Question: “Compulsory voting in elections has to be legally enforced”. Critically analyse.
Answer: Making voting compulsory has been one of the many such demands by civil society. At present the right to vote has been a legal right but there is no such provisions for making it enforceable.
Benefits of compulsory voting
- Increase turnout
Voting percentage in India is very low compared to other similar democracies. This has been attributed to dismissive attitude shown by citizens towards the electoral system. When voting becomes legally enforceable, we can ensure that the results reflect the will of the people.
- Make governance more inclusive
At present only a section of people vote in elections leaving the others out of the governance structure. When people become aware through participation in voting, there can be better way of carrying out governance and administration.
- Stability in government
The low voter turnout has often resulted in fractured mandates that has caused instability in governance. If all the section of people vote then more often then not they can give a decisive mandate.
Drawbacks of compulsory voting
- Legal enforcement
At present there has been no mechanism to enforce compulsory voting. Making such a legislation needs time and effort to ensure that it is fair and acceptable.
- Constitutional violation
If voting is added in fundamental rights then making it punishable will virtually violate the same right. If right to vote is a fundamental right then right to not vote is equally valid. This becomes a legal headache when times comes for enforcement.
- Logistical challenges
To implement a new provision of such a magnitude requires large infrastructure and logistics. A proper mechanism to check the violation, enforce the law and adjudicate justice have to be created.
Instead of legal enforcement, a reward mechanism can be instituted that will give benefits to voters in form of tax rebates or any other monetary benefits.
Thus, in current circumstances, enforcing such a sensitive issue is difficult as well as tiresome. Instead focus has to be given for increasing the voter turnout through persuasion.