Mandatory voting is a terrible idea
President Obama recently suggested that voting become compulsory in the United States, as it is in Australia - where non-voters get fined. He asserts that such a requirement would counteract the influence of money in the election.
Setting aside the fact that in the United States, a constitutional amendment would be necessary to impose such a requirement, the idea is terrible for other reasons.
First, we are not convinced that the influence of money would be diminished if everyone who is eligible votes. A smaller percentage of the electorate would actually meet the candidates, read the candidates'views in newspapers or see the candidates on news programs, so paid advertising would play an even larger role in forming the electorate's view of the candidates.
The ads might need to be scarier or more humorous to penetrate the apathy of those who vote only because they are forced to do so.
Secondly, other factors besides the competency and positions of candidates would take on larger roles - who is the most physically attractive, who is the most ethnically similar to the voters, and whose name doesn't sound funny?
People have a right to not vote and those who are ignorant of the qualifications of candidates and the issues facing them would be doing the country a service by not voting.