Mid-Missouri political experts reflect on potential mandatory vote

3 years 10 months 2 days ago Friday, March 20 2015 Mar 20, 2015 Friday, March 20, 2015 11:54:00 AM CDT March 20, 2015 in News
By: Michael Doudna, KOMU 8 Reporter

COLUMBIA - President Barack Obama backed off comments Friday he said earlier in the week when he mentioned it may be time for mandatory voting in the United States to help counteract the impact of wealthy donors. 

Obama stepped back from those comments after backlash permeated through the country. Obama pointed out that countries such as Australia and Belgium have mandatory voting and the new measure would be "transformative."

Some people have said the comments are politically motivated. Most people say mandatory voting would mainly benefit democrats.

"The people who tend not to vote are young, they're lower income, they're skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minority groups, there's a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls," Obama said Wednesday.

Opponents of mandatory voting claim the measure could backfire by forcing uneducated voters to make decisions, diluting the vote for those who take more time to think through the issue. 

Some have said mandatory voting would radically change the voting landscape in the United States, but according to University of Missouri political science professor James Endersby, the impact would be much less than some might think. 

Mary Ratliff, President of Columbia's NAACP, said it would to be up to programs to help educate viewers on the different issues. 

Possibly the most "transformative" part of mandatory voting turnout would be the mass of people heading to the polls. Nationally, only 37 percent of registered voters went to the polls in the 2014 elections. That number rises to just over 50 precent during presidential elections. 

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