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Mandatory Voting?

6 April 2015

While I tend to think a mandatory vote is a good idea, when it was suggested  by Barack Obama, Untitledthere were a number of objections, beyond the usual ones (whether relevant or not) that pop up in the United States any time Obama suggests anything.  We have mandatory voting here in Mexico, and for those who want to vote “nobody”, there is always the option of spoiling your ballot… either writing “FUCK YOU” (in Spanish, Nahuatl, or any other language you wish) or …  writing in a vote for Morris the Cat, or drawing a picture, or otherwise expressing your sentiments.  Those who have religious scruples against voting can simply drop in an unmarked ballot (as can those who just want to vote for no one).

While mandatory, there is no penalty for NOT voting… until now.  It appears the new election law does sanction those who support abstaining… and sanctions them quite severely, with fines of up to 100 minimum wages and up to three years in prison.  While this would seem to be one of those criminal offenses that “could be” charged but never, in reality, is, the new law is likely to be used this year, given that prominent dissidents, including poet Javier Sicilia, anti-corruption and peace activist Padre Alejandro Solalinde and various dissident groups in Guerrero have all openly called for rejecting the ballot box as a means to force the country to reform the political party system.

What this appears to be is a last-ditch attempt to save the upcoming July elections from an embarrassingly low turn-out which would, indeed, be a victory for those seeking a reformed electoral system.  Perhaps the voters will (under compulsion) turn out and just vote “nobody”… which would, in a way, have the same effect.  Or dare the government to try prosecuting them.  Alas, it’s not going to be a poet or padre on trial, but some dissident school-teacher who they could also try to tie to narcos.

La abstención y el llamado a no votar es penado con cárcel en la nueva ley electoral, SinEmbargo, 5 April 2015

President Obama endorses mandatory voting, Washington Post, 19 March 2015

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