compulsory voting

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Law in force in Australia and Belgium, and in some other regimes in the past, which stipulates that it is compulsory to vote and lays down penalties for failing to vote. The main effects in Australia are thought to be: (1) slightly greater support for parties of the left than there would otherwise be, because in a typical election their supporters are less strongly motivated to vote; (2) the ‘donkey vote’, in which resentful or uninterested voters simply vote for the first few names on the list presented to them. Until elaborate procedures for randomizing names on the ballot paper and rotating their order were devised, this gave a significant advantage to parties which could find candidates with names early in the alphabet.

Subjects: Politics.

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