I hear it every year there’s an election: “It’s your civic duty as a citizen to vote.” And every time after the election is finished and I read about the voter turnout, I realized that civic duty was not enough.
If duty alone is not working, we may be left with either negative or positive reinforcement to change the behaviour.
Compulsory voting is enforced in some countries around the world most notably in Australia, Argentina and Brazil. In Australia a citizen can be fined between $20 to $50 for not voting!
A quick look on Wikipedia reveals that the voter turnout in the last national election in Australia was 94%, 82% in Argentina and 80% in Brazil. Compared to 61% in Canada and 58% in the US.
While the high voter turnout in compulsory voting countries is evident, the idea of the government forcing its citizens to vote seems paradoxically anti-democratic since it infringes on the rights and freedoms associated with a democracy.
My Remedy: “Remunerated Voting”.
In a Remunerated Voting democracy citizens would be rewarded for voting. That’s right! Voters would be compensated and recognized for their time and effort to understand and select candidates.
Instead of wasting millions of federal dollars in party propaganda, voters could be rewarded with say $50 for first timers to $100 for frequent voters.
As the proverb goes, "You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar".