Categorized | Editorial, Local Perspectives

EDITORIAL: For Better or For Worse???????

VoteI happened to be listening to the John Catsimatidis Radio Show which aired Sunday Morning (4/19/15). For those who are unfamiliar with John Catsimatidis, he was one of the New York Mayoral Candidates in 2014.

There was a gentleman that John interviewed by the name of Nick Adams. Mr. Adams is from Australia. What he said made my ears perk up. He loves the United States and is working towards becoming an American Citizen. He was elected to his town City Council as a teenager and eventually became Deputy Mayor. According to his bio: Nick Adams is an educator and professional speaker. He holds an undergraduate and post-graduate degrees from the University of Sydney, Australia. At the age of 19 he was elected to his first public office, and he became the youngest ever Deputy Mayor in Australian history at age 21. He is also a survivor of childhood cancer. He was given a 5% chance of survival at age 16 months.

Adams book, The American Boomerang: How the World’s Greatest Turnaround Nation Will Do it Again speaks on American Exceptionalism – how we’re losing it – and how we can come back. He also authored a book: America: The Greatest Good.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to show those who take it for granted living in America just how great a country we are, even though we have our share of warts and faults.

The most astounding part of that interview is when Mr. Adams said, “It is mandatory that anyone of voting age has to vote in the elections. This is mandatory!”

Of course, I had to Google this to make sure this is factual. Of course, this is where he lives and he should know.

What I found out was absolutely astounding, but maybe this is the way to go.

This is what I found out about Australia’s mandatory voting rule called Compulsory Voting. On the Australian Government Website it stated that the argument for compulsory voting is that voting is a civic duty such as serving on a jury.

You can have a hearing to dispute your reason for not voting. It is at the discretion of the judge hearing your case as to whether your excuse is legitimate or not. You can be fined up to $170 or do community service if your excuse is not valid. There is a list of exclusions for not being able to vote. Our suggestion is to look it up.  The information can be found at http://www.aec.gov.au/voting/Compulsory_Voting.htm

Our research indicated that out of 31 Countries with compulsory voting only 12 actually enforce it.

Here are some examples of consequences for nonvoters in countries that have compulsory voting:

In Bolivia, if a voter fails to take part in polls, he or she is denied withdrawal of the salary from the bank for three months.

In Peru and Greece, government privileges (like obtaining new passport or driver’s license) are denied to those failing to vote.

In Tunisia, all should vote except for the police and military, people with mental disorders, the ones who have served more than three months in prison on criminal charges and those who have been given a suspended sentence of more than six months.

Belgium has the oldest existing compulsory voting system, introduced in 1892 for men, and 1949 for women. People who do not vote face a moderate fine or, if they fail to vote in at least four elections, they can lose the right to vote for 10 years. Non-voters also face difficulties getting a job in the public sector.

In some countries you are exempt from voting if you are over 70 years old.

In Brazil, a person who fails to vote is barred from obtaining a passport until after he or she has voted in the two most recent elections. Military and Security personnel in Brazil do not vote by law, as is the case in the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Kuwait and Lebanon.

How many men and women died so Americans have the right to vote and so few people exercise that right.  Should voting be viewed as a civic duty instead of a privilege?

It would be an interesting experiment to require people to vote. Maybe the states should decide individually if they want to make voting mandatory. It might be worth trying for a specific time frame such as 10 years. The decision can always be reversed as it has been done in other countries.

Would more people become politically aware and more civic-minded? It wouldn’t hurt anyone to come to the polls or at least vote by mail. There are some people who wouldn’t care and just vote without knowledge just to escape being fined. Hopefully others would take voting more seriously, especially the youth.

Some of these consequences for not voting which are given in other countries are rather harsh. If America tries compulsory voting, the consequences for not voting should be some community service or a reasonable fine or something along that line.

Let’s hear it from you. What do you think? We’d love to hear from you!

C.M. & K.M.

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