Compulsory elective

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The general compulsory election obliges those entitled to vote to participate in an election , for example to a parliament or to a committee at a university. In elections, voter lists are always kept in order to prevent those who are not eligible to vote or those who are eligible to vote multiple times; these lists can be used to identify who did not vote.

Arguments for compulsory voting

  • A high voter turnout reduces the (potential or actual) influence of party donors .
  • Voting is a democratic duty , comparable to paying taxes , doing military service and including citizens in the judiciary in some states.
  • Voting is a moral duty .
  • Compulsory voting should counteract the lack of interest in politics . It induces citizens to think before an election about which party they want to vote for or which party they consider the least evil. This counteracts populist or extremist parties, which are often elected by a dissatisfied minority .
  • The compulsory vote should prevent too small a proportion of the population influencing an election result. With a turnout of 43.3%, for example, as in the European elections in Germany in 2009 , 21.7% of all eligible voters already have an absolute majority.
  • A compulsory vote with the help of an “abstention field” on the ballot could help to show more precisely how many voters actually cast a protest vote against all available parties. The proposal of compulsory voting in combination with an “abstention field” was made in 2013 by activists Herr und Speer .

Arguments against compulsory voting

  • Some citizens feel patronized by compulsory voting. Some libertarians describe compulsory voting as an encroachment on their personal freedom and as a violation of personal rights . The decision to vote should be left to free individuals.
  • In a secret ballot, nobody can be forced to cast a vote. Everyone is free to submit an empty or invalid ballot paper.
  • Some citizens have no preference for any of the election parties or candidates. These voters would vote at random (just to do their duty) or cast a blank ballot paper. In the English-speaking world, such votes are referred to as donkey votes .
  • A low turnout can be interpreted as an indication of widespread displeasure with the political leadership of a state. A low turnout could be a signal to this elite; Such a signal is not possible with compulsory voting.
  • In the event that voting is compulsory, the election campaign could target more indecisive than politically interested voters.
  • The religious community of Jehovah's Witnesses interprets Jn 17:16  ELB as an invitation to be politically neutral. It advises its members not to take part in political activities such as demonstrations, elections or revolutions. Some Jehovah's Witnesses consider it a religious imperative not to vote.

States with compulsory voting

In the following states there is a compulsory vote in parliamentary elections, which results in sanctions if violated:

country Penalty for not voting
EgyptEgypt Egypt Fine, imprisonment possible
AustraliaAustralia Australia 20  AUD the first time, repeated absenteeism may result in prison sentences
BoliviaBolivia Bolivia A fine of 150  Bolivianos , immediate withdrawal of ID cards and blocking of bank accounts are possible
BrazilBrazil Brazil An accepted justification is sufficient to avoid the election without further consequences.

Otherwise, a small fine has to be paid to regularize his electoral status. If the electoral status is not corrected, important documents cannot be applied for, which means that it is not possible to search for a job, open an account or obtain a passport. Anyone who has not voted three times in a row loses the right to vote (título eleitoral) until regularization.

EcuadorEcuador Ecuador Fine
FijiFiji Fiji Fine, imprisonment possible
IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia compulsory for Muslims ( Harām )
LebanonLebanon Lebanon (only mandatory for men)
LibyaLibya Libya (only mandatory for men)
LiechtensteinLiechtenstein Liechtenstein Fine (unenforced)
NauruNauru Nauru Fine
Korea NorthNorth Korea North Korea
PeruPeru Peru Fine of approx. 40 euros
SwitzerlandSwitzerland SwitzerlandCanton of Schaffhausen Fine of six Swiss francs
TurkeyTurkey Turkey Fine was canceled
UruguayUruguay Uruguay Fine

There is a formal compulsory vote for parliamentary elections in the following countries, but disregard will not be penalized:

country Remarks
ArgentinaArgentina Argentina between the ages of 18 and 70 years old elective is compulsory; if you are absent from your place of residence more than 500 km, there is no compulsory voting; Non-voter sanctions are rarely applied.
BelgiumBelgium Belgium Fine that is increased if the election is repeatedly absent. In practice, no more penalties have been imposed since 2003. In rare cases it is also possible to delete it from the electoral roll.
Costa RicaCosta Rica Costa Rica
El SalvadorEl Salvador El Salvador
GuatemalaGuatemala Guatemala Military personnel are not allowed to vote.
GreeceGreece Greece Non-election sanctions were abolished in 2001, but compulsory voting is still anchored in the constitution
HondurasHonduras Honduras
IndiaIndia India
ItalyItaly Italy Compulsory voting according to Art. 48 of the Constitution of the Italian Republic , non-participation (as of 2008) no longer has any practical consequences.
LuxembourgLuxembourg Luxembourg Fine (100–250 €), for repeat offenders 500-1,000 €, except for citizens over 75 years of age. In practice, no more penalties have been imposed since 1964.
MexicoMexico Mexico
New ZealandNew Zealand New Zealand Entry in the electoral roll is mandatory, the election itself is not.
ParaguayParaguay Paraguay Fine (mandatory for citizens between the ages of 18 and 75, optional from the age of 75)
SingaporeSingapore Singapore Non-voters are removed from the electoral roll and only added again upon request. If you do not provide a “valid reason” (such as stay abroad or illness) why you did not choose, a fee of $ 50 will be due (equivalent to around € 30 in December 2017).
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela


Compulsory voting in Austria

In Austria between 1929 and 1982 there was compulsory voting in the election of the Federal President (cf. Art. 60/1 B-VG ). Since then, it has only existed in those federal states in which a state law stipulates mandatory voting. In Carinthia and Styria , these laws were repealed in 1993. In its session on January 28, 2004, the Vorarlberg state parliament lifted the compulsory vote in federal presidential and regional elections . This law was in effect in Upper Austria until 1982. In June 2004, the Tyrolean state parliament followed the decision of the Vorarlberg state parliament . With the electoral reform that came into effect on July 1, 2007, this constitutional provision was abolished, thus abolishing compulsory voting in elections to the Federal President. Currently (2017) there is no compulsory voting in Austrian state elections.

From 1949 to 1992, voting was also compulsory in the National Council elections (Art. 26/1 B-VG) in those federal states that had introduced this through state laws. Corresponding state laws have been passed in Styria, Tyrol and Vorarlberg. In 1986 Carinthia also enacted this. In 1992 this constitutional provision was repealed, thus abolishing compulsory voting in National Council elections.

Historically, compulsory voting is based on the fear of the Christian Social Party (CSP) about women's suffrage , which was introduced in 1918 . The CSP wanted to avoid that conservative women do not exercise their rights and that social democratic women exercising the right to vote would change the majority.

Elective in Australia

In Australia , the introduction of compulsory voting goes back to the high number of dead during the First World War . After over 60,000 Australians had died in the war , voices were raised that Australians had an obligation to exercise the freedom they had won at such a high price. In the parliamentary elections in 1955, the turnout was around 88%, since then it has always been over 90%. In the 2007 Senate election , 4.83% of those eligible to vote stayed away from the polls, and another 2.55% cast invalid votes.

States that have abolished compulsory voting


Web links

Individual evidence

  1. Vincent-Immanuel Herr, Martin Speer: Democracy: Whoever does not want to vote should pay . In: The time . August 25, 2013, ISSN  0044-2070 ( [accessed April 21, 2017]).
  2. ^ Australian Electoral Commission (PDF), accessed April 30, 2010.
  3. a b Examples of countries ( memento of the original from September 15, 2008 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice., accessed April 30, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  4. Timothy J. Power: Compulsory for Whom? Mandatory Voting and Electoral Participation in Brazil, 1986-2006 . In: Journal of Politics in Latin America , 1/2009, pp. 97-122.
  5. O que acontece se eu nicht votar? ( Memento of the original from October 6, 2010 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link was inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Tribunal Regional Eleitoral; Retrieved October 4, 2010. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  6. Indonesia Issues "Hindu" Yoga Ban for Muslims .  ( Page no longer available , search in web archivesInfo: The link was automatically marked as defective. Please check the link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. Hinduism Today, accessed April 30, 2010.@1@ 2Template: Dead Link /  
  7. 100 percent for the highest leader ( memento of March 13, 2014 in the Internet Archive ), , March 10, 2014
  8. Schaffhauser Rechtsbuch, SHR 160.100 : Act on the votes and elections to be made by the people and on the exercise of popular rights (electoral law) of March 15, 1904, Art. 9.
  9. The “voice miracle” at the Rhine Falls ., November 28, 2006.
  11. Patrizia Robbe: compulsory voting . (PDF). In: German Bundestag, Scientific Services , No. 61/09 (July 16, 2009).
  12. Is compulsory voting a sign of political immaturity? In: Daily Telegraph .
  13. ^ Dorothée de Nève: Non-voters - a threat to democracy? (Dissertation). Budrich 2009, ISBN 978-3-86649-210-3 , p. 23, online .
  14. FAQ of the Singaporean Electoral Commission ( Memento of the original from December 22, 2017 in the Internet Archive ) Info: The archive link has been inserted automatically and has not yet been checked. Please check the original and archive link according to the instructions and then remove this notice. , accessed December 19, 2017. @1@ 2Template: Webachiv / IABot /
  15. Art. 60 B-VG as of December 19, 1945 .
  16. ^ Republic of Austria: State elections. In: Retrieved January 10, 2017 .
  17. Law of November 12, 1918 on the state and form of government of German Austria in the State Law Gazette in retro-digitized form at ALEX - Historical legal and legal texts online .
  19. ^ Australian Electoral Commission: Turnout By State. Retrieved February 26, 2020 .
  20. ^ Australian Electoral Commission
  21. Information about the book .