During a town hall event in Cleveland, President Obama endorsed implementing mandatory voting in the United States. The Democrats suffered a big defeat in 2014’s midterm elections because of weak voter turnout.
Obama mentioned mandatory voting in his response to a question about the influence of campaign donations. He said, “It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract [campaign] money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country.”
Obama admitted to never having discussed the idea before. However, he did know that numerous countries, including Australia, have mandatory voting laws. Twenty-two countries currently have laws requiring citizens to vote, but only 11 enforce the law with penalties.
Obama added that mandatory voting “may end up being a better strategy in the short term” than fixing the problem with current campaign donations.
The President also voiced his unhappiness with Democratic voters who do not vote in midterm elections. Republicans took back the Senate and increased their lead in the House of Representatives during the last midterm election.
He described the problem, “The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily towards immigrant groups and minority groups.”
"And they’re the folks who are scratching and climbing to get into the middle class and they’re working hard," Obama continued. "There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls. We should want to get them into the polls.”
In 2012, about 58 percent of eligible voters cast their ballots. During the 2014 midterm elections, only 36 percent voted. This was the lowest percent of eligible voters in more than sixty years.
Photo Source: Youtube, kristin_a/Flickr