The Issue Of Compulsory Voting

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In 2001, Gareth Thomas, a Labour MP for Harrow West for the past 18 years introduced a Private Members’ Bill for compulsory voting. However it did not progress beyond its first reading. Yet the question has not died out and whether the UK should follow the likes of Australia and Belgium still remains a hotly debated issue.

The UK prides itself in being a leading force for democracy worldwide. It is thought to have become truly democratic in 1918 with the passing of the Representation of the Peoples Act whereby universal suffrage was cemented in statute law. In the election afterwards in 1922, participation soared to over 70%, and peaked in 1950 at 83.9%. Since then, the argument for compulsory voting has arisen partly due to turnout falling so dramatically to below 60% in 2001, and failing to improve significantly, lying at 61.4% in 2010. These statistics have been a major cause for prompting discussion about compulsory voting, as it is argued that the UK cannot be democratic without high turnout. With these falling turnout rates, I decided to visit 3 local constituencies and explore the reasons why people do not vote through conducting a questionnaire. With over 200 people undertaking this questionnaire, and 89 of these 207 saying they did not vote, my results held some authority. Around a third of those who claimed not to vote said they did not due to being disillusioned with the party system. However, the largest proportion at 54% of those questioned stated that

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