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Leadnow | August 22, 2016

Pros and Cons of Mandatory Voting

To prepare for our presentation to the voting reform committee on August 30th, we asked our community what they thought about online voting, mandatory voting and lowering the voting age. Here are the pros and cons of mandatory voting that we provided in the survey.

Arguments for mandatory voting

  • Voting is a civic duty and should be enforced

  • Can improve representation of marginalized populations who are historically less likely to vote and who have less access to the political process

  • Increases turnout which could mean that more people’s views will be better represented in government

  • Parties and electoral agencies don’t have to spend money and time to get people to vote, and can focus on talking about the issues.

  • It may lead to improved awareness of issues and the political process among the general population

Arguments against mandatory voting

  • Voting is a right, not a duty. People should have the option to refuse to participate in the system if they choose.

  • It would not guarantee increased awareness or education of the issues, and it could make politicians and parties lazier. We should be encouraging parties to work harder at voter education and engagement to get people to the polls, rather than forcing people to vote

  • Doesn’t address core reasons why people don’t vote

  • It may result in more spoiled ballots or randomly selected votes, so wouldn’t necessarily improve representation of views


  1. IDEA 2016. Compulsory Voting. (International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance):

  2. Barnes, Andre, Dara Lithwick, & Erin Virgint, 2016. Electoral Systems and Electoral Reform in Canada and Elsewhere: An Overview. (Library of Parliament).

  3. Beck, Katie, 2013. Australia election: Why is voting compulsory? (BBC):

  4. MacLeod, Peter and Lyndsay Poaps, 2016. Is mandatory voting coming to Canada? Let's hope not. (The Star):