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oh dear: Hoon calls for compulsory voting

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    oh dear: Hoon calls for compulsory voting

    Hoon calls for compulsory voting

    Patrick Wintour, chief political correspondent
    Monday July 4, 2005
    The Guardian

    Voting should be compulsory in Britain as a way of ending political alienation, restoring community and addressing the dangerous issue of "serial non-voters", Geoff Hoon will say today.

    In a speech that is likely to prompt a widespread debate, the leader of the Commons will also support progress towards text voting in general elections.

    Mr Hoon is the first cabinet minister to back enforced attendance at the polling booth as the government continues to debate the causes of Britain's low turnout, especially among younger voters. He will stress he is expressing personal views and is aware some will attack him saying it is the fault of politicians if voters cannot be bothered to vote.

    He suggests non-voters should either be fined or alternatively voters should be given a small incentive such as a council tax discount for turing up at the polling booth.

    He argues that voters should be entitled to spoil their ballot paper, so long as they attend the polling station, or if voting becomes electronic at least register their decision not to vote.

    Mr Hoon is known to have support from other cabinet ministers including Peter Hain, as well as the former education minister Stephen Twigg, who lost his seat at the last election.

    Mr Hoon will argue that "international experience points to compulsory voting being the most effective way to increase turnout". It is "the most obvious way to bring those who feel alienated into the political process and the best means to enhance civic participation". It would also "bring back the sense that we can all work together".

    Since becoming leader of the house, Mr Hoon has tried to prompt a debate about political alienation. He claims "any penalties should be modest and rather like the introduction of seatbelt legislation, would only require one or two cases to be brought to encourage everyone to participate".

    Turnout in the May general election was 61.5%, slightly up on the 59% figure in 2001, but down on the 78% turnout in 1992 and well below the turnouts, often over and above 75%, seen in the period after the second world war.

    Mr Hoon said: "My fear is that as the older, more regular voters die, we will be left with a significant number of people for whom voting is neither a habit, nor a duty.

    "The turnout in our general election was below the 77% turnout in Afghanistan and not much higher than the 58% turnout recently in Iraq - where men and women queued in their thousands - risking their lives in defiance of fanatical terrorists - to cast a vote for their future."

    Australia and Belgium have compulsory voting. Australians have been legally obliged to cast their vote since 1924 and are fined between A$20 and A$50 for failure to turn up.

    Voting is mandatory for all Belgians who are 18 and above. Non-voters risk having their name removed from the electoral roll for 10 years. Elections in Belgium regularly yield a 90% turnout.


    What a lot of communist style b0llox >:

    Do you think there is any chance of that happening here?

    Do you think there is any chance of that happening here?
    Not really. In most future elections we will simply ask the Birmingham Labour Party who won. A couple of weeks before the election, of course - that would save the bother of anyone having to vote.



      > "The turnout in our general election was below the 77% turnout
      > in Afghanistan and not much higher than the 58% turnout recently in Iraq

      Hoon t should look at some countries where turnout was 100% with most of people voting for whoever is local dictator is.

      IMO Hoon should have STFU and beg forgiveness from those families of British servicemen who were killed in Iraq as the result of poor supplies of things like body armour.


        Who listens to Geoff Hoon?


          How does compulsory voting end "political alienation". Surely forcing me to do something that I don't want to do creates alienation, not remove it?



            I think geoff hoon has a keyboard in his back and people just type in what they want him to say.

            Maybe they should examine the reasons why nobody votes, instead of wagging their finger at the electorate.

            If people stop voting its becuase nobody sees any need to vote anymore, which would be considered a failure in the democratic process. Thats the fault of the government not the electorate.


              I could accept compulsory voting on condition that all ballot papers carry a "Re Open Nominations" option.
              If RON wins then the previous candidates are disqualified from running.


                I'm all for it - they do it in Australia and it works there. Don't vote then pay a fine, don't want to vote then go along and spoil your paper. In an ideal world, if we could ensure it was secure, you should be able to vote on the net, just to make it that bit easier.

                Stops cases like the US where a well organised minority (Christian right) have hugely dispropotional influence on national politics.


                  If they ever did introduce it I suspect some egos would be pricked - lots of those who don't vote have a positive aversion to the slimeballs - sure some votes would materialise from those missing but there'd be a lot of spoiled papers.

                  I currently vote in general elections only - I'd spoil all my papers if they made it compulsory.


                    I would have no problem with it as long as the last option on the card was "None of the above" and if that option was picked by the majority they had to keep redoing the election till someone came along that a majority actually felt worth voteing for.

                    Especially if it gave us a little box to say why

                    "Because they are all unprincipled lieing two faced gits"