Participation in national elections is considered a fundamental right of citizenship by democracies across the globe.
In fact, some governments believe in this principle so strongly that they have made voting compulsory. Supporters of the concept view compulsory participation in elections as a duty of the citizen akin to taxation, jury duty or compulsory military service. It also results in a higher turnout.
Belgium, Turkey and Australia have made voting compulsory and turnout was 87.2, 86.4 and 80.5 percent respectively in the most recent national elections. By contrast, turnout at the 2012 U.S. presidential election was 53.6 percent. According to the following map using data compiled by the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, 85 percent of the world’s countries have no compulsory voting while 13 percent do. There are also numerous arguments against compulsory voting. One prominent one is that it violates freedom of speech because the freedom to speak necessarily includes the freedom not to speak.
This map shows countries with compulsory voting, no compulsory voting and no elections.
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