Mandatory Voting: 'Absurd, Cynical, Repugnant'
Jonah Goldberg weighs in; plus, Sasha Issenberg's idea
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 26, 2012 12:46 PM CDT
A sticker is stuck on a Washington, DC resident's jacket after he cast his votes at a polling place in Washington, DC on April 3, 2012.   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – To say that Jonah Goldberg disagrees with Peter Orszag—who recently called for compulsory voting—is a bit of an understatement: In the Los Angeles Times, Goldberg calls the idea of mandatory voting "absurd, cynical, and repugnant." The fact that Orszag and other Democrats are pushing for it is a "sure sign" their side is losing, but "coerced voting" will only bring in "an influx of large numbers of stupid voters," lured by the possibility of winning some cash, Goldberg writes. "Do we really think democracy will be improved by enlisting the opinions of Americans who otherwise wouldn't bother if there wasn't a jackpot in the offing?"

What we should actually be doing, Goldberg suggests, is making voting more difficult. "Scarcity creates value," he writes. "If you want people to value their vote, we should make it more valuable," say by requiring voters to pass a citizenship test. But in the Atlantic, Sasha Issenberg also wants to increase voter turnout—by "introducing shame into the calculus of citizenship." In Issenberg's opinion, turnout started falling when voting became private, and eliminating the secret ballot could reverse that trend. "The most effective tool for turning nonvoters into voters … is a threat to send neighbors evidence of one’s apathy," he writes. Full column here; Goldberg's is here.

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