U.S. citizens—also increased, from 13.2 million in 2000 to 21.3 million in 2010.

However, even though more Latinos than ever are participating in the nation's elections, their representation among the electorate remains below their representation in the general population. In 2010, 16.3% of the nation's population was Latino, but only 10.1% of eligible voters and fewer than 7% of voters were Latino. This gap is driven by two demographic factors—youth and non-citizenship. More than one third of Latinos (34.9%) are younger than the voting age of 18. And an additional 22.4% are of voting age, but are not U.S. citizens. As a result, the share of the Latino population eligible to vote is smaller than it is among any other group. Just 42.7% of the nation's Latino population is eligible to vote, while more than three-in-four (77.7%) of whites, two-thirds of blacks (67.2%) and more than half of Asians (52.8%) are eligible to vote. Yet, even among eligible voters, Latino participation rates lag those of other groups. In 2010, 31.2% of Latino eligible voters say they voted, while nearly half (48.6%) of white eligible voters and 44.0% of black eligible voters said the same.

This gap in voter participation between Latinos and other groups is partly due to the large share of Latino eligible voters that are under 30. In 2010, 31.3% of Latino eligible voters were ages 18 to 29, while 19.2% of white, 25.6% of black and 20.7% of Asian eligible voters were under 30. Among young Latino eligible voters, just 17.6% voted. In contrast, among Latino eligible voters ages 30 and older, the voter turnout rate was higher—37.4%.

As we move toward the 2012 elections and beyond, we need to identify better methods to engage first time voters, enhance registration, enact legislation that provides access to all and not the few, and support efforts to push-back against restrictions.

Back in August, Rolling Stone published this article by Ari Berman, in The GOP War on Voting:

In a campaign supported by the Koch brothers, Republicans are working to prevent millions of Democrats from voting next year

As the nation gears up for the 2012 presidential election, Republican officials have launched an unprecedented, centrally coordinated campaign to suppress the elements of the Democratic vote that elected Barack Obama in 2008. Just as Dixiecrats once used poll taxes and literacy tests to bar black Southerners from voting, a new crop of GOP governors and state legislators has passed a series of seemingly disconnected measures that could prevent millions of students, minorities, immigrants, ex-convicts and the elderly from casting ballots. "What has happened this year is the most significant setback to voting rights in this country in a century," says Judith Browne-Dianis, who monitors barriers to voting as co-director of the Advancement Project, a civil rights organization based in Washington, D.C.

Republicans have long tried to drive Democratic voters away from the polls. "I don't want everybody to vote," the influential conservative activist Paul Weyrich told a gathering of evangelical leaders in 1980. "As a matter of fact, our leverage in the elections quite candidly goes up as the voting populace goes down." But since the 2010 election, thanks to a conservative advocacy group founded by Weyrich, the GOP's effort to disrupt voting rights has been more widespread and effective than ever. In a systematic campaign orchestrated by the American Legislative Exchange Council – and funded in part by David and Charles Koch, the billionaire brothers who bankrolled the Tea Party – 38 states introduced legislation this year designed to impede voters at every step of the electoral process.

I've talked here in the past about the fact that many of my students are just registering to vote for the first time-and were confused about where to go to find information about candidates, or even who is running in their districts. I've pointed them to websites like Project Vote Smart and the efforts of groups like The Advancement Project, and The Sentencing Project.

We can turn non-voters into informed voters. Let's do it!

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tips for getting non-voters to the polls (111+ / 0-)

    "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

    by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 04:27:40 PM PST

  •  But...but...but (12+ / 0-)

    What would the Republican Party do between elections if they cannot suppress the vote?  Actuslly think about policy?  Never happen.

    “The greatest tragedy in mankind's entire history may be the hijacking of morality by religion.” Arthur C. Clarke

    by spritegeezer on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:06:08 PM PST

  •  My parents were immigrants. My mother thought... (12+ / 0-)

    ...that anyone who did not vote was an idiot, or worse. If we can mandate less idiocy, maybe we should think about it....

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:06:27 PM PST

  •  I say no to compulsory voting. (6+ / 0-)

    The reason is that the US has too many armed citizens.

    After a few mandatory elections where everybody votes and things still don't work, people may (not unreasonably) conclude that peaceful change doesn't f'n work.

    Then we have a problem.

    The way it is now, the fact that only half the people vote gives our system a fig leaf behind which to hid the fact that Democracy is never going to make everybody happy.

    In fact Democracy is designed to make exactly 49.99% of the people Mad As Hell.

    And before you ask, no, I don't have a better idea.

    •  disagree - but tipping you for commenting. n/t (9+ / 0-)

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:08:48 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Our democracy does not work because (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ManhattanMan, Bailey2001, SoCalSal

      people don't vote or are entirely uneducated as to the issues. This is the first reference that "democracy was designed to make people mad as hell" I have ever seen.
      Democracy is certainly not a perfect system, there is none, but change will definitely come with a more educated and involved public. We certainly wouldn't see the extent of the bastardization of government by money that we see in America.

      "You can die for Freedom, you just can't exercise it"

      by shmuelman on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:42:44 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right... (0+ / 0-)

        ...but you are confusing the issue.

        "...change will definitely come with a more educated and involved public."

        I agree, but I can't see how compulsory voting makes people more educated or involved. Especially educated (I mean educated about issues, not just having degrees).

    •  Let's enact compulsory love. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      oldhippie, khereva

      People don't vote because they recognize that voting has little effect upon their lives.  Emma Goldman stated it quite succinctly:

      If voting changed anything, they'd make it illegal.

      Voting does change things for the insiders of political parties.  Government at the federal, state and local levels passes out a lot of money to their friends.

      But for most of us with no inside connections, it's Tweedledum and Tweedledee.  Endless wars.  Give-aways to the connected corporations.  Fuck yous to the rest of us.

      Making voting compulsory is bullshit.  One way you can protest this whole corrupt system is by staying home on election day.

      •  That will teach'em! Just cop out. (3+ / 0-)

        Don't do anything.  Relieve yourself from having to make any decisions.  BUT.  Don't come complaining when the government that you didn't vote for takes away everything you expected them to hand you on a platter.

        Disgusting actually.  

        •  Did I say don't do anything? (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          khereva

          Direct action gets satisfaction.  Bring that government down.  And all the other powers that oppress us.  Occupy.  Overwhelm.  Remove.

          I've made my decision.  And it means having nothing to do with bought-off politicians.

          BTW.  I find those who condemn those with enough sense to opt-out of this sham electoral system to be disgusting.

          •  Daily Kos (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            ajwagner, MichaelNY

            Markos founded the site and the ongoing purpose of the site is to elect Democrats, more and better. If you think voting is BS then this isn't the place for you.

            I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

            by Grassroots Mom on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 04:43:13 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

          •  I would actually... (0+ / 0-)

            work it from both angles.  Elect the politicians you can stomach while working to remove the canker that is the modern political system.  Having a say is better than being silent, in my book.  Often, if you're silent on elections, you're deciding not just to put quiet in macro, but micro politics.  I selected a lot of my local candidate positions, from who is on my local school boards, to magistrates and judges.  There's a lot of depth to be found here that we can tap into, even as we bring the system to its knees.  Diamonds in the rough, so to speak.

            "You have to let it all go, Neo. Fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind." -Morpheus, The Matrix

            by Sarenth on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:43:51 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

      •  Politicians work for voters not citizens (4+ / 0-)

        it's one of the 1st rules my dad taught me. One of the best predictors of a state being liberal or conservatives is the voting rate of it citizens. The lower the rate generally the more conservative the state. Conservatives have a reason that they usually push ballot initiatives in off year elections when voting rates are lower.

        The reason why pols ignore the poor, is that the poor vote at a lower rate. If you were running for congress and you knew that 95% of poor people instead of 39% were going to vote it would change the issues you focussed on or you would lose. It's simply a matter of math.

        -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

        by dopper0189 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:37:46 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's math, alright. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          khereva

          But not the math of voter participation rates.

          It's who gives how much money.

          And the poor will never compete on that level.

          Nor will any of the rest of us in the 99%.

          •  Funny, really (3+ / 0-)

            how you say that... when this year, the GOP gained control of everything for the first time in 40 years in Maine. They have stripped down environmental regulations and given us a healthcare system that is already jacking prices up 30-40%, with that expected to go up fivefold over five years. Repeal attempts of same-day registration, attacks on unions, and probably a voter ID bill in the next session.

            No, there really is no difference between who gets elected in this system at all.

    •  I agree with you, NO to compulsory voting (4+ / 0-)

      Really? You'd (not you, Manhattan) fine or imprison people for exercising their freedom to vote? And it's not about armed citizens.

      C'mon people! This is America, Free Speech and all that. Freedom to vote is the freedom to not vote, for whatever reason. That's why it's up to the candidates and parties to educate and motivate, and yes, allow people to vote. Can't you hear the irony in "Compulsory Voting"?

      The 'better idea' is GOTV, go knock on some doors, make some phone calls. Who said Democracy can be earned from a computer keyboard? or forced behind a badge and a gun?

      picking off right-wingnuts at the ballot box, one vote at a time

      by JohnMac on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:56:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think that there... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        JohnMac, khereva, sombra

        ...are many Liberals who think that compulsory voting will somehow help us win.

        I really don't think so. All it will do is add to the electorate a bunch of people who are angry and bitter because The Government just forced then to vote.

        Don't we have enough angry, bitter people who hate Government voting?

  •  Mandatory voting? (11+ / 0-)

    I don't like that under the present electoral system/ballot.

    Under a mandatory voting system, I want to be able to express my displeasure at the dearth of choices at the polls.

    Doesn't New York have that system where I can take, say, a Working Families ballot and then vote for the Democratic candidate on that ballot...now I would do that. But we don't have that system in Cook County, Illinois.

  •  excellent issue for discussion (10+ / 0-)

    it would not be easy to obtain compulsory voting because the GOP's multi-faceted approach to stop people from voting would be nixed in one swoop? the false claims of fraud, new poll taxes, obstacles to registration, disenfranchisement etc. all wiped out? But if it would eliminate all these evils, then i imagine we could assemble quite a coalition to pressure passing it.

    Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Mohandas K. Gandhi

    by Patriot Daily News Clearinghouse on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:10:13 PM PST

  •  I would lean towards the pro side as well... (12+ / 0-)

    because there is so much voter supression giving the GOP an advantage they wouldn't otherwise have...

    At this point, far more people have now been arrested for protesting Wall Street's mortgage fraud crimes than have been for committing and presiding over them.

    by joedemocrat on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:10:23 PM PST

    •  Agree - and the suppression is getting worse. (4+ / 0-)

      We need to re-examine the electoral college as well.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:18:08 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  I would fully support (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

        eliminating the electoral vote and going by a popular vote..

        I would support doing something about gerrymandering and getting people into "safe" districts - the effect is to reduce turnout..

        A final and very vital reform is to eliminate the influence of big money. Possibly go to publicly financed elections where each side gets $X...

        At this point, far more people have now been arrested for protesting Wall Street's mortgage fraud crimes than have been for committing and presiding over them.

        by joedemocrat on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:22:58 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Get rid of the Diebold machines -create US jobs ! (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    justiceputnam, TofG
  •  It is compulsory in Australia (5+ / 0-)

    so a good place to investigate for outcomes.

    No nation can be great if it allows its elites to loot with impunity and prosecutes its whistleblowers. Geithner is destroying the things that made America great. -- Bill Black, white-collar criminologist & a former senior financial regulator

    by jboxman on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:11:01 PM PST

  •  If I have a right to choose abortion (5+ / 0-)

    surely I should have the right to choose to vote.

    Compulsory votes can be every bit as mindless or outright bought as voluntary votes.

    Oregon's vote-by-mail has been a smashing success, and should be extended to the other 49.

  •  if there's a "none of the above" option (6+ / 0-)

    I have a problem with being told I have to vote for one of two bad candidates. Perhaps turning in an empty ballot would be an acceptable alternative.

    "Things are never so bad they can't get worse" - Dallasdoc

    by Shahryar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:15:05 PM PST

    •  I'm sure turning in an empty ballot (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY

      is perfectly acceptable in countries with compulsory voting. All that is required is to show up...voting a blank ballot makes a far more impressive statement than just not showing up, which can be (and generally is) interpreted as apathy rather than anger.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 04:59:16 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm against compulsory voting... (11+ / 0-)

    ...but how about automatic (or even compulsory) registration?

    That would be a good counter to the vote-suppression efforts. We are gonna make those deadbeat poor unemployed people register or else they lose their benefits.

    Faced with the chance to be mean to poor people (and maybe even denying some their benefits!), many rightwingers may overlook the fact that some may get to vote.

    •  Now that's what I like (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

      diabolical plotting always warms my heart.

      If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X

      by ActivistGuy on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:07:21 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  No way (0+ / 0-)

      Their whole strategy is based on making it difficult for the poor to vote. The rightwing constitutes approximately 30% of the population, which is majority only if  less than 60% of the population votes. The less other people vote, the greater their power. No way could you get them to get behind compulsory registration....especially if it doesn't cost anything (they wanted to make AFDC applicants in Florida pay for their own drug tests...)

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 05:02:30 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Voting has a moral, Karmic component - you can't (4+ / 0-)

    compel me to vote for choices that truly go against my conscience.  But if there were a choice in all elections that read ' FAIL : Start over" than, maybe...

  •  Tipped reced and saved to read for later, D (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:18:29 PM PST

  •  Electoral College (4+ / 0-)

    I wonder how many people don't bother to vote because they increasingly live in a state where it hardly matters to vote if you're not voting for the "red" or "blue" candidate that your state broadly represents.  

    •  That just has to do with Presidential elections nt (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, scott5js

      "So, am I right or what?"

      by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:21:12 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Oh no it doesn't! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        It applies at every level across the board, and all the way down to very local elections. Just look at the "official candidates" from the latest off-year election in Virginia and notice how many of them were Republicans running unopposed (there were a few Democrats too, but WAY more Repukes).

        If it's
        Not your body
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        AND it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:59:59 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  2 different things (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          The Electoral  College system has nothing to do with a local election where there's no opposition.

          "So, am I right or what?"

          by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:24:59 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  You've got it backwards (0+ / 0-)

          it isn't the electoral college that causes one-party domination, it's one-party domination that skews the electoral college. But the local level is where it's easiest for someone to file as a candidate...if people are really unhappy with the lack of choices on the ballot, that's the solution--get somebody else to run. If enough people are sick of the big money running things, they can propel an upstart to victory.

          "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

          by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 05:06:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  Now see, one reason I love Illinois (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      at least for now is that if I didn't want to vote to reelect PBO and I wanted to vote for the Green Party candidate (as I did in 2000) then I will probably have the privilege to do that as a measure of discontent.

    •  The Electoral College (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      a2nite

      Is a terrible, non-democratic idea that many of our founding fathers put forward as one of the several non-democratic principals of our so-called democracy. The non-representative senate is another. The 2/3rds majorities required are yet a third.

      This country needs an overhaul.

      "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

      by TerryDarc on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:09:41 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm sure the GOP would insist that such a law be (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shahryar, ohmproject, CaliSista

    confined to people who can show pure citizenship on both sides of their parents. It would mean immigrants could reside in the U.S. but not vote. Only beginning with "native" citizenship (that is, 2nd generation) could you vote. A 1/2 pure citizen (one parent an immigrant would have his/her case judged individually by the Fuhrer, I mean President.

  •  I think there might be a huge outcry from (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    localities - remember the incompetant clerk from Waukesha, WI who 'found' 15,000 votes but overall it would be very good to have standardized voting made compulsory.

  •  I'm all for it, (2+ / 0-)

    but at the very least, and hopefully as a step toward it, make election day a mandatory day off from work for those who still have jobs.  That alone would make it much easier for those who want to vote to do so and would bring financial resources behind the importance of it.

  •  I missing something (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    dinazina, khereva, CaliSista

    Where in this diary is the actual argument for mandatory voting?  

    Also, I did see the mention of a nationwide biometric ID card as part of this- don't think that's going to fly at all.  And, it would almost certainly end up making voting less than universal.

    Finally, are you calling for "mandatory" with actual punishment for those who fail to vote?  Because, you understand the people who will fail to vote and end up prosecuted are the exact same people that are currently not voting- the poor, those with language barriers, and (disproportionately) minorities.  And, if there is no punishment, in what way is it really mandatory.

    The best pizza comes from New York.

    by JakeC on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:28:25 PM PST

  •  Being registered to vote to graduate from HS (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    ...seems to be a pretty easy, important, and minimal civics requirement.  

     

    Eliminate the Bush tax cuts Eliminate Afghan and Iraq wars Do these things first before considering any cuts

    by kck on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:28:40 PM PST

  •  Sounds like an interesting idea (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    Although, you'd definitely have to get rid of the ID laws, or help people get ID's.  Because otherwise you could have this scenario:

    1.  Voter shows up, intending to vote, but does not have ID.

    2.  Voter is turned away from the polls for not having ID.

    3.  Voter is then fined for not voting, adding insult to injury.  

    I can see many state Republican parties being just mean-spirited enough to try this.  

    •  it goes hand in hand with ensuring that (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma

      everyone is registered - in a national system.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:34:27 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Everyone registered (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        and with access to the polls or easy access to an absentee ballot.

      •  I lived in New Zealand a long time. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        There, they had absolutely no clue about how or why we had folks from political parties registering people to vote. There, the GOVERNMENT takes that responsibility, and has voting on Saturdays or other days people can get off (!), and encourages a 90+% voter turnout. I don't believe it's compulsory, per se, but it sure is frowned upon to NOT vote.

        Interestingly, even guest workers in the country are encouraged to vote and give their opinion on future plans....

      •  Surely if citizens can be identified with social (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        security numbers, tracked by the IRS to make sure we pay our taxes, and counted in a census, we can develop a voting system that requires all citizens to vote to  register their choice or non-choice of candidates for office.

        Anyone expecting benefits from government should be required to participate.  

        I might add that I have long advocated for allowing felons to vote.  What better way to teach those in prison to take responsibility for their actions so they might again become producive members of society.  

        That said, I don't think it will happen any time soon.

         

      •  I Would Prefer To See (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Denise Oliver Velez

        A carrot instead of a stick. Reward people with, I dunno, a 1 year national park pass if they vote. Or something that is within the power of the governmental body to grant.

        "Always remember this: They fight with money and we resist with time, and they’re going to run out of money before we run out of time." -Utah Philips

        by TerryDarc on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:15:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Thats only one step away from being told (5+ / 0-)

    who to vote for. Our justice system is barely functioning now and you would want them to enforce something like this?

  •  Teens ARE Trying to win the right to vote! (4+ / 0-)

    While the GOP tries to disenfranchise as many people as possible OVER age 18, teens under 18 are trying to win the right to vote.

    Many teens work and pay taxes (or would work if they could find jobs!) but have no say in the leaders whose decisions can affect them the rest of their lives.

    For great videos about youth groups working on the voting age, check out these YouTube videos!

    ((youtube 7GsJHz1whoA))  An ad produced by 16 year olds for a lower voting age!

    ((youtube jmqTnDsaUcM))  A news story about a high school student trying to lower the voting age to 15!

    TO learn more on efforts to lower the voting age, got to http://youthrights.org/...

    Join National Youth Rights Assocation, http://www.youthrights.org and join the youth rights revolution

    by teenvote on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:30:27 PM PST

  •  I'm for compulsory voting as long as there is the (3+ / 0-)

    "none of the above option" that only (?) Nevada has.

  •  Thorny question. (2+ / 0-)

    In the past I gave more credence to the idea that part of the  politician's job was to try to persuade voters to actually turn out and vote. (Or for proponents or antagonists of a specific measure to make their case compelling enough) Additionally,I felt that the right to not participate was sacrosanct. Still do actually. That's why I think we must allow options to vote for none or write-in whatever. Compulsory turnout.
    These days though,I think a compulsory system may be a way to level the playing field between big $$$ interests and the general populace a bit. A life raft for democracy.

    "George RR Martin is not your bitch" ~~ Neil Gaiman

    by tardis10 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:36:37 PM PST

  •  Backlash from mandatory voting... (0+ / 0-)

    ...would likely be a disaster for the party that enacted/promoted it.  People that don't want to bother with voting would be likely to vent on that party, and the opposition would reap the benefits.  

    The campaign ads skewering those who promoted it wouldn't be hard to write.  Mandatory voting has an authoritarian sound to it.  It wouldn't be too hard to characterize it like votes in authoritarian countries where there is only one party.   This is not political imagery we want.

    Automatic registration IS a good idea however.

    Disenfranchisement of felons is something I still favor.  I do not want them voting, period.    

    "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

    by Celtic Pugilist on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:39:18 PM PST

    •  The question you would ban someone (6+ / 0-)

      from voting who is 81 for a mistake they made at 18 even if they never again commited another crime?

      -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

      by dopper0189 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:45:51 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yep, not worried about the rare extreme (0+ / 0-)

        Nice attempt at spinning it, but felons shouldn't be voting.  The recidivism rate is well north of 50% (even in the short term.)  The majority are career criminals.

        "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

        by Celtic Pugilist on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:41:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Not "spin" it's a legit question. (6+ / 0-)

          A good portion of the recidivism rate has to do with how hard it is to find work with a felony conviction on your record. Folks who find work post conviction have a much lower rate. The question becomes do we want to rehabilitate people or give them a scarlet letter for life?

          I think that they should be treated like a bankruptsy in that after a set amount of time, if they work pay taxes and stay out of trouble their rights are returned. What benefit is it to society to keep a person from voting who goes on to become a productive member of society if they did something wrong 20,30,40 years in the past? That is what I don't understand about your argument.

          -1.63/ -1.49 "Speaking truth to power" (with snark of course)!

          by dopper0189 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 09:41:36 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not my argument, your strawman (0+ / 0-)

            It's not a legit question, it's a strawman.  You are trying to make a case from a small subset when the vast majority should not be voting.  I'm opposed to granting the vote to those who have demonstrated they can't obey the basic laws (felons.)  These are not persons who should be entrusted with making decisions for society.  It wasn't my choice(s) that put them in this position, it was theirs.  I have to live with the consequences of my choices, they'll have to live with theirs.

            How many felonies does the average offender commit and for how long before they are actually caught, convicted, and punished?  With as high as the recidivism rate is one must remember that it only includes those who get caught a second time.  From what I've seen in life, those that go down this path don't do so from a single mistake, but from a general lifestyle; and they receive plenty of opportunities and warnings  to avoid it.

            Some do change, I've known several who straightened out.  But that doesn't mean that I will ignore what they have done when the context warrants it--and voting requires basic judgement.  Afterall, voting is about electing folks to create and uphold the laws of the land.  Who is less qualified to do that than a convicted felon?

            As for what states want to allow in the long term, I have some flexibility, but the burden of proof that a felon should have voting rights restored is on the felon.

            "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

            by Celtic Pugilist on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:17:41 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  And? (4+ / 0-)

          Voting should be like breathing. I'll go one step further and say that not only should felons be voting, there should be a voting booth in every jail, like there is in Maine.

          I don't give a shit what you did to get tossed in jail, every single American citizen should have the right to access the ballot box without restrictions upon that access. To say otherwise is a disturbing conservative viewpoint that has no place in liberal platforms. It sickens me every time I see a Democrat supported restricting the franchise.

          •  Conservative??? (0+ / 0-)

            You obviously haven't been paying attention if you think that being held accountable for one's actions is a "conservative viewpoint."  Conservatives never think they (or their voting bloc) should be held accountable for their actions.  This sort of shit stinks just as badly when it comes from the liberal side of the aisle as it does when it comes from conservatives.

            You know what is a conservative viewpoint:  "compelling" folks to vote.  Has an Orwellian sound about it.  

            So you want those who by and large have demonstrated they are predators on society to vote on what the rules should be and who should be creating/implementing them?  Oh, that's just brilliant...what could go wrong?  

            I would prefer that we decriminalize things that really shouldn't be criminal (see the war on drugs, sex) and that we strive for living wages.  Attack the problems at the root, not something far, far downstream (voting felons.)  That's how you go about progressively enfranchising voters and improving lives.

            "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

            by Celtic Pugilist on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:42:29 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

        •  OMG, you actually meant those OUT of jail? (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, doroma

          I thought your first comment was talking about people still in prison serving sentences.

          Even using your numbers, you're willing to deny ~40% of that population the right to vote after serving their sentence AND Parole AND Probation for the REST OF THEIR LIVES? Any felony? It must be nice to be so perfect that you can't envision someone making a mistake, taking their punishment and then living a productive life afterwards.

          With the way the criminal "justice" system is stacked against the already disenfranchised, who do you think this hardhearted policy will affect the most? The well-off who get their kids felonies knocked down to misdemeanors or expunged or racial minorities or the poor who are often overcharged to "encourage" pleas? I have to say, I find such intolerance in a Kossack to be extremely discouraging.

          "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

          by CaliSista on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:58:03 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You fell for the strawman. (0+ / 0-)

            Congratulations, you fell for dopper's strawman.   Have fun spinning a fantasy about what I think and how you perceive that fantasy charicature of yours to be intolerant.

            "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

            by Celtic Pugilist on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:48:58 AM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  I don't think you know the meaning of strawman. (0+ / 0-)

              Let me help you out:
              A straw man is a component of an argument and is an informal fallacy based on misrepresentation of an opponent's position, twisting his words or by means of [false] assumptions

              Your every comment in this thread confirms that you believe those who committed a felony should not be allowed to vote.

              ...but felons shouldn't be voting
              I'm opposed to granting the vote to those who have demonstrated they can't obey the basic laws (felons.)
              Some do change, I've known several who straightened out.  But that doesn't mean that I will ignore what they have done when the context warrants it--and voting requires basic judgement.  Afterall, voting is about electing folks to create and uphold the laws of the land.  Who is less qualified to do that than a convicted felon?
              So you want those who by and large have demonstrated they are predators on society to vote on what the rules should be and who should be creating/implementing them?
              Are these not your words? What wrong assumptions have I made based on those words? How have I misrepresented you?

              "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

              by CaliSista on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 02:40:18 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  Eugene Debs ran for President from a prison cell. (0+ / 0-)

      He recieved about a million votes.

      Disenfranchisement of felons is something I still favor.  I do not want them voting, period.    

      Are you suggesting that he should not have had the right to vote for himself?

      "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

      by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 09:32:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I didn't vote for the first time (3+ / 0-)

    in a while - not because I forgot or didn't want to, but because the damn polls in VA closed at 7:00.   Something came up at work and I didn't leave until after 6:30.  I think polls should stay open until at least 8:00.

  •  Instead of forcing people to vote (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    why not just give them a big incentive to vote.

    For example, if you vote you get a tax write-off of some sort.  What do you think?

  •  I vote in every election (2+ / 0-)

    Well, not in GOP primaries, because it is illegal to vote in both primaries.
    I have a misgiving about compulsory voting, and it comes from my memory of Mr. Bumble in 'Oliver Twist.' He thought that having strong opinions made him part of the bourgeoisie. "That boy will hang!" I worry that more bigots will vote.
    My city of Houston has a low voter turnout. Most of the people I know are political people, but I sometimes find people who don't know who their US Representative is, They seem to think they "just work here."
    A colleague in the Harris County Democratic Party often speaks up at meetings about voter suppression, but I do think he is over-estimating it. I do think many Houstonians do not take the responsibility.
    Just before the recent city election I urged fellow Democrats to use this election as a dress rehearsal to prepare for the new voter ID law and the 2012 election. I also asked Pacifica station KPFT to do a public service announcement. Then the voter ID law was put on hold, to be reviewed by the Justice Department.

    Censorship is rogue government.

    by scott5js on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:43:57 PM PST

    •  Actually the most recent studies show (0+ / 0-)

      that more nonvoters are liberal in their beliefs.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:02:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Houston, "I just work here" place (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      scott5js

      When I lived there for a few years that is the impression I had as well.  There was very little ownership feel to the citizenry.  For many of us, we were just there for our jobs/careers, planning the next stop.  I met some great folks in Houston, and there were aspects that I really liked about it, but it just wasn't a place I could ever bring myself to call "home."  

      Can't say that I had any buy-in to local politics while I was there, and the only elections I skipped in the past 10 years or so were there.

      "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

      by Celtic Pugilist on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 08:09:35 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Maybe I'm just not getting it, but (0+ / 0-)

    what's the problem with wanting photo-IDs at polling places? Without them, what stops me from driving around to every polling place in my county, taking a peak at the registration books, and just saying I'm the guy on top of the page? I can understand not wanting them to be anal about it (you must present this card that takes a year to get and has a $100 yearly renewal fee!), but saying "we just need to say anything with your picture and name on it" doesn't seem that weird to me...

    •  Not everyone has a photo ID n/t (5+ / 0-)

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:51:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  It's a Poll Tax (3+ / 0-)

      and previous Supreme Courts have repeatedly found such things flagrantly unConstitutional and in clear violation of the Fourteenth Amendment. (I won't lay any bets on the present Extreme Court, though.)

      Quite aside from the Constitutional issue, there's the practical issue of finding the money. People whose budgets already have too much month left at the end of the money aren't going to be able to spring for a fancy-schmancy photo-ID card. People who are elderly and/or disabled may not be able to jump through the hoops needed to get one (even if they have the money, which they often don't).

      It's just another way for the rich to arrogate power to themselves at the expense of the not-rich.

      If it's
      Not your body
      Then it's
      Not your choice
      AND it's
      None of your damn business!

      by TheOtherMaven on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:05:45 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  it's a form of poll tax (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      and the reality is that there are nearly zero people who do such things. Your community precinct is where you vote - my elections judges know me, my neighbors know me.
      The real fraud can take place (and does, I'm sure) in mail-in ballots. I know for a fact an elderly rightwing friend used to vote for his wife as she slid into dementia.

    •  Because you still need actual proof that you are (0+ / 0-)

      the person in the book. Unless you're planning to steal someone's utility bills or pay stub (which would be another crime), good luck with that.

      They tortured people to get false confessions to fraudulently justify our invading Iraq.

      by Ponder Stibbons on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:17:13 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  The problem is not (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      the one random person who may do this (and I'm sure it occasionally happens), the problem is that more people would be disenfranchised by not having the ID than would be deterred from committing fraud by a long shot. We're talking in the hundreds vs. millions range here.

      And the biggest question you should ask yourself, is do you want elected or appointed Secretaries of State from the opposing party setting new and interesting rules to get an ID?

      Try this on for size.

  •  Forget the attempts to disenfrancise the vote (7+ / 0-)

    Why does the voter apathy exist in the first place?

    That's a big part of the reason I have little or no tolerance for the "OWS needs to be registering voters" contingent.

    Across the board, young people and people of color don't feel that they have a stake in the system and have felt that way for sometime.

  •  How interesting. (5+ / 0-)

    How interesting it is that the diarist likes enacting a law mandating voting versus making the political system more responsive to the people's will so that it inspires involvement.

    It does fit the diarist's personality as thus far revealed on DK.

    Authoritarian to the core.

  •  What should be compulsory is jail time for (5+ / 0-)

    every single Republican who designed and/or voted for voter suppression in their state (or out of their state).  It's just another form of treason, IMHO.  That and fixing the vote at the e-voting machine ballot box.  Or throwing votes in the trash that don't agree with their form of "democracy."  Teaching civics in public school was thrown out by Republicans, as well.  An uniformed, disinterested, disenfranchised public is how they take power and, during the dark Bush years, keep it and abuse it.

    Best. President. Ever.

    by Little Lulu on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:50:40 PM PST

  •  Compulsory voting (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    oldhippie, Celtic Pugilist

    leads to ill-informed people (besides the ones who do vote) voting. If they don't care enough to vote, don't! It doesn't solve the problem of ballot access, as implied in the diary to me.

  •  Besides All The Fundamental Problems... (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ActivistGuy, SadieB

    ...there's the simple fact that the people in power would inevitably turn it into a Catch-22: "undesirables" would end up with a choice between 1)being fined for not showing up at the polls or 2)being fined for showing up at the polls and being found to have attempted "voter fraud".

    On the Internet, nobody knows if you're a dog... but everybody knows if you're a jackass.

    by stevemb on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:58:02 PM PST

  •  If you want to make voting compulsory (6+ / 0-)

    then you'd best give us something other than two corporatist parties.  Oh, right, it's like that whole public option health care thing, I should just fuggedaboudit because profits before people and all that.  Right, sorry, slipped my mind.

    If you're not careful, the newspapers will have you hating the people who are being oppressed, and loving the people who are doing the oppressing. ~Malcolm X

    by ActivistGuy on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 05:58:17 PM PST

  •  Infrequent Voters Significantly NonRepublican (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Celtic Pugilist, a2nite

    and non motivated by a Democratic Party that campaigns and governs for moderate conservatives.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:01:59 PM PST

  •  a lot of people just don't care (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY
  •  Voting is a right, not an obligation. (4+ / 0-)

    You should be able to choose to exercise a right.  Sometimes, the only way to avoid losing a fixed game is to not play.  

    If the foundations be destroyed, what can the righteous do? - Psalms 11:3

    by SpamNunn on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:06:06 PM PST

  •  It's not rocket science (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    One way to get more voters is to make registration simpler and easier. Imagine if people could do it at the Post Office, for example. (Well, while we still have the Post Office.)

    Same day registration is another no brainer - if people can register at a polling place, that's more likely to get impulse voters in. Whether or not that's a good thing is another matter.

    Extended voting can and does increase turnout. If people can go to polling places over one or two weeks, then they're more likely to find time to vote - especially if some of them are open around the clock and on weekends. It doesn't have to be in every polling place as long as it's in accessible places. We have freakin' computers for Pete's sake - it should be possible to let people vote where they can when they can while making sure their votes are recorded for the right precinct.

    Voting by mail is another option. While the envelope stuffing at the nursing home scenario is a possibility, it'd take some pretty determined people to pull off on a large scale.

    The problem that gets overlooked is that a lot of people fail to realize how critical primaries are. They may be more important than the general election, because it's where there's room for a larger field of more diverse candidates. Open versus closed primaries is another issue - whether primaries are limited to registered party members or not.

    Of course, all this assumes voting based on single choice per opening. Some have proposed weighted voting where voters can pick several candidates as say 1st or 2nd choice to sort things out if there's no clear majority for one candidate. That's a whole 'nother ball game.

    "No special skill, no standard attitude, no technology, and no organization - no matter how valuable - can safely replace thought itself."

    by xaxnar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:06:14 PM PST

  •  Registration should be compulsory, and easy (5+ / 0-)

    Voting should also be easy, but remain voluntary. E.g. all mail-in, postage paid (I don't understand why mail-in states still require postage, which IMO is a poll tax by another name). We shouldn't force people to vote, but we should make it easier, and encourage it, which making it easier does.

    "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

    by kovie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:06:16 PM PST

    •  It isn't considered a poll tax (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

      because you do have an option to hand-deliver your ballot on Election Day, if I remember right.

      •  Which takes time, gas, effort, etc. (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY, Celtic Pugilist

        And which not everyone can afford or spare on a work day. There should be no burden to vote beyond that needed to make up one's mind. I realize that we're not exactly talking about paying down a mortgage or running a marathon, but people are busy, financially strapped, etc., and anything that keeps them from voting is a bad thing. Democracy shouldn't be prioritized.

        "Liberty without virtue would be no blessing to us" - Benjamin Rush, 1777

        by kovie on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:40:02 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  compulsory voting is fine as long as NOTA (5+ / 0-)

    can be included as a choice on all ballots

    I am off my metas! Präsidentenelf-maßschach; Warning-Some Snark Above"Nous sommes un groupuscule" (-9.50; -7.03)

    by annieli on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:09:24 PM PST

  •  a note about ex-felons voting (6+ / 0-)

    In MN if you're off-paper, you get all of your civic rights back, including the right to vote. Many come out believing they will never get to vote again - it's the coolest thing in the world to do voter registration and tell an exfelon that yes - they can register and vote. I've seen some pretty happy faces.

  •  "Compelled Speech" (7+ / 0-)

    Without a constitutional amendment (which will never happen), any system of compulsory voting would violate the First Amendment's protection against government compelled speech.

    If the United States government can't compel a person to salute a flag or recite the pledge of allegiance, it damn well can't force individuals to take part in a political system if it's their choice not to take part in it.

    •  I'm somewhat torn, but lean toward ^that view. n/t (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Rimjob, MichaelNY

      "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

      by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:14:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A vote of (4+ / 0-)

        "none of the above" would address that issue. Or casting a blank ballot. It says you have to vote, it doesn't say you have to mark the ballot. You could just as easily vote for no one at all, as the ballot is still secret.

        •  Isn't simply not voting essentially the same thing (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Rimjob

          "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

          by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:12:57 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Not at all. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            MichaelNY, Denise Oliver Velez

            One requires you to participate in the process at least enough to say either "I don't support any of them" (NotA) or "I don't support this process" (blank).

            Making voting compulsory would also come with a swath of legislation designed to make it so people could access the ballot box. Right now we have too many laws in the way of making that work. It is absolutely amazing how often I need to explain simple rules around voting to people because they're weird.

            •  ...but you're willing to compel... (2+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              khereva, Rimjob

              "speech" and "political activity" in so far as you're willing to (en)force folks to show up to a precinct?  ...and if they don't?  They're sick...?

              I don't know...I lean 'no' on the compulsory voting issue.

              ...and what of primaries?  Is this idea only intended for general elections?

              "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

              by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:21:14 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  I again repeat (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                MichaelNY

                that you are not compelling speech, as a blank ballot is silence. You are not compelling political activity, as a blank ballot may mean you don't endorse the process or you don't believe in politics or whatever. A blank ballot allows all of those things.

                Certainly there would be exceptions for illness, options for absentee ballots, etc. In Maine a family member can already get a ballot at City Hall for someone with no issues. Obviously if someone is in a coma or otherwise incapacitated to the point that they cannot vote, then okay, we don't fine them. But I'm all for bringing ballots into nursing homes and hospitals to allow people to access the process if they are that ill. Frankly we should be doing that now.

                •  Well... (3+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  khereva, Rimjob, MichaelNY

                  I understand that is your view, but I have a different view.

                  I do believe it compels "speech," as "silence" can be a form of "speech."  And a person compelled to offer "silence" in the face of being compelled to take part in a political process IS being compelled to engage in "speech."

                  ...and compulsory voting (insisting people participate in the political process), if only by making them show up to the process taking place at a voting precinct, is compelling political activity.

                  How does one go about proving illness to an elections board (or which ever designated enforcement entity oversees compulsory voting compliance)?

                  ;)...there are plenty of nursing home/hospital votes taking place.  And I'm fairly certain in speculating that there were comatose patients "voting" too.  At least when I lived in Chicago and was an election judge...

                  "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                  by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:33:33 PM PST

                  [ Parent ]

                  •  If you review the laws in other countries (1+ / 0-)
                    Recommended by:
                    Denise Oliver Velez

                    the fine for not participating is small, like $50. If someone feels that passionately about not participating, I'm sure they will happily pay the fine, similar to the one people pay for disorderly conduct convictions as a result of civil disobedience.

                    As for proving illness, a medical bill/explanation of benefits would suffice. Or a doctor's note. And so on.

                    And really, I can't believe we're having this debate anyway. Having this debate would make sense if we actually had a compulsory system and we had 60% non-voters. The problem we face today is lack of government responsiveness due to a small electorate.

                    I think it makes infinitely more sense to slightly inconvenience a few upset people who have to go cast a blank ballot in order to open up the system to everyone else. Because, believe me, a compulsory system would be accessible as hell, or those pols would be voted out.

                    •  I know the position my family is in. (2+ / 0-)
                      Recommended by:
                      Rimjob, MichaelNY

                      $50 is a BFD, especially if it's a fine.

                      ...heh...so you favor a sort of "reverse poll tax?"

                      ...and so too, if someone has the misfortune of becoming ill on election day, they now have to go to the doctor, pay the co-pay (another BFD for some folks) in order to prove illness and avoid being fined...instead of just sipping chicken soup, or slurping NyQuill...

                      Ya know...I'm leaning WAY NO WAY on this, the more we discuss it!

                      "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                      by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:58:57 PM PST

                      [ Parent ]

                      •  gggrrrr....Thump to my head! (0+ / 0-)

                        ^^^"co-pay"...ASSumes folks have insurance!

                        What if folks don't have insurane!?!  Worse yet!

                        "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                        by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:34:54 PM PST

                        [ Parent ]

                      •  Or they could call someone (1+ / 0-)
                        Recommended by:
                        Denise Oliver Velez

                        to let them know they're ill and have a ballot delivered.

                        And sure, $50 may be a BFD, one easily fixed by showing up and casting a blank ballot. If someone wants to break the law, of course we penalize 'em for it. Yeah, compulsory voting has its problems, but most of them come back to the fact that Americans, like it or not, have bought into the Republican belief of rugged individualism.

                        The opposite of that would be the sociological perspective, that our issues are social, and must be solved by everyone. That starts at the ballot box, with very few excuses for not being involved in the solution. There shouldn't be a painless opt-out from democracy. I see this as civic responsibility, and I have never missed an election.

                        •  I will have to accept our continued disagreement. (0+ / 0-)

                          I can think of bajillion scenarios where this would cause unnecessary and outsized punitive pain to individuals.

                          So...address/amend and offer solutions to the problems contained within the idea of compulsory voting...and folks like me might get behind the idea, with enthusiasm.  Currently, I see more potential harm than good to this idea, but I am persuadable...

                          I can tell you what doesn't work though...treating the issue in any sort of shallow way by claiming $50 is a small sum (maybe to you, but certainly not to many others), or suggesting "just show up" to avoid the "reverse poll tax," which ignores circumstances beyond simply choosing to "break the law."

                          Thank you for the back-n-forth.  I have appreciated it.

                          All best,
                          Marjmar

                          "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                          by Marjmar on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 02:38:52 PM PST

                          [ Parent ]

                          •  Simplest one (3+ / 0-)

                            National vote by mail, postage-paid. Solves all those issues. You don't need to show up to vote, work doesn't interfere, etc. Then if you haven't voted, you're either incapacitated (and there can be provisions to address this, I am not a legislator and wouldn't dream of trying to word them), or you pretty clearly chose not to cast the ballot.

                            The biggest issue with this would be "what if you moved?" -- but we already have fines in place for people who carry driver's licenses with old addresses on them, so this wouldn't be new.

                            I am comfortable with debating the ins-and-outs on this, but if someone presents an idea, and you have issues with it, you should respond by offering solutions if they'd get you on board. Just like legislating, we have to start with an idea and expand upon it. That's how we get majorities on bills.

                          •  I'm disinclined to support compulsory voting... (0+ / 0-)

                            ...based upon my "speech" and "compelled political activity" concerns.  

                            Those are philosophical issues, not merely "mechanics"...

                            So, my offering solutions to the "mechanical" problems isn't on the table...since I'm, as yet, unwilling to sit at the compulsory voting table to hash-out solutions for potential problems/unintended consequences...

                            I merely raised those issues during the discussion.

                            "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                            by Marjmar on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 03:43:48 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Speech is tougher (2+ / 0-)

                            but I'm also an advocate of mandatory service (not just military, mind) for youth after high school, with paid undergraduate degrees afterward in exchange for that service. So I see "compelled activity" as perfectly acceptable, particularly insofar as it benefits society. We need things like the Civilian Conservation Corps again, too. There should be a wide variety of options for that service -- military service, Habitat for Humanity, whatever works for someone. But they should serve.

                            This is because I feel there is more to "citizenship" than birth, and that a successful nation is built by the hands of every person. It's a socialist viewpoint, but I don't think it has to get in the way of individualism in most ways, and certainly not in the way of capitalism.

                          •  Now that is an idea I'm inclined to support. (0+ / 0-)

                            (Public) Service tied to education...right up my alley of support for legislation like the Dream Act.  To me, legislative "arrangements" such as [that] are no-brainers.

                            I see subtle differences between compelling some conduct/behaviors vs. others.  I just do.

                            I was raised in a household that told me no matter how little I had, I still had more than some others, so I owed.

                            And I believe it to this day.  So, I have very little problem with nearly anything labeled or characterized as "socialist."

                            However, to some degree we part ways on how much interference with personal independence (vs. individualism) there may be...how much may be too much?  ...and I do recognize that too is a "philosophical" p.o.v.

                            "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                            by Marjmar on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 04:46:00 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                          •  Certainly (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            CaliSista, Debbie in ME

                            And I accept your viewpoint as a valid one that I disagree with. For my part, I don't think expecting citizens to spend a little time educating themselves about their government, and then determining how they will vote (for/against, none of the above, blank ballot, whatever) is "too much". You disagree, and that's okay. Of course, I also live in a state where I can be in easy contact with all my representatives, so determining how they stand on issues is easy for me.

                            I'm just happy that you're debating the issue, instead of attacking the author, like some did. This has been a good discussion.

                          •  Thank you for that. I sincerely appreciate your (2+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            CaliSista, Eddie in ME

                            recognition of the value in issue-based debate(s).  I thank you for the partnership you've offered to our discussion.

                            I'd throw out a snarky Winston Churchill quotation, about the average voter and democracy...but... ;)  Even Winston well knew he was being snarky and contradicting the very principles of democracy he believed in.

                            We do disagree.  And I could even begin to take down my own argument, based on some fundamentals of history; however, even then I run into intellectual road-blocks.

                            As for contacts with representatives...  I live in Illinois.  Wise folks generally attempt to avoid contact, unless they've got a Hazmat team on standby. ;)

                            I confess to not reading much of the comments for this post, as I've been focused on our conversation...so, I have not seen the attacks.  Attacks which, after my having read and recc'd the post for it's thought-provoking possibilities even while I disagree, would seem of little value...

                            "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

                            by Marjmar on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:10:01 PM PST

                            [ Parent ]

                    •  Many refuse to pay such fines, ... (0+ / 0-)

                      ...and are jailed for Contempt of Court, instead.

                      If someone feels that passionately about not participating, I'm sure they will happily pay the fine, similar to the one people pay for disorderly conduct convictions as a result of civil disobedience.

                      "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

                      by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 09:50:03 AM PST

                      [ Parent ]

    •  The government compells us to do a lot (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma, wu ming, tardis10, a2nite

      of things.  No one would be telling you who to vote for.

      We are compelled to go to school up to a certain grade.  

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:22:23 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, apples and oranges... (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        ilmartello, Celtic Pugilist, khereva

        ...to borrow a recently maligned phrase.

        The schooling issue: the government does not compel people to attend public schools, or private schools, or be home-schooled; the various alternatives mitigate the compulsory nature.  Additionally, the "up to a certain" age presumes the best interests of minors; adults are presumed (arguably) to know what is in their best interests.

        "The most potent weapon in the hands of the oppressor is the mind of the oppressed." ~ Steven Biko

        by Marjmar on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:26:51 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Bad idea too. (0+ / 0-)

        Wait a few years.  Our lovely government will be mandating you pay tuition to some worthless "charter" school for your kids.

        Government and capitalism.  Best buds.

        Keep all the oppressors off our back.

        For some ex-Panther, you're sure out of tune.  Discard that authoritarian impulse and embrace democracy.

        •  So what do you think your taxes are doing right (4+ / 0-)

          now, paying for private schools?  

          Hate to break the news to you but your taxes, aka tuition in your book pay for both public and charter schools right now.

          Oh, and you can drop the "authoritarian" accusations.  Its getting old.    

          •  Tuition != taxes. (0+ / 0-)

            Both are bad when used to prop up worthless, for-profit institutions.  But we'll see truancy laws enforced against parents who have no choice but for-profit "charter" schools.

            Think that's a good idea?

            Just as good as Obama's private insurance company mandate.

            The State propping up Capitalism.  Things must be getting dicey for the 1%.  And their silly defenders like you.

      •  so what else (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        khereva, pot

        would you have the government mandate?

        mandatory exercise?
        nutrition classes?
        sensitivity training?

        what else

      •  So..... (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Pugilist, khereva

        For the sake of argument, what if someone doesn't believe in democracy or voting? You're compelling them to take part in a system they don't believe in.

        What about Jehova's Witness? Will they be compelled to vote too? And if they get an exception because they don't "believe" in political involvement, why shouldn't anyone else who doesn't want to be involved get the same exception?

        Also, compulsory school attendance is different than voting, since compelled school attendance is considered a reserved power of the individual states via the 10th Amendment. Voting & compelled speech runs smack dab into the 1st Amendment, etc. & has different considerations.

    •  No it's not. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez

      secret ballot.

      "So, am I right or what?"

      by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:28:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Wooley v. Maynard, 430 U.S. 705 (1977) (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Pugilist, khereva

        From the Majority Opinion by Chief Justice Burger:

        We begin with the proposition that the right of freedom of thought protected by the First Amendment against state action includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all. See Board of Education v. Barnette, 319 U.S. 624, 633 -634 (1943); id., at 645 (Murphy, J., concurring). A system which secures the right to proselytize religious, political, and ideological causes must also guarantee the concomitant right to decline to foster such concepts. The right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking are complementary components of the broader concept of "individual freedom of mind."
        •  No reference to voting though. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          Which is my point.

          You're obligation as as a citizen is to show up. Who you vote for or against, or write in NOTA or leave it blank, that's your freedom of speech.

          "So, am I right or what?"

          by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:03:15 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  The Act Of Showing Up.... (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            khereva

            And taking part in the system is arguably conduct covered by the First Amendment. The act of voting itself (whether yea, nay or none of the above) is arguably an expression of support for the system since you're participating in it. There will invariably be someone or group of someones who don't believe in the system, and yet they will be compelled to take part in it.

            In Doe v. Reed (pdf), the Supreme Court dealt with First Amendment speech rights attributed to people who signed petitions.

            The expression of a political view implicates a First Amendment right. The State, having “cho[sen] to tap the energy and the legitimizing power of the democratic process, . . .  must accord the participants in that process the First Amendment rights that attach to their roles.”
            •  Compelling participation in the system, (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Denise Oliver Velez

              ...whether it's voting in person or absentee, is not speech, any more than compelling obeying motor vehicle laws is, which also connotes acceptance of the system.

              "So, am I right or what?"

              by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:24:37 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Hmmmm..... (1+ / 0-)
                Recommended by:
                khereva

                Where in driving a car do I check a box expressing a political viewpoint?

                From one of the concurrences in Nevada Comm'n on Ethics v. Carrigan, 126 Nev. 28, 236 P. 3d 616 (2011):

                Just as the act of signing a petition is not deprived of its expressive character when the signature is given legal consequences, the act of voting is not drained of its expressive content when the vote has a legal effect. If an ordinary citizen casts a vote in a straw poll on an important proposal pending before a legislative body, that act indisputably constitutes a form of speech.
            •  The Act of Buggering Off: (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              Rimjob
              The act of voting itself (whether yea, nay or none of the above) is arguably an expression of support for the system since you're participating in it.

              There will invariably be someone or group of someones who don't believe in the system, and yet they will be compelled to take part in it.

              The day I'm "compelled" by this or any other goverment to "vote" will be the day I swallow the "red pill". IF I vote it will be because I beleive the person I'm voting for is worthy of that vote.

              Talk about a slippery slope. I imagined people who are beneficiaries of state assistance. What about them? They should be "compelled" too, huh? They already want them to pee in a bottle...the implications go on forever.

        •  They maintain that right. (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

          Blank ballot.

    •  Very good point (5+ / 0-)

      It really smacks of authoritarianism.  It certainly rubs me the wrong way and perhaps enough that I would use that coerced vote to reject proponents of it.  It's ironic because I rarely miss voting.

      A company I worked for long had mandatory contributions to United Way.  Oh, it was supposed to be "voluntary" but employees who didn't contribute would get called into their supervisor's office for a chat and some arm twisting.  Many despised the program.  Despite the coerced contributions, the company had a hard time hitting its goals.  Finally one year, the pledges were made confidential and the coercion ended.  The company had the highest pledge total ever that year and easily blew away the goals.  They stuck with the new system.

      "Money is like manure. You have to spread it around or it smells." J. Paul Getty

      by Celtic Pugilist on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:56:09 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  for compulsory voting + lowering age to 16 (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    where it is done there is an option of blank so no one's moral or religious conscious needs be bothered by it

  •  A primary reason why (8+ / 0-)

    people don't vote is that they are unhappy with having only two choices and in most places, Americans only have one choice. Most Americans live in districts and in states where either the Democrats or Republicans completely dominate. So elections aren't competitive. What's the point in voting if your side will always be outnumbered no matter what you do?

    The two-party system, coupled with the Winner Take All/First Past the Post way we have elections, is a failure. Winners are determined by who gets the largest plurality of votes and not by who gets the largest amount of support. Second, the U.S. House of Representatives, at 435 members, is far too small to adequately represent 300 million people. Third, the makeup of the Senate must change. The outdated two Senators-per-state system has resulted in a small percentage of the population - one that is predominantly rural and conservative - having a disproportionate and undeserved amount of influence and power. I am angry that a red state like Wyoming, with hardly anyone living there, has more influence than my state of California with 30 million people. And why is Harry Reid Senate majority leader? He only represents just under 3 million people. Why are we tolerating a situation where one person, say the likes of Jim Demint who represents just under 5 million people, gets to derail legislation that many, many more Americans support? This is unsustainable as well as unacceptable. The makeup of the Senate is the biggest obstacle to progressive change.

    I even question the usefulness of the current presidential system, and think the U.S. should eventually change to a multi-party parliamentary democracy, which is the dominant form of democracy in the world today. And the new system must have proportional representation, where if X Party gets 30% of the vote, it gets 30% of the seats in the Legislature. And we should also consider instant runoff voting.  

    Certainly universal registration will help immensely. Perhaps mandatory voting. But I don't think we should start penalizing people for not voting until their votes truly do count.

    "Behind every great fortune is a great crime." - Honore de Balzac

    by mooremusings on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:17:08 PM PST

  •  I'm a bit split. (4+ / 0-)

    While I think an informed electorate voting is a great thing, I think a misinformed electorate is a dangerous thing, and that many of our problems spring from things like case law that feels that it's fine and dandy for people to outright lie in campaign ads, and from the prioritization of 'belief' over 'reality' by many who already vote.

    Of course the fatal flaw is that the folks who actually work to institute restrictions on voting always seem to do so for partisan (or racist) reasons.  They want to stop specific individuals from voting, not find a way to actually ensure that voters are actually informed in a non-partisan way about the likely results of their choices.

    So in an ideal world, I'd almost want to see voters having to sit through 'orientations' full of information from groups like the CBO prior to voting, in reality, I know the best we can do is simply work to make voting as easy as possible for everyone, and work like mad to find the best way to actually expose voters to the real numbers and results of specific votes over the months prior to elections.

  •  Dee, you inspire us (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, doroma, Matt Z

    My son has to write an essay this week about how awesome it is to be an American and get to vote for our leaders. He went on a rant about how only 17% of people here bothered to vote for school board, which is kind of a big thing for a kid in school. I'm going to have him read this and maybe refer to it for his paper.

    I know which side I am on: the one that does the math.

    by Grassroots Mom on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 06:38:21 PM PST

  •  Do you know people in your family who don't vote? (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    We shouldn't wait for the Government to force people to vote. Instead, we should educate the people we know (and volunteer our time to help others) to vote.
    I took it upon myself to make sure everyone in my family votes. Or at least is constantly reminded to vote.

  •  Sounds like a bad idea to me (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ohmproject, khereva

    although I understand why it might appear attractive to people.

    I just don't see the sense in forcing people to take a stand on something they essentially don't care about.

    Maybe, like jury duty, we should start to pay people to do their civic duty when they vote. Just a little reward of about 10 dollars. I bet that would get people who might otherwise not vote out there, cover transportation costs, you know.

  •  Automatic registration, not mandatory voting (9+ / 0-)

    These are two different issues, but why aren't citizens automatically registered to vote?  I believe they are in Europe.  Removing that extra step would eliminate many of the easier ways for voter suppression to occur, without the need for mandatory voting (which my initial reaction says is probably unworkable).

  •  It's a terrible idea. The whole point of (5+ / 0-)

    voting is to legitimize power.

    If people no longer even had a choice about voting, that would only further delegitimize the government. If we have no say in choosing our leaders then we owe them no loyalty and no obedience.

    Truly the destruction of the earth only results from the destitution of its inhabitants, and its inhabitants become destitute only when rulers concern themselves with amassing wealth. Caliph Ali, 7th century

    by SadieB on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:10:06 PM PST

    •  I agree (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      SadieB, ohmproject, Celtic Pugilist

      Despite the yelling and screaming from both parties, neither actually have much legitimacy. The goal shouldn't be to rush to a 3rd world democracy, but for something better.

      If less than 50% vote for leaders, they should all be removed and a new vote taken.

      Politics no longer touches the average American. It's like the Republicans overreaching in Ohio. But the Dems are no better. If every Dem actually pushed a worker friendly agenda, with health-care.....one that didn't give Walmart heirs cheap Chinese labor (Clinton), Cheney's oil buds Cayman Island legal freebies to bypass basic American laws and taxes (both sides), then maybe we the people would be a little more supportive.

      When Tom Daschle retired, he didn't go to support Democratic principles. He went for a multi-million lobbying job.

      When someone like Al Gore shows up...who actually has principles....he gets no backing from his fellow Democrats. They don't want to stop the oil/coal/wall street gravy train.

  •  Hey, congratulations on a provocative diary! (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, doroma, tardis10

    Real discussion! Go figure...

    "So, am I right or what?"

    by itzik shpitzik on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:10:13 PM PST

  •  Really interesting diary and discussion, (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, CaliSista

    thank you!  

    This topic has come up many times at my house, especially during elections, when turnout is never high enough (and, of course, when the outcome is disappointing :). "If people were just better informed," we say, "so-and-so probably would have won."

    "So-and so" still might have lost, of course :)  I'm afraid I keep going back and forth on mandatory voting. But I agree with those who've mentioned better education as a major key to citizen involvement and voter turnout. But not just civics, how government works and peoples' role in making it work. I think critical thinking and the ability to detect propaganda (from both sides) have to come into it as well. And they have to be treated as seriously as math and science are today.

    And definitely some kind of universal registration and good access to polls are needed. But I'm not sure that mandatory voting without good education behind it will lead to much more than a bigger turnout and many people still voting against their own interests.

    Thanks again for the diary!

  •  "Felon" means more than one who has committed (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Celtic Pugilist

    a serious crime.  The decision to convict you of a felony is also a decision that you are a bad person, a person of bad morals, we can't trust you, we don't like you, and we don't want you around.  Part of "we don't want you around" is "we don't want bad people like you participating in our civic life."  

    Missing from discussions of the number of felons who are permitted to vote is a statistic as to the percentage of restored felons who actually do vote.  That is, do enough choose to vote that it really matters to the vote count or to the body politic?

    There is a simple solution to avoiding the loss of civil rights as the result of a felony conviction:  don't commit a felony.  That's one of the things taught in our backward, status quo-oriented schools.
     

    •  Given the reality of our for-profit prison (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      tardis10, Denise Oliver Velez

      system, the one that gives us the highest incarceration rate in the world, that's a pretty naive point of view.

      Truly the destruction of the earth only results from the destitution of its inhabitants, and its inhabitants become destitute only when rulers concern themselves with amassing wealth. Caliph Ali, 7th century

      by SadieB on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:39:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  no. that is not the solution - what is a solution (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      doroma, tardis10

      is a complete overhaul of the Criminal InJustice System.

      Who winds up with felony convictions, and incarcerated has more to do with class and race than anything else.

      "If you're in a coalition and you're comfortable, you know it's not a broad enough coalition" Bernice Johnson Reagon

      by Denise Oliver Velez on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:43:42 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  A person of any class, race, age, or gender (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Celtic Pugilist

        can choose not to commit a felony.  Not committing a felony is the first step to avoiding conviction and incarceration.  It is a solution, the easiest solution possible.

        •  A person of some races (7+ / 0-)

          is more likely to be thrown in jail for a crime they didn't commit.

          Also, felons are free people once they're out of jail. They should have any and all rights restored to them once they have served their time. I'm actually in favor of letting prisoners vote, but I'm rather tired of people encouraging recidivism by making life after prison so difficult for people that their best available option is to reoffend.

        •  those incarcerated for felonies (5+ / 0-)

          are not a random sample of those who commit felonies, and in many cases, they aren;t even people who committed felonies in the first place. the criminal justice system is seriously corrupt, and giving certain political parties a vested interest in convicting and incarcerating certain demographics tends to exacerbate the problem.

          these restrictions of the vote to felons started cropping up in the 1880s, after reconstruction and the 14th amendment, and the rise of african-american voters. not an accident.

        •  No one you know has ever committed (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, Denise Oliver Velez

          a felony and/or been incarcerated for ANY reason? You're comfortable painting that broad a brush over millions of people?

          "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

          by CaliSista on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 12:17:30 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

      •  I'm going to have to agree with both of you here. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY

        On the macro level, I'm inclined to believe that our criminal justice system is set up, likely as a result of unspoken prejudices, to adversely fall upon Latino/African-American populations.  But on a micro level, most felons (let's not get into misdemeanors, which raise much more difficult issues but don't tend to impede voting) are convicted of committing an act that I think the vast majority of people would agree should be a crime if the facts were presented to them without the race or social status of the defendant being known.

        "What Washington needs is adult supervision" - Barack Obama

        by auron renouille on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:04:57 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Don't know that I'd agree with your (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          MichaelNY, Denise Oliver Velez

          supposition or that your micro level definition makes a difference wrt restoration of voting rights.

          But on a micro level, most felons [...] are convicted of committing an act that I think the vast majority of people would agree should be a crime
          For one, there are quite a number of people who believe drug offenses should not be crimes so a large number of the incarcerated due to the War on Drugs would never have lost their voting rights if those folks had their way. Second, even if the crime definition was agreed upon by all, many would still argue that voting rights should be restored once the sentence has been completed.

          "Someone just turned the lights on in the bar and the sexiest state doesn't look so pretty anymore" CA Treasurer Bill Lockyer on Texas budget mess

          by CaliSista on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 02:26:05 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

    •  According to the The Sentencing Project (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, Denise Oliver Velez

      the rate of voting by people who have served time for felony convictions is in the 10-15% range, and resembles that of the community and socioeconomic class of the individual.  (Very poor people have very low voting rates.)

      You equivocate about one felony being equivalent to any other.  There are millions of nonviolent people in American prisons and  people who have gone through them on drug-related charges that are legal felonies but the amounts are trivial.  And many (this accounts for many women inmates) are convicted on felony 'conspiracy' charges for not informing on boyfriends or other very close relations they know to be dealing small amounts of drugs but actually dealt in fairly large amounts.  The system is rather cruel or disproportionately punitive about nonviolent nonfinancial offenses poor people commit.

      No other First World country does the legal diminuition to second class citizens or noncitizen equivalent status due to felony conviction that  the U.S. does.    Frankly, few Third World countries do it either.

      Your argument overall gets very close to saying that American felon = sociopath and anti-assimilated, and therefore obviously incompetent to judge his/her social group's best interests.  But the danger exists that they might vote, so best to cut off that possibility.  Well, American social reality since the 1990s is that practically all Americans are now substantially assimilated to mainstream culture and those who are embittered about American society simply do not vote- they have no party.

      And that- no party- is a consequence of separatism breaking down as an viable option in American life between about 1968 and 1995.  We may not be integrating very well- see the recent fighting on this site- but there are no true Third Ways in American public life anymore.  What Third Ways there are are dysfunctional, not creative.

  •  Compulsory voting (3+ / 0-)

    I don't really favor compulsory voting because I believe that choosing not to vote is potentially a form of protest that should be constitutionally protected. However, forcing everyone to vote is preferable to the current situation, in which people who want to and should be able to vote are denied that right - except for one thing. If voting were compulsory, anyone who has a religious reason not to vote, such as Amish people, will have to be excepted.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:49:36 PM PST

    •  No they wouldn't. (0+ / 0-)
      If voting were compulsory, anyone who has a religious reason not to vote, such as Amish people, will have to be excepted.

      We could just declare them as unpatriotic and throw their asses in jail.

      And just think of the economic stimulus that building prisons to house unpatriotic nonvoters would provide.

      "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

      by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 10:03:41 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I keep saying it: (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, nominalize

    vote by mail.  register on line.  It works extremely well in Oregon and has for 15 years.  At first I missed going to the polling place - the sense of participatory democracy and hearing 'RadGal70 has voted.'  

    But I don't miss waiting in line or having to rush after work when the kids needed to be somewhere, or be picked up from somewhere.  Or walking several blocks in the rain because the parking lot at the school was full.

    I also worried that my kids might not have the same feeling that voting was a duty because of the ease of voting by mail, but they are both active citizens.  I conclude that however it is done, knowing that the adults in your life think voting is important is what matters.

    Now I love it - I take my time, and can read the Voters Pamphlet even about the obscure races for the water commission, or judgeships.  Some people have voting parties where everyone bring their ballot and they discuss the issues before voting.  

    You don't need a photo ID, and no one hangs around questioning your right to vote like Renquist did in the 1960s. Vote by mail is the future.

    •  Everyone in Florida has the right (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

      to vote by mail if they want to, but it works much better for the Republicans since they are able to mount vote-by-mail campaigns comparable to direct-mail marketing campaigns, relentlessly bombarding their voters with reminders. Vote by mail has been a boon for G.O.P.  

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 05:14:55 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Great diary and discussion (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

    I'd like to see automatic registration and the option to vote by mail. The point is to increase participation. Honestly, am too tired to think more deeply on this right now, but thanks to Denise for sparking the conversation. I also read Galston's piece on this issue, and have been talking about it and thinking about it since. Good night all!

    My forthcoming book Obama's America: A Transformative Vision of Our National Identity will be published in Summer 2012 by Potomac Books.

    by Ian Reifowitz on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 07:54:26 PM PST

  •  I just edited your tags (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, CaliSista

    to cross-post this to DK Elections. I think a lot of the regulars there might not see this interesting diary, otherwise.

    Formerly Pan on Swing State Project

    by MichaelNY on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 08:19:47 PM PST

  •  Who is eligible to register to vote (0+ / 0-)

    & can't?  I mean where do they prevent you from registering to vote & prevent you from voting?  

    "There ain't no sanity clause." Chico Marx

    by DJ Rix on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 08:43:06 PM PST

    •  In Maine (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      MichaelNY, Denise Oliver Velez

      if the law re: same-day registration had stayed on the books and not been vetoed, anyone moving into a new home on the 1st of November would have been denied the vote if the election were held on the 2nd.

      I'm sure there are countless examples elsewhere. Like the old woman I read about a few weeks ago who now needs a birth certificate to get a photo ID, can't locate it, and is disenfranchised.

  •  Compulsory Voter Registration is better (5+ / 0-)

    I think compulsory voting is a dicey idea, especially in a country of paranoids like the USA. However, compulsory registration might eliminate some of the problems that come from the GOP trying to restrict eligibility. It would certainly stop the bad acts we read about on this site recently regarding Republicans destroying registration applications marked "Democratic." Voter caging might still be employed, but to what effect?

    Coming Soon -- to an Internet connection near you: Armisticeproject.org

    by FischFry on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 09:26:03 PM PST

    •  Prefer the term "Automatic Voter Registration". (0+ / 0-)
      Compulsory Voter Registration is better

      The word "compulsory" would seem to imply that it something that the citizen is required to do under penalty of law, rather than something that happens automatically to facilitate ease in voting.

      "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

      by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 10:10:49 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  there's a lot we could do (4+ / 0-)

    if the powers that be had any interest in expanding the electorate, which they don't:

    universal registration, compulsory voting (with the same right as today to write someone in or leave a given race blank), universal mail-in ballots, election day holiday, same-day registration, lowering the franchise to 16, universal suffrage regardless of criminal record or incarceration, etc.

  •  I too now believe voting should be compulsory (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    WisJohn, Denise Oliver Velez, a2nite

    It is absurd to me that we can compel jury service but not voting.

    "There is nothing more dreadful than the habit of doubt. Doubt separates people. It is a poison that disintegrates friendships and breaks up pleasant relations. It is a thorn that irritates and hurts; it is a sword that kills.".. Buddha

    by sebastianguy99 on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 10:54:44 PM PST

  •  I'm a little troubled by compulsory voting. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY, Celtic Pugilist

    For once, it's most likely illegal.  The Supreme Court has long held that the First Amendment has both negative and positive implications; you have the right to speak but you also have the right to not speak, that silence is also a 1st Amendment exercise.  Voting is likely going to be taken as a form of speech.  You could theoretically get around this by simply requiring people to show up at their polling place at the appointed date but not require them to take the final step of voting.  This would also protect Jehovah's Witnesses who, per upthread, apparently are against voting.  I believe there are other religious minorities who do not vote based on the premise that, I guess, the "true" world is that which is to come.  But when you have to create those kinds of absurd exigencies for a law to pass First Amendment muster, it's a sign that you might be drafting a well-intentioned but bad law and you should really stop and reconsider.

    I do agree that we need to take steps towards either streamlining or, better yet, effectively abolishing voter registration and replacing it with a simple requirement to provide proof of identity/residence.  It's not clear to me why both layers are necessary in an age of computerized records.

    At the end of the day, however, if voting is made as easy as possible while registration shenanigans are made as hard as possible, and a person still chooses not to vote, I don't see how our society is improved by forcing the utterly disinterested to vote regardless.

    "What Washington needs is adult supervision" - Barack Obama

    by auron renouille on Sun Nov 13, 2011 at 11:21:03 PM PST

    •  Voting isn't speech (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Oh Mary Oh, Denise Oliver Velez

      It is a completely separate right, addressed in the articles of the constitution itself and by several separate amendments (15th, 19th, 24th 26th), none of which would have been necessary if voting was speech.

      "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

      by nominalize on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 06:53:02 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Miller v. Hull (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        MichaelNY

        Link here to 1st Cir. opinion:

        Although we have found no cases directly on point, probably because it is considered unassailable, we have no difficulty finding that the act of voting on public issues by a member of a public agency or board comes within the freedom of speech guarantee of the first amendment. This is especially true when the agency members are elected officials. There can be no more definite expression of opinion than by voting on a controversial public issue.

        The Supreme Court later limits Miller on the narrow issue of whether a public official voting in an open meeting can be censured for failing to recuse due to a conflict of interest.  But Miller is still the law when it comes to personal, private voting.  Even Justice Alito still held that, “Voting has an expressive component in and of itself.”

        "What Washington needs is adult supervision" - Barack Obama

        by auron renouille on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 08:22:18 AM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  wait a minute (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Denise Oliver Velez

          But that is a case about public officials voting in public, and being punished by other officials for the choices they made. Other cases (like Mihos v Swift) have ruled similarly, about public officials.

          But what we're talking about in this diary is actually very different.

          Perhaps public votes are `speech', but that protection doesn't necessarily extend to private votes. We the people vote by secret ballot, and out of the public eye, and that makes a huge difference, as none of us is subject to any punishment for our votes.  For there to be a direct applicability, it would be if they had sued because they (a public official) weren't abstain from a vote by secret ballot.  

          The fact is, as long as there is an option for 'none' or 'neither yes nor no', compelling people to make a choice is not a restriction on their speech.  

          Even Justice Alito still held that, “Voting has an expressive component in and of itself.”
           

          I'm not sure what "even" says; the concept isn't one that tranches along liberal/conservative lines.  What of Scalia's reply that voting is not inherently expressive--- essentially, a vote can be made for all sorts of reasons.  

          "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

          by nominalize on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 10:46:06 AM PST

          [ Parent ]

  •  Obama lost my vote (0+ / 0-)

    & isn't even trying to win it back...

    I didn't abandon the fight, I abandoned the Party that abandoned the fight...

    by Jazzenterprises on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 04:16:05 AM PST

  •  I don't vote (0+ / 0-)

    For many of the same reasons I believe most others don't.  Voting doesn't change anything.  Sure, periodically the inmates can decide who the new warden might be, but that doesn't change the fact that we're still prisoners.  When I vote, my choice is between the person who wants to steal x amount of my money and use it to fund more government or the person who wants to steal less than x amount of my money and use it to fund more government.  Either way, the Dems and the Repubs are just opposite sides of the same corrupt, thieving coin.

    I talk to people who don't vote, people of all demographics, and ask them why.  The answer I most commonly get is that voting doesn't change anything.  I believe that is the fundamental reason why people don't vote.

    I want to get rid of unemployment.  I want to get rid of all welfare programs (including medicare, medicaid and social security).  I want to get rid of the 900+ military bases we have across the planet.  I want to get us out of the myriad wars in which we currently find ourselves.  I want to get rid of the IRS.  I want to get rid of the police state in which we currently live.  I want to get rid of government entirely.

    Someone please tell me how my one vote is going to make any of that happen?  Even if I'm lucky enough to find a candidate with the moral fortitude to a) say they're going to do all of that and b) actually follow through with it and manage to get them elected to a high enough office, I still have to fight an uphill battle against the likes of you who believe that government is the greatest thing since sliced bread.  I have spent the majority of my adult life fighting against liberals and conservatives and, yet, somehow, I still live in a police state, I still have money stolen from me at gunpoint to give to lazy bums who have no desire to take care of themselves but instead want to rely on me to do it.  Even here, I have to fight against someone's crazy notion that just by passing a law, the government can compel me to vote or to even show up at the poll.  Clearly a violation of my first amendment rights.

    So tell me again, exactly, what my one vote is going to accomplish?   Give me an honest chance to undo the damage that hundreds of years of progressive and conservative policies have done to my life as well as to the lives of pretty much everyone around the world and I'll gladly vote.

    Besides, you really don't want more people voting, you want more people voting who agree with you and want to steal more and more money from people who actually work for a living to give to people who don't.

    •  Yawn... (3+ / 0-)
      the government can compel me to vote or to even show up at the poll.  Clearly a violation of my first amendment rights.

      Voting and free speech are completely distinct.  That's why we've had to add no fewer than 4 amendments to the constitution to address voting rights, despite the existence of the 1st amendment.

      So tell me again, exactly, what my one vote is going to accomplish?

      Are you an economist?  Economists don't understand why people bother to vote, because the chance of affecting the outcome of any single vote is miniscule.  It's like playing the lottery.  Then again, economists are maybe missing the point of voting, which is not to win, but to make your choice.  Voting accomplishes that goal.  (Granted, some people would rather be able to vote for a best-of-all choice, not just best-of-the-buffet.  But that's not a problem of voting, but one of election management)

      steal more and more money from people who actually work for a living to give to people who don't.

      Ah, the old "taxes are theft" whine.  No, taxes are your duty.  Like any duty, doing it comes at a cost--- jury duty costs your time, military duty may cost your life.  Funny enough, when the government requires you do those, you do it or go to jail.

      If you're so averse to duty that you're unwilling to return a part of your income to the country and state that made your income possible, your moral failings are too great to address in this mere comment.  Perhaps your immorality explains why most Americans disagree with you about taxes.  

      Does anyone like paying taxes? No. But you're not supposed to like it--- it's your duty.  

      And besides, the majority of people who receive benefits from the government already have jobs, or are receiving unemployment payments that were essentially withheld from their checks when they were working.  For some reason, our employers think it's wise and right to pay people less than what they need to live, while pocketing massive profits and pretending it's an accomplishment.  But if you're rich because your employees are poor, you haven't earned it.  The reckoning is nigh.

      "You're not stuck in traffic, you are traffic."

      by nominalize on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 07:05:46 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Not voting doesn't change anything either (3+ / 0-)

      in fact, by not voting you are guaranteeing that change won't happen because only the people who like things as they are (or TP'ers who want to make things worse) vote. People have been not voting in greater and greater numbers, and things are getting worse and worse.

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 05:23:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Carrot v. Stick (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez

     It has been proposed that Election Day should be a holiday, so that more people can (and should) vote.
       If a system could be devised whereby this would be a paid holiday (for those that are working) if there was proof that the employee voted, would that motivate people to vote?  
        Of course, this isn't perfect, but if that same plan would also apply to early voting - then voting could be a staggered approach that wouldn't require a company shut-down.  If this process was applied to early voting, then the "holiday" could be reduced to a half-day holiday and could be scheduled.

        The idea that voting should be a positive, instead of a chore, long lines, etc.   I'm not sure how OR has set up it's elections, but they are electronic.  With the recent FCC ruling that low income families will have lowered cost for broad-band Internet and low cost PC's, that may be a model to look at.

  •  Here is something to consider (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    CaliSista

    Sure, putting obstacles in the way of people who want to vote will surely reduce turnout. But I think that many people who don't vote do so on purpose: they don't vote because on many or all of the issues, they feel they are not informed enough (or, sadly, interested enough) to have a valid opinion. I can recall several elections when I was a young, new voter, and before Internet, when I was literally voting, on many down-ballot seats or issues, based solely on information that was printed on the ballot! I had literally never heard of the people running for some of those positions. Hell, in some cases, I'd never heard of the positions and had very little idea of what their significance was. I am pessimistic enough to be certain that there are still a lot of voters in that position today.

    In a general sense, I don't know how to resolve this. Do we really want people to vote if they are just flipping a coin on most issues? Or voting for someone because their name seems a little more familiar to them than the others?

    This was actually less of an issue a few decades ago because back then, party affiliation was more important. You didn't really have to study the issues all that much if you were persuaded that the Republican Party was “your” party and that it was important for you to go to the polls and vote straight GOP. I'm sure that some people still do that. But let's be honest: do we really want to go back to the days of the big-party electoral machines? And in any case, I'm not sure that the left would gain from this; in fact, they might well lose, due to the marketability of the Republican brand.

    Even in 2008, when people came out to the polls in large numbers to vote for Barack Obama, how many of these new voters voted intelligently for the down-ballot issues? I have a feeling that many of them voted like I sometimes did back in the 1960's: incompetently.

    Another factor is that sometimes potential voters feel that all choices are equally bad, and think that by not voting, they will somehow improve the situation. However, if you are informed enough, there is almost always some reason to favor one stinker over another. Preventing the worst person from winning is a victory of sorts, even if as a result a not very great person does win.

    My point it that it takes considerable effort to be a well-informed voter.  Someone who registers on the day of the election may in fact be an excellent voter, knowledgeable on all issues, and ready to go. But how likely is that, really?

    I guess what I'm saying is that the voter turn-out effort should not be focused solely on registering voters and helping them to get to the polls. That's important, without a doubt, but not sufficient. For one thing, voting once might increase their interest and they might try to inform themselves a bit better for subsequent elections. But our job doesn't stop with registering voters: we must do our part to make it easier for voters to become informed and knowledgeable on all issues and candidates on the ballot. (And not just our side of the story, either!)

    I feel that voter education is at least as important as getting out the vote, if we really want to have a functioning democracy. I would like to hear more about voter education projects as a way to maximize the results of our ongoing voter turn-out projects.

    •  The Republican "brand" is already (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Denise Oliver Velez, a2nite

      dominant by virtue of only half the electorate voting...they have a solid 25-30% that votes far more consistently than anyone else. The only hope for leftward movement is to get more than 60% of the population to vote on a regular basis.

      And as for people flipping a coin...we'd still have much better odds than we do today, dominated by that 30% of hardcore "patriots"....I'd rather have people who don't know much in the electorate, instead of those who "know" things that are absolutely false (and racist and xenophobic and all the rest).

      "All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out." --I.F. Stone

      by Alice in Florida on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 05:30:14 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  I found some of this surprising (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Denise Oliver Velez, MichaelNY

    This seems to undercut the notion that the young don't vote because of dissatisfaction with Democrats:

    nonvoters are younger, less educated and more financially stressed than likely voters. Nonvoters are significantly less Republican in their party affiliation than are likely voters, and more supportive of an activist federal government. Despite their more difficult economic circumstances, nonvoters express greater satisfaction with national conditions than do likely voters, and are more likely to approve of Barack Obama's job performance.

    I found this very interesting, too. I wonder if there's something here for GOTV efforts to target or address:
    40 percent of nonvoters are under 30 years old, compared to 29 percent of infrequent voters and 14 percent of frequent voters. Infrequent voters are much more likely to be married than nonvoters, with 50 percent of infrequent voters married compared to only 34 percent of nonvoters. 76% of nonvoters have less than a college degree, compared to 61 percent of infrequent voters and 50 percent of frequent voters. Among nonvoters, 54 percent are white or Caucasian compared to 60 percent of infrequent voters and 70 percent of frequent voters.

    Thank you for your characteristically excellent research.

    "A thing is not necessarily true because a man dies for it." Oscar Wilde

    by scilicet on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 03:28:19 PM PST

  •  I think it is a good question (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    MichaelNY

    I dont know why. My parents moved to have more opportunity and to vote. Looks like someone wants to turn the entire country into Alabama on 1956 or 1856.

    I wish more people voted. We would have fewer problems. I think it is a responsibility of citizenship but people of color have been excluded for so long, whats the point. Plus people are in a basic survivial mode, can't think about print if you are worried about putting food on the table. I get that also. It really bothers me considering that I vote and write some letters, and I think that is the minimum.

    Tipped and reced again if I didn't say it before.

    The radical Republican party is the party of oppression, fear, loathing and above all more money and power for the people who robbed us.

    by a2nite on Mon Nov 14, 2011 at 06:08:38 PM PST

  •  Compulsory OCCUPY (nt) (0+ / 0-)

    "If I can't dance, then I don't want to be in your revolution"--Emma Goldman

    by ehrenfeucht games on Wed Nov 16, 2011 at 04:42:22 AM PST

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