Picking a president is one of the most important responsibilities a U.S. citizen can have. But if the past is any guide, tens of millions of Americans won’t be voting this fall. In the 2016 presidential election, only 59 percent of eligible voters cast ballots. Turnout for the 2018 midterm elections was even lower—about 49 percent. That was the highest eligible-voter turnout for midterms since 1914.
Still, having so few eligible voters participate in elections is a major problem, experts say. After all, voting is one of the main ways citizens can voice their approval—or disapproval—of elected officials.
That’s why many people say the U.S. should follow the lead of more than 20 countries—including Australia, Peru, and Singapore—and make voting mandatory. Doing so would ensure that more Americans’ voices are heard, supporters say.
But many other people argue that while voting is important, Americans should vote because they want to—not because they have to. Instead of making voting mandatory, they argue, the U.S. should focus on making it easier for people to vote in the first place and on helping them understand why voting matters.
Should voting be mandatory in the U.S.? Two experts weigh in.