Compulsory Voting: Residual Problems and Potential Solutions
Author: Hill L.
Source: Australian Journal of Political Science, Volume 37, Number 3, 1 November 2002 , pp. 437-455(19)
Abstract:The state-enforced compulsion to vote can be defended as a reasonable imposition on individual autonomy. This article moves on from this position to examine a number of residual problems with Australia's compulsory voting arrangements. While maintaining a commitment to the compulsory voting system, I suggest that, in order to protect the reputation of the practice and preserve the norm of universal participation, some reforms may be necessary. While the argument that it is reasonable to compel people to vote accepts that the state can legitimately penalise avoidance, I have doubts about the propriety of some current and past practices, specifically those relating to the legal consequences of avoidance and the public promotion of avoidance. One recommendation allows genuine 'conscientious objectors' to apply for exemption provided they meet a number of conditions. I also make suggestions that address the complaint that compulsion limits democratic choice.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2002-11-01