“In Australia, and some other countries, there’s mandatory voting,” Obama said while taking questions at the City Club of Cleveland. “It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything.”
Over the years, a variety of political scientists have mused on the idea of requiring people to vote, citing the consistently poor turnout in U.S. elections. Critics have questioned the practicality of passing and enforcing such a requirement; others say that freedom also means the freedom not to do something.
As Obama noted, however, other countries to do have mandatory voting laws.
In addition to Australia, the Associated Press reported that “at least two dozen countries have some form of compulsory voting, including Belgium, Brazil and Argentina. In many systems, absconders must provide a valid excuse or face a fine, although a few countries have laws on the books that allow for potential imprisonment.”
Getting more people to vote would “completely change the political map in this country,” Obama said.
Also reports the Associated Press:
“Less than 37% of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2014 midterms, according to the United States Election Project. And a Pew Research Center study found that those avoiding the polls in 2014 tended to be younger, poorer, less educated and more racially diverse.”