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Type: Conference paper
Title: Compulsory voting laws and turnout: efficacy and appropriateness
Author: Hill, L.
Louth, J.
Citation: Proceedings of the Australasian Political Studies Association Conference, University of Adelaide, 29 September - 1 October 2004 : pp. www 1-33
Publisher: APSA
Publisher Place:
Issue Date: 2004
Conference Name: Australasian Political Studies Association Conference (2004 : Adelaide, South Australia)
Statement of
Lisa Hill and Jonathon Louth
Abstract: 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.
RMID: 0020042274
Published version:
Appears in Collections:Politics publications

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