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September 09 , 2008

Full Participation: A Comparative Study of Compulsory Voting


About a quarter of all democracies today legally oblige their citizens to vote, making this an important aspect of electoral systems in many settings. Moreover, numerous commentators and policy-makers in voluntary voting states are coming to view mandatory attendance at the polls as an attractive option in the context of declining turnout. Yet there has been a dearth of analysis of the way in which compulsory voting shapes attitudes, behaviour and outcomes of the political process. This volume fills that gap by providing a comprehensive description, analysis and evaluation of compulsory voting as it is practiced throughout the world. Specifically, the study systematically examines the history of the institution, the normative arguments for and against it, and the influence it has on a range of political phenomena. These include electoral campaigns, political attitudes, electoral integrity and legitimacy, policy outcomes and turnout. The book also considers the feasibility of introducing compulsory voting in a contemporary democracy, as well as variations on the institution designed to broaden its appeal.

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