Public Reason: Vol. 1, No. 1, February 2009
Is Compulsory Voting Justified?
Annabelle Lever

Should voting be compulsory? Many people believe that it should, and that countries, like Britain, which have never had compulsion, ought to adopt it. As is common with such things, the arguments are a mixture of principle and political calculation, reflecting the idea that compulsory voting is morally right and that it is likely to prove politically beneficial. This article casts a sceptical eye on both types of argument. It shows that compulsory voting is generally unjustified although there are good reasons to worry about declining voter turnout in established democracies, and to worry about inequalities of turnout as well.

Key words: democracy, voting, equality, liberty, duties, rights.


Lever, Annabelle. 2009. Is Compulsory Voting Justified?. Public Reason 1 (1): 57-74.