President Barack Obama recently called for mandatory voting.
“Other countries have mandatory voting,” President Obama said. “It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”
The Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank for black elected officials, reported that although African Americans out vote whites in federal elections, black turnout in local elections is dismally low, averaging 27% and in some cases less than 10%.
It was not clear if President Obama was discussing federal or local elections.
Pew Charitable Trusts reported that in the 2014 midterm elections in which Republicans captured the U.S. Senate and strengthen their position in the House, the national voter turnout fell below 37%.
“That means nearly 2 in 3 eligible voters, or approximately 144 million American citizens — more than the population of Russia —chose to sit this out,” Pew reported.
Some 26 countries require citizens to vote or they will be fined. In Belgium and Australia, if person doesn’t pay his or her fine, he or she could go to jail, according to the International Institute of Democracy and Electoral Assistance, which supports sustainable democracy throughout the world.
Institute officials added that at one time Venezuela and the Netherlands practiced compulsory voting but have since abolished it. Compulsory voting was introduced in Belgium in 1892, according to the International Institute.