Should voting be mandatory punishable by a fine? 

Should voting be mandatory punishable by a fine?

Compulsory voting is a system in which electors are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. If an eligible voter does not attend a polling place, he or she may be subject to punitive measures such as fines or community service. As of August 2013, 22 countries have laws for compulsory voting and 11 of these 22 countries enforce these laws in practice.[1]


These are the 13 countries that enforce compulsory voting:

  • Argentina – Introduced in 1912.[18] Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old, non-compulsory for those older than 70 and between 16 and 18. (However, in primaries, citizens under 70 may refuse to vote, if they formally express their decision to the electoral authorities, at least 48 hours before the election. This is valid only for the subsequent primary, and needs to be repeated each time the voter wishes not to participate.)
  • Australia – Introduced in 1924.[18] Compulsory for federal and state elections for citizens aged 18 and above. The requirement is for the person to enroll, attend a polling station and have their name marked off the electoral roll as attending, receive a ballot paper and take it to an individual voting booth, mark it, fold the ballot paper and place it in the ballot box. The act does not explicitly state that a choice must be made, it only states that the ballot paper be 'marked'. According to the act how a person marks the paper is completely up to the individual. In some states, local council elections are also compulsory.[19] At the 2010 Tasmanian state election, with a turnout of 335,353 voters, about 6,000 people were fined $26 for not voting, and about 2,000 paid the fine.[20]
  • Brazil [21] – Compulsory for literate citizens between 18 and 70 years old. Non-compulsory for Brazilians aged 16–17 or over 70 or illiterate citizens of any age. A justification form for not voting can be filled at election centers and post offices.
  • Cyprus - Introduced in 1960.[18]
  • Ecuador – Introduced in 1936.[18] Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 65 years old; non-compulsory for citizens aged 16–18, illiterate people, and those older than 65.
  • Indian state Gujarat passed a bill by legislative assembly in 2009 and later again in 2011 with some modifications, which was approved by the Governor of Gujarat in November 2014, making voting compulsory in local civic body elections and a punishment for not voting.[22] The Government of Gujarat chose not to notify the law or enforce it initially, citing legal implications and difficulty in enforcement.[23] But later in June 2015, the government decided to notify and enforce the law.[24]
  • Liechtenstein
  • Luxembourg - Voluntary for those aged over 70.
  • Malaysia -
  • North Korea - Everyone over age 17 is required to vote. However, only one candidate appears on the ballot. Voting is designed to track who is and isn't in the country. Dissenting votes are possible but lead to repercussions for voters.[25]
  • Nauru - Introduced in 1965.[18]
  • Peru [26] – Introduced in 1933.[18] Compulsory for citizens between 18 and 70 years old, non-compulsory for those older than 70.
  • Singapore – Compulsory for citizens above 21 years old as of the date of the last electoral roll revision
  • Uruguay - Introduced in 1934, but not put into practice until 1970.[18]
  • Schaffhausen canton in Switzerland has compulsory voting - Introduced to Switzerland in 1904, but abolished in all other cantons by 1974.[18]

Not enforced

Countries that have compulsory voting on the law books but do not enforce it: