Last month President Obama floated an interesting notion when he brought up the idea of making voting mandatory - with failure to vote resulting in a fine of some sort. Mandatory voting is in effect in a couple of dozen countries worldwide with varying degrees of success and acceptance.
The impetus for the idea of mandatory voting is that it would diminish the effects of big money in the election process. The emphasis would shift away from identifying certain segments of the population likely to vote for certain candidates and positions, and instead shift (presumably) to focusing on the message.
Republicans seem to have three primary concerns with the concept. First, they automatically reject anything put forth by this President. Second, they seem to fear that the result will be an increase in rabble at the polls - Democratic rabble instead of their own tea-party rabble. And third, it would be a major and perhaps insurmountable shift away from their long-standing policy of fostering schemes to keep people from voting.
Some Democrats, myself included, have noticed that the poor and downtrodden sometimes have a tendency to vote against their own self-interest, so there are concerns from Camp Blue regarding this fundamental shift in the voting process as well.
Still there ought to be some way to shake up the public and get them involved in their own governance. A country where only half (or sometime less) of the eligible voters go to the polls is something short of a democracy. As democracy fades we wind up with a growing pool of public servants who are in politics for power and personal gain rather than serving the public. Sometimes it even devolves into little more than a poorly run family business.
While forced voting would increase the number of people casting ballots, and might or might not improve the quality of the officials we elect, it would have the benefit of giving more of us ownership in what our votes create. That would be an improvement of sorts.
One thing is certain, we need to do something. President Obama was right about that.