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Links relating to Compulsory Voting in democratic elections (Mainly concentrating on Australia and Compulsory Voting)

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Lachlan's caveate

(Before waffling on: Links to Compulsory Voting in Belgium; and non-Australian Compulsory Voting web resources follow the Australia ones)

  • Some or all of the following might be misleading. Take special heed with respect to the "supposed" ease of avoiding compulsory registration to vote in Australia. e.g.:

    • "Compulsory voting: a useful target for anti-state action?" (actually a very good article to read - despite the following opinion being masked as fact)
    • "In Australia, it is relatively easy to avoid the compulsory registration. In moving to a new address in a different electoral district, for example, it is simple to fail to register, by neglect or by choice, in the new district. Few of the officials looking after the rolls vigilantly seek out the unregistered."

    The above is a totally unwarranted slur on the Australian Electoral Commission - possibly by someone who perhaps has never actually tried to avoid registering to vote in Australia.

    In two out of two cases when I was too lazy to get off my behind and register/re-register to vote (by moving to different accommodation in a new electorate), the Australian Electoral Commission hunted me down "like a dog" (no doubt from the address information in the income tax forms?).

    (from memory its the fifth warning letter from the Australian Electoral Commission that threatens legal action if you do not register to vote).

Be wary of groups promoting anti-compulsory voting agendas

Also (just an opinion): be wary of anyone saying that compulsory voting in elections is a bad thing; and equally wary of the various arguments that are used against compulsory voting.

If compulsory voting was part of the Australia democratic electoral process, it is highly probable (to almost certain) that Australian democratic elections would quickly deteriorate to the state of the United States electoral process : (less then 40% turnouts of eligible voters in US state-wide elections for almost the last two decades).

(At the bottom of this webpage is a web reference and table of "Trends in turnout (eligible and registered electorate) in US state-wide elections 1962-1998")

Academic Articles on Compulsary Voting

  • Compulsory Voting Laws and Turnout: Efficacy and Appropriateness by Dr. Lisa Hill and Jonathon Louth

    • This paper addresses some residual misunderstandings about the effects of compulsory voting and, in particular, the effectiveness of compulsory voting laws as a mechanism to stimulate voting turnout. It also compares its efficacy with alternative turnout-raising mechanisms.

      Some critics of compulsory voting refer to the minimal percentage difference of voter turnout between compulsory and voluntary voting electoral systems. We address studies in which the effectiveness of compulsory voting is either underplayed or miscalculated due to an inappropriate use of atypical cases or a methodological error known as the ‘ecological fallacy’. Specifically, treating all compulsory voting regimes as a synthetic group can give rise to inaccurate perceptions of the performance of individual regimes like Australia’s.

      After canvassing a number of alternatives methods for raising turnout we suggest that, provided the setting is congenial, and provided it is accompanied by appropriate levels of enforcement and institutional support, compulsory voting is the only institutional mechanism that is able, on its own, to raise turnout into to the 90% range. Using a social norms approach we also suggest that turnout problems are best solved by mandatory means. There is a particular focus on the Australian case which is, arguably, the benchmark standard for compulsory voting performance.

Compulsory Voting in Australian local, state and federal elections

  • History at

  • "The starting point of the process came in 1902, the first election having been held, pursuant to sections 10 and 31 of the Constitution, under the laws of the various States. The Commonwealth Parliament enacted the Commonwealth Franchise Act 1902 and the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1902, which taken together provided for a secret ballot, votes for men and women (but not for aboriginals), and plurality ("first-past-the-post") voting for both the Senate and the House of Representatives."

  • "A reform with profound implications for the conduct of day-to-day political campaigning, but with a partisan impact difficult to measure, was the introduction of compulsory voting in 1924. As a consequence of compulsory voting, parties do not have to devote to "getting out the vote" the sorts of resources which are deployed by, for example, the main US political parties. Compulsory voting has long been accepted without much complaint within Australia, while being regarded by outside observers as somewhat eccentric. In recent years the debate, such as it is, has taken a new turn, with attention being focussed not so much on the question of individual rights - any voter can if he or she so chooses avoid making a choice of candidates by casting a deliberately informal vote - but on the effect which compulsory voting has had on the overall quality of political discourse and government in Australia."

  • Compulsory vs non-compulsory voting in elections in Australia

    • At

    • History of Compulsory Voting in Australia:
      • advocated by Alfred Deakin at the turn of the century
      • compulsory enrolment introduced in 1911
      • compulsory voting first adopted in Queensland in 1915. Federally it was introduced in 1924 on the basis of a Private Members Bill
      • compulsory voting has become a distinctive feature of the Australian political culture.

    • Arguments used in favour of compulsory voting:
      • voting is a civic duty comparable to other duties citizens perform eg taxation, compulsory education, jury duty
      • the educative benefits of political participation
      • parliament reflects more accurately the "will of the electorate"
      • governments must consider the total electorate in policy formulation and management
      • candidates can concentrate their campaigning energies on issues rather than encouraging voters to attend the poll
      • the voter isn’t actually compelled to vote for anyone because voting is by secret ballot.

  • Compulsory Voting in Australia (Including a list of countries where voting is compulsory)


    • "Other countries which have some form of compulsory voting are: Argentina, Austria ,Belgium , Bolivia , Brazil , Cyprus , Dominican Republic , Egypt , Greece , Guatemala, Honduras , Liechenstein , Luxembourg , Panama , Philippines , Singapore , Switzerland (some cantons only) , Uruguay , Venezuela"

  • Compulsory voting: a useful target for anti-state action?


    • "The question I want to address here is why compulsory voting in Australia is so readily accepted. Why has there been so very little organised resistance to it? The wider interest here is in assessing what sorts of campaigns to challenge state power are likely to mobilise widespread support. If there are some techniques by which governments can defuse obvious libertarian objections to the exercise of state power to enforce voting, this may provide insights useful for deciding on and promoting campaigns on other issues.

      As a case study, I use the system of compulsory voting in Australia. The insights from the Australian experience should apply elsewhere. The Australian culture and political system are generally similar to those in other English-speaking countries. The difference in voting systems are not obviously correlated with other systematic differences in social structures.

      Although some commentators have portrayed Australians as acquiescent to government impositions, there is evidence contrary to this. There were, for example, well organised anti-conscription movements during World War One and the Vietnam War. The plan by the federal government a few years ago to introduce a national identity card was defeated by a large, spontaneous opposition uniting both left and right wing forces. Government compulsion is neither automatically accepted nor automatically rejected in Australia.

      I begin by outlining the introduction of compulsory voting in Australia in the first half of this century, and then turn to the practical details of voting. Next, I describe the attitudes and action of some contemporary anarchist groups. Finally, I comment on the implications of this evidence for the development of campaigns against state power."

    • "In Australia, it is relatively easy to avoid the compulsory registration. In moving to a new address in a different electoral district, for example, it is simple to fail to register, by neglect or by choice, in the new district. Few of the officials looking after the rolls vigilantly seek out the unregistered."

      (Lachlan's note: as mentioned at the top of this webpage, this is bollocked and a totally unwarranted slur on the Australian Electoral Commission - possibly by someone who perhaps has never tried to avoid registering to vote.

    • "Contrary to what might be expected, opinion polls have shown that Australians who oppose compulsory voting are more likely to be apathetic about politics. They oppose compulsion because they do not want to bother to vote. Apparently, only a minority have a principled opposition to compulsion or to representative democracy."

    • "Another escape route for dissatisfaction is the informal vote. Strictly speaking, compulsory voting is a misnomer: the elector is only required to cast a ballot, but it does not have to be a valid vote. What is called an "informal" vote in Australia is any ballot that is not properly marked, such as a blank ballot or one in which the numbering of preferences is not correct or complete.

      The informal vote is usually a few percent of the ballots cast. The greatest source of informal votes is probably mistakes, especially in senate tickets where there are typically dozens of candidates. But conscious informal votes are one avenue for venting displeasure with all candidates or with voting generally."

    • "The main interest in compulsory voting by historians and political scientists has been on its impact on voting patterns. There are studies assessing the impact on voter turnout, the advantages to different political parties, and the effect on the informal vote. There is relatively little said about the opposition to (or, indeed, the support for) compulsion. I think this is because the issue in fact has caused little public controversy. In the major histories of Australia, compulsory voting rates hardly more than a footnote.

      Opinion polls show that about one-third of people oppose compulsion, a substantial minority. There are occasional articles in newspapers attacking the practice, such as one by prominent historian Geoffrey Blainey just before the 1990 federal election. But few of those who voice opposition feel strongly enough about it to try to develop a campaign of resistance."

    • "John Zube, an anarchist, sometimes failed to vote and was sent a standard letter demanding an explanation or payment of a fine. He sent electoral officials a list of numerous sayings against voting. Seemingly as a result, in some cases the fines were dropped.

      Robert Burrowes, a nonviolent activist, refused to vote on several occasions in the early 1980s because he opposes any system based on rulers. He refused to pay the resulting fines and, as a result, on two occasions spent a few hours in jail. Burrowes aimed to build a vote refusal support group but this did not happen at the time."

    • "The main exception to this pattern is in Melbourne, a city nearly the size of Sydney, where the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society since 1977 have devoted considerable energy opposing electoral politics [4]. Their bulletins over the years have featured articles against voting, and during election campaigns they have run anti-electoral campaigns with posters ("Voting: stop it or you'll go blind") and forums. This group appears to be the only one that has consistently conducted antielectoral campaigns.

      Noticeably, the efforts of the Libertarian Workers for a Self-Managed Society do not focus on the compulsion associated with voting. Removing compulsion would remove only a limited part of what they oppose, namely a system based on rulers, elected or otherwise. They want to abolish government altogether."

  • Australian Democrats and Compulsory Voting


    • "The Australian Democrats fully support the practice of compulsory voting and oppose any proposal to introduce voluntary voting in Australia. Compulsory voting is an essential element of the democratic process and it has, since 1924, been the accepted practice in all Australian State and Federal Parliamentary elections. At least twenty-one democracies practice compulsory voting at the local, state/provincial, or national level."

    • Compulsory voting and participatory democracy

      "Voting is a means of participating in the political process uniquely accessible to the largest number of citizens and for many, represents the only way they believe they can influence what the government does.

      Removing the obligation to vote is not simply a matter of freeing people from the performance of a duty. It represents a devaluing of the act of voting by the government and a corresponding devaluing of the peoples' role in the system of government.

      Compulsory voting helps to ensure the expression of choice at least by a majority of voters and to guard against the opportunities for improper or illegal electoral practices, such as multiple voting or bribing voters. "

    • Arguments for compulsory voting

      • voting is a civic responsibility of citizens in a democratic society. Each citizen must take responsibility for who governs them and how they are governed;
      • compulsory voting ensures the expression of choice by all those eligible to vote and ensures, as far as possible, that parliaments are elected according to the will of all its citizens;
      • compulsory voting helps legitimise the electoral process and the parliaments chosen by it;
      • social and political cohesion is promoted and alienation from the political process by the disadvantaged is diminished;
      • citizens develop a sense of ownership of the political and decision-making process;
      • compulsory voting contributes to civic education and the entrenchment of civic values;
      • election campaigns focus on the issues and choices before the voters rather than concentrating on mechanisms to get people to the polls;
      • compulsory voting diminishes the opportunities for the exercise of corrupt, illegal and improper practices during elections;
      • the involvement of all citizens in an election provides some protection against domination by minority interest groups, the economically powerful and other elites.

    • Compulsory voting and individual liberty

      Voting is a positive duty owed by each citizen to the rest of society arising out of the profound political and social significance it wields.

      It is argued that compulsion to exercise a right to vote infringes individual liberty. However, it is integral to our system of democracy that citizens possess and exercise both rights and responsibilities.

      The compulsion to vote is not unique. Other citizenship responsibilities accepted by governments and citizens include jury duty, giving evidence in court proceedings, compulsory education and payment of taxes. The compulsion to vote cannot be considered an unusual or especially onerous requirement of citizens.

      In the same way that the payment of taxes is accepted as a sacrifice citizens must make to obtain various social benefits provided by a democratic system of government, the obligation to vote is accepted as a necessary duty citizens must fulfill in order to maintain our system of democracy and the benefits that flow from it.

  • What happens "in" Australia if you don't "vote"?


    • Fines for Not voting in Australian elections. Examples of "Penalty Notices", "Reminder & Final Notice", "Notice Of Possible Prosecution", "Charge and Summons", "Statement of Fines and Penalties Imposed", "Notice of Intention to Enforce" and "Final Notice".

  • Australia: The Public Record » Parliament » About Legislation


    • Private Senators' and Members' bills
      The right to propose legislation is not restricted to the government of the day. Any senator or member of the House of Representatives may introduce a bill and, in the Senate, a private senator's bill is dealt with in exactly the same way as a government bill. While comparatively few private senators' and members' bills are agreed to by both Houses, some significant proposals have become law as a result of private senators' and members' initiatives. Compulsory voting at federal elections was introduced as a result of Senator Payne's Electoral (Compulsory Voting) Act 1924. The banning of tobacco advertising in the print media was achieved through Senator Powell's Smoking and Tobacco Products Advertisements (Prohibition) Act 1989. From the Parliament's perspective, the most significant piece of legislation sponsored by a private senator or member was the Parliamentary Privileges Act 1987 which was introduced by the President of the Senate and which codified the Parliament's legal immunities and its powers to protect the integrity of its processes.
    • When is legislation required?
      Not every policy proposal requires legislation to implement it. Any proposal to raise or spend money requires legislation, as does any proposal creating rights or imposing obligations in relation to individuals or corporate bodies. Generally speaking, new powers may be conferred on government departments or agencies only by legislation.

  • Compulsory and preferential voting


    • "Voting is compulsory in Australia, and nonvoters must pay a fine of $100. Voters are required to rank all the candidates on the ballot in order of their preference. If no candidate wins a majority of first- preference votes, the lowest-ranking candidates are eliminated, starting from the bottom, and their votes are redistributed according to preferences until one candidate receives a majority."

    • "In the 1996 elections, the Socialist Labour League is calling on workers to cast a first-preference vote for its candidates, and to mark lower-level preferences randomly among the other candidates. It refuses to participate in the parliamentary horsetrading and vote-swapping, and seeks to instill in workers an understanding that the their class interests cannot be defended through parliament or by voting for the "lesser evil," but only through the building of an independent political movement of the working class. "

  • Australian Capital Territory: Frequently Asked Election Questions: Is voting compulsory?


    • "Yes. Voting is compulsory for every person on the electoral roll except for eligible overseas electors, Antarctic electors, electors serving a prison sentence outside the ACT and itinerant electors."

  • Voting: Should it be compulsory?


    • Compulsory voting refers to the legally required participation of all citizens in an electoral poll. The main rationale behind it is to strive for the electoral equality of all social groups.

      It is noticeable in many countries in which voting is not compulsory that some socio-economic groups are less likely to exercise their franchise than others. Nevertheless, voting is not compulsory in a majority of the world's democracies.

      In Australia, failure to vote in Federal, State, or Local Government elections is punishable by a fine.

      An interesting test of the law requiring people to vote occurred in March 1999. Ms Melissa Manson of Knoxfield, Victoria, won a seven-year battle with the Australian Electoral Commission when a Magistrate dismissed charges of failing to vote. Ms Manson was of the opinion that the right to vote should also embrace the right not to vote and she did not vote in the 1992 or 1996 State elections. A fine of $40 in 1994 was never paid and Ms Manson said she was prepared to go to jail over the issue, which she described as a "fundamental breach of civil liberties". She said she had received letters of support from politicians Peter Reith and Senator Nick Minchin.

  • Is Voting compulsory?


    • "Voting is compulsory in Australia at all federal elections for all eligible persons. Compulsory voting thus ensures the highest possible turnout of electors. Compulsory voting is not unique to Australia and is used in countries such as Argentina, Belgium, Brazil, Greece, Italy and Singapore.

      Compulsory enrolment and compulsory voting were first introduced in Queensland, where a non-Labor government hoped that it would discourage apathy among Australian electors there. Compulsory enrolment was written into the Commonwealth Electoral Act in 1911 but compulsory voting was not introduced until 1924 by a National Country Party government.

      The term compulsory voting is in fact a misnomer. The Australian electoral Acts enforce compulsory attendance, with names checked on the electoral roll. In a democracy, no electoral law can enforce a compulsory vote because any such attempt would breach the principle of the secret ballot.

      Political parties in Australia gain major benefits from compulsory voting. In most democratic nations without compulsory voting, parties firstly have to convince electors to turn out to vote and convince them that it is to their benefit if they do and secondly they have to convince voters to vote for them. The first task is done for the political parties in Australia by compulsory attendance legislation, so they can concentrate on winning support."

  • House of Representatives Practice, 3rd ed: Private Members' bills


    • "In 1924 the Electoral (Compulsory Voting) Bill, which introduced compulsory voting at Federal elections, was initiated in the Senate by a private Senator, and when transmitted to the House was sponsored by a private Member."

Compulsory voting in Belgian elections

  • Compulsory voting


    • Applicable articles:

      • Article 62, paragraph 3, of the Belgian Constitution: Chamber of Representatives
      • Article 68, § 2: Senate
      • Article 39 Law of March 23, 1989 concerning the election of the European Parliament
      • Article 26bis of the Special Law of August 8, 1980, reforming the institutions: Flemish Council and the Walloon Regional Council
      • Article 21 of the Special Law of January 12, 1989 concerning the Brussels institutions: Council of Brussels Capital
      • Article 4 of the law of July 6, 1990 regulating the way the Council of the German-speaking Community is elected: Council of the German-speaking Community
      • Article 38 of the Provincial electoral law: Elections for the Provincial Council
      • Article 64 of the Municipal electoral law: Elections for the Municipal Council


      The legal proceedings and the penalties for neglecting the compulsory vote are regulated in the articles 209 and 210 of the Belgian Electoral Code.

      A first illegitimate abstinence is punished with a reprimand or a fine of 5 to 10 Belgian franks (to be increased by 1990 additional tax, that is to be multiplied by 200), meaning 1000 to 2000 Belgian franks.

      Repetition of this offence will lead to a fine of 10 to 25 Belgian franks (= 2000 to 5000 Belgian franks).

      A replacement imprisonment is not pronounced.

      If the illegitimate abstinence occurs at least four times in 15 year, the elector is dropped from the list of voters for 10 years, and during that period, he cannot get an appointment, a promotion or a decoration of a public authority.

      However, neglecting the compulsory vote is only punishable if it is done illegitimately. The justice of peace can freely judge whether the neglect is illegitimate or not.

      Within eight days after the announcement of the elected persons, the public prosecutor draws up the list of the voters who have not participated in the vote, and whose excuse is not accepted. Finally, the Prosecution Counsel decides which offences will be prosecuted.

      The voters who have not performed their duty to vote, appear, served with a summons, before the magistrates’ court, that judges without a possibility of further appeal.

      Other countries with a compulsory vote:

      Luxembourg, Greece, Australia, and most of the South American countries.

Other links relating to compulsory voting in elections

  • Comparative Participation Rates: Compulsory and Non-Compulsory Voting: (Administration and Cost of Elections Organisation)


    • "Countries in which registration is voluntary, such as the United States, tend to have lower participation rates in the election than countries in which it is mandatory, such as Denmark. Similarly, there appears to be a marginal increase in voter turnout, as well, when voting is made mandatory.(19)

      This said, however, there is much to suggest that voter turnout is not a simple function of legislating compulsory voting. A recent study in Malta, which does not have compulsory voting, for example, has shown that voter turnout has been much higher during the 1990s than in Australia, where voting is mandatory (96.7 percent versus 82.7 percent, respectively).(20) Similarly, a comparison of voter turnout in Central American countries between 1989 and 1991 showed that turnout was the highest in Nicaragua (86 percent), where voting was not compulsory, and lowest in El Salvador (52 percent), where voting was compulsory.(21)"

  • Compulsory Voting in Australia (Including a list of countries where voting is compulsory)


    • "Other countries which have some form of compulsory voting are: Argentina, Austria ,Belgium , Bolivia , Brazil , Cyprus , Dominican Republic , Egypt , Greece , Guatemala, Honduras , Liechenstein , Luxembourg , Panama , Philippines , Singapore , Switzerland (some cantons only) , Uruguay , Venezuela"

  • Millions fail to vote (2001 UK election)


    • "The turnout in the 2001 General Election could be the lowest for more than 80 years. Initial indications suggest that the overall turnout may be as low as 58%.

      This compares with 71.6% at the 1997 General Election, which itself was the lowest turnout since the Second World War. It would be the lowest turnout since the election of 1918 when the turnout was 57%."

    • 1997 Five worst turnouts:
      51.6% Liverpool Riverside
      51.7% Manchester Central
      52% Hackney North & Stoke Newington
      53% Sheffield Central
      54.2% Leeds

  • Votes for All: Compulsory Voting in Elections: Price: £7.50: ISBN 0716330504 (Tom Watson & Mark Tami) Fabian Society; 2000; Paperback (About UK Politics)

  • Votes For All: Compulsory Participation in Elections: Written by Tom Watson and Mark Tami


    • "Despite Labour's landslide in 1997, that election saw the lowest turnout at a general election since the war. Recent local and European elections have regularly seen turnouts below 30 per cent, with the figure dropping well below 10 per cent in some areas. It appears that Britons have little interest in voting.

      The government has declared low turnout to be a "matter of serious concern" and has introduced a number of innovative measures to encourage greater participation. However one very simple way to make more people vote - to make participation in elections compulsory - has been curiously ignored.

      Votes For All argues that compulsory voting is an idea whose time has come. Using examples from other countries, Tom Watson and Mark Tami make a compelling case for its introduction as the best way to restore the legitimacy of Britain's democratic institutions."

  • Elections in Chile: Dateline: 12/18/99

  • Some Dutch electoral history:


    • "All Dutch people aged eighteen and over have the right to vote and the right to be elected. In the case of local government elections, persons of non-Dutch nationality are also eligible to vote and for election, provided they have been resident in the Netherlands legally for a minimum of five years.

      Between 1917 and 1970 voting was compulsory. Those who did not turn up at the polling station were liable to a fine. The last elections where voting was compulsory were in 1967 when 94.9% of the electorate went to the polls. When voting ceased to be compulsory, more electors stayed at home. In 1971 the turnout was 79.1%. In subsequent election years the turnout fluctuated between 78 and 80%. At the last parliamentary elections in May 1994, the turnout was 78.3%."

  • About the Center for Public Integrity - USA
    • At
    • There was a time in this country when public service was held in high esteem, when the best and brightest were drawn to the nation's capital to work for the public good and in the public interest.

      Now, the landscape has changed. As The New York Times put it, "Americans are being insulted by a political culture that places private gain ahead of public trust." The result is an ever-growing mass of alienated Americans. The largest group today in the United States is not Republican, Democrat or independent, but the approximately 100 million nonvoters who choose not to participate in selecting their leaders.

      Over the years, money has become the dominant influence in our political system: Money dictates how lawmakers are elected, who has access to them, and the career paths they choose after leaving government. Ultimately, those voices in the country without connections or money just don't seem to get heard.

  • Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions Turnout at Local Elections (About UK Politics)


    • As noted earlier, the issue of electoral registration and turnout is highly important in discussions about the health of American democracy. Frequently, two sets of turnout figures are available - turnout measured against the voting age population (VAP) calculated from census data and turnout measured against those actually registered to vote. As the following extract reveals, the method for calculating turnout in America is itself a contentious issue:

      '...turnout is arrived at by dividing those who voted by the population eligible to vote, NOT by those registered. For whatever the flaws (noted below) in the eligible vote (Voting Age Population) figures provided by the Census and minor anomalies in the vote count (also noted below), this gauge is by far more reliable and consistent than registration. Using registration as a denominator leaves out those who both did not register and did not vote (and, in the case of North Dakota, which has no registration, would leave out a whole state). Registration as a denominator has no consistency, since it fluctuates by changes in registration law and procedure. (A major change, such as the implementation of the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 - the so-called motor voter law - can show dramatic increases in registration and thus exaggerate decreases in turnout.) Registration lists are inflated by those who have either died or moved but remain on the lists because those lists have not been recently cleaned. This might not be a problem if each state had consistent list cleaning procedures with regard to frequency and timing, but they don't. Thus, there is no way of measuring the degree of distortion in individual states. And because of certain provisions in the motor voter law (noted below), state official registration statistics are more inaccurate than they have ever been.'
      Source: Committee for the Study of the American Electorate 1998

      As the following table makes clear, there is a large difference between the two measures. For the latest state elections, turnout was 36 per cent if all voting age adults were included but 65 per cent if registered electors only were counted. Over the period 1962-1990, turnout of registered voters has been stable but among the voting age population it has declined.

      Trends in turnout (eligible and registered electorate) in US state-wide elections 1962-1998
      Year % VAP % registered
      1998 36.06 64.6*
      1994 38.79 61.8
      1990 36.53 60.0
      1986 36.42 61.2
      1982 40.09 60.0
      1978 37.77 60.1
      1974 38.78 61.6
      1970 46.78 64.9
      1966 48.61 66.0
      1962 47.57 64.2

      *this figure is an estimate only.

      Source: U.S. Bureau of the Census

The Edible Ballot Society of Canada

  • At

  • Fuck the Vote

  • "Being guilt-tripped into voting for the least offensive politician isn't synonymous with genuine democracy. Our electoral process is shallow - we don't have any real power to make decisions, just the illusion of democracy. Unless we press for real change, we will continue to jump from election to election, gradually becoming bored into submission. Click here to find out why we aren't voting in this sham election. If you need convincing, or have questions, try reading our FAQ. Don't vote, it only encourages them!"

  • At

  • Sept. 6th, 2001 
    Ballot Eaters Charged    
    At least three members of the Edmonton Edible Ballot Society have been 
    charged with eating their ballots in the last federal election. The 
    charges follow a year-long investigation by Elections Canada into the 
    groups' culinary activities. 
    Marika Schwandt is alleged to have liquefied her ballot with soy milk 
    and fruit before drinking it, and Mike Hudema reportedly sauteed his 
    ballot in a tangy stir fry. Witnesses claim that Chad Blackburn ate 
    his ballot raw (clearly Chad is a masochist with an iron stomach). 
    The first court appearance will take place on Wednesday, September 
    26th at 9am. Smoothies, anyone? 
    Approximately one hundred members of the Edible Ballot Society ate their 
    ballots at polling stations across Canada during the last election, 
    and the group suspects that more members will be charged. 
    Special Investigators from Elections Canada have been visiting members 
    of the group since January, and interrogating polling clerks. 
    Those who partook in a ballot meal face up to five years in jail or a 
    fine of up to $5000. "I guess there really is no such thing as a free 
    lunch", remarked one ballot-eater after receiving a court summons. 
    The trio have been charged under sections 167(2)(a) and 489(3)(e) of 
    the Canada Elections Act. These sections were intended to prevent 
    people from rigging elections by destroying other people's ballots, 
    but in this case, Elections Canada has stretched the law to catch 
    ballot eaters. 
    The trio ate their ballots because they refuse to participate in a 
    system where casting a vote for some lying tool once every four years 
    passes for democracy. They want to draw attention to the shallow 
    nature of our procedural electoral process, and spark dialogue 
    on participatory alternatives. 
    Some of these alternatives are discussed on the groups' web page 
    ( ). The web page also has many delicious 
    recipes which can turn an otherwise bland ballot into a taste sensation. 
    If you wish to ridicule the bizarre actions of Elections Canada, you 
    can write to them at 257 Slater St. Ottawa, Ontario, K1A 0M6, or 
    email them at through their web page here. 
    If you can afford to support the Edible Ballot Legal Defense and 
    Kitchen Appliance Fund, please email 
    And remember kids - If you voted, you can't complain! 
    For more info email

Date: Wed, 7 Nov 2001 02:39:54 -0500 (EST)
From: edibleballot []
Subject: Elections Canada Dumbfounded by Math

Wednesday, November 7, 2001
For Immediate Release

Elections Canada Dumbfounded by Math
Simple Subtraction Paralyses Electoral Process

Two more members of the Edible Ballot Society (EBS) will appear in court
today on charges of "the intention of delaying or obstructing the
electoral process."  Elections Canada alleges that the two EBS members ate
their ballots almost a year ago in the federal election in order to cause
a delay in the electoral process.

"While the Edible Ballot Society certainly recognizes that Elections
Canada officials are selected based on their ability to count, one would
also assume they possess the ability to do some simple subtraction as
well" says EBS member Stephanie Grossman, who will appear in court today.

"Subtracting by two causing a delay in the electoral process?  With such
an embarrassing lack of math skills it’s no wonder our elections generate
such questionable results" says Jill Sturdy, the other EBS member being
charged. "Besides, with such abysmal voter turnout, you'd think returning
officers would have plenty of free time to get together, find a
calculator, and work out a solution."

In the interest of improving everyone's math ability, the Edible Ballot
Society is offering free math lessons to Chief Electoral Officer Jean-Pierre
Kingsley in exchange for an explanation of any of the following math

- How the hell did the Liberals get 100% of the power with only 40% of the
  popular vote?
- How can we call this a democracy when it took the Bloc 31,233 votes to
  get each seat and it took the Conservatives 121,287 to get each of theirs?
- In 1997, when the Liberals received one out of every four votes in
   Alberta, why did they win only two of the province's 26 seats?
- Is it a democracy when it cost the Liberals $15 million to buy power?

As in the case of other EBS members, and perhaps in desperation to prove
their ability to add things up to the Canadian taxpayer, Elections Canada
plans to prosecute each woman in separate trials, despite identical

The charged EBS members will be offering Elections Canada officials a
remedial course in basic math after they enter their plea of not guilty to
charges of delaying the electoral process.  They are scheduled to appear in
court on Wednesday November 7, 2001 at 9:00 am at 1 Winston Churchill
Square, the first math lesson will begin at 9:30 am.  Elections Canada
officials are required to bring a sharp pencil, a notebook, and plenty of


For more information contact:
Tel. (780) 433-3524

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