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Forcing the vote

Belief in voting as a duty has withered. The time has come for compulsory turnout

By Ben Rogers   June 2006

Following the battering the government has received in recent weeks, it is no doubt looking for ways to change the subject. The unfinished business of constitutional reform, particularly Lords reform, is one obvious candidate. The local elections of 4th May also point to another policy theme—compulsory turnout. Turnout in the elections was estimated at a dismal 36 per cent—a drop of around 10 per cent from the early 1990s. In some poor inner city wards, less than one in five residents voted.

Why do people vote? This question has always puzzled economists and rational choice theorists, and rightly so. After…

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