Compulsory Voting Bill

The Lok Sabha discussed and deliberated upon a private member’s bill on the need for compulsory voting in India. The legislators on both sides of the aisle support have deliberated on the bill. The support for the bill is on both sides of the government but so is the opposition.

What is Compulsory voting?

Compulsory voting is the use of laws to force every eligible citizen to cast their vote (i.e. exercise their franchise) in an election. The laws may also force some penalties on the people who default on voting.

What is the current situation?

  • In a report on electoral reforms released by the Law Commission in March 2015, it had opposed the idea of compulsory voting.
  • The main contention of the commission was that compulsory voting is not practical to implement.
  • Even the voter turnout in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls was 66.11%.
  • It was 1.16% higher than the 65.95% turnout in 2014 General Elections and has been the most recorded turnout in any Indian general election till date.

What happens globally?

In Australia, voting is mandatory and the penalty for its violation may include an explanation for not voting and a fine.? This has consistently ensured a voting turnout of above 90%. Similar provisions also exist in South America countries including Brazil, Argentina and Bolivia also have a provision for compulsory voting. Most other democracies like the UK, USA, Germany, Italy and France have a system of voluntary voting.

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