Hit & Run | Tim Cavanaugh | Orszag: Compulsory Voting for All!Hrrrrrrrrrr. Talk about begging the question. Voting isn't an end in itself: voting is a method to get good policy. You can't judge the success of a law which dictates voting by counting how many people vote. The goal is better policy. Counting increased turnout as a victory would be like claiming that stomping your foot on the gas pedal is ipso facto a good idea because now the pedal is closer to the floor.
Writing in Bloomberg, Orszag says it's "our own fault" we get such poor results when we vote:
Compulsory voting, as exists in Australia and more than two dozen other countries, would fix that problem. As William Galston of the Brookings Institution argues, “Jury duty is mandatory; why not voting?”Those "more than two dozens other countries," by the way, include such envies of the world as Libya, Argentina, Congo, Lebanon, Egypt and Nauru. (Actually, Nauru seems interesting.)
Mandating voting has a clear effect: It raises participation rates. Before Australia adopted compulsory voting in 1924, for example, it had turnout rates similar to those of the U.S. After voting became mandatory, participation immediately jumped from 59 percent in the election of 1922 to 91 percent in the election of 1925.
This Orszag dude, by the way, was one of the Certified Very Smart People who rode into town with Obama to replace all of Bush's supposed hillbillies and frat boys. If this is the level of logic we get out of the technocratic, "reality-based," pro-science whateverthehellyouwanttocallit people, we're toast. The people I'm told are idiots act like idiots, and the people I'm told are geniuses act like arrogant idiots.
PS For the record, I think not only is compulsory voting is a bad idea, but even the "Rock the Vote" type haranguing is downright immoral. If people aren't already motivated to get themselves to a polling place then they almost certainly aren't motivated to stay informed and make coherent decisions. Encouraging people so unmotivated to exert control over society is irresponsible.