A quip by an American dignitary "down under" has ignited discussion about complusory voting.
Last week, the U.S. Ambassador to Australia, Jeff Bleich, told a group of reporters he thinks complusory voting could be a positive thing for the United States.
Under terms of complusory voting, eligible voters who fail to cast ballots can be fined or even face jail time. Australia observes complusory voting laws.
Assistant Professor Tyler Johnson at the University of Oklahoma Political Science Department told KTOK, he doesn't think such laws would fly in the United States.
"I guess a lot of people are voting there because they have to, not beacuse they want to. We have this tradition here where you can vote for someone or some party. Or, you can make the choice not to vote, to make that statement," Johnson said.
He said the only time we really hear talk of complusory voting in America is when people are discussing ways of increasing voter turn-out.
"You see this idea batted around every so often, but I've never seen it taken seriously by any legislator," Johnson said.
In a November 7th article in the newspaper The Australian, U.S. Amabassador to Australia Jeff Bleich is quoted as telling the National Press Club in Canberra he was attracted to the concept of complusory voting. "It forces politicians to speak to everyone collectively about their common values as opposed to trying to motivate one group," the article states. "How you get there, what the proper means is, I think ultimately the people in the United States have to find for themselves."
Currently, 23 nations and city-states have compulsory voting, and 10 enforce it. They include: Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Luxembourg, Peru and Singapore.
(Jeff Bleich, U.S. Ambassador to Australia.)