Working Paper
Is Compulsory Voting a Good Idea? The Consequences of Compulsory Voting in Belgium.

Democracy is not possible without the participation of citizens in politics. In order to make democracy work, citizens have to choose at least their representatives in free regularly held elections. At present, however, fewer and fewer citizens turn out to vote and in addition the citizens who decide to vote are by no means a representative sample of the voting age population. This is problematical for any society which calls itself democratic. Especially in the United States turnout is low and biased. To tackle this problem, some authors argue to make voting mandatory for the United States citizens. These authors claim that compulsory voting increases and equalises voter participation. This article will explore the usefulness of compulsory voting as a solution for low and biased turnout using the Belgian case. We found that the voter participation is indeed much higher and less biased in Belgium than in the United States on account of the system of compulsory voting.