Would compulsory voting give the unheard a voice?

Dr Stuart Fox and Katie Ghose make the case for and against the introduction of compulsory voting.

Turnout for Welsh assembly elections has consistently been below 50%. 42.2% turned out for the Welsh Assembly elections in 2011. Only 35.2% of voters took part in a referendum that year on legislative powers.

This isn’t just a Welsh problem, but as we approach this year’s May election we do so with the knowledge that in all likelihood more than half of the population will not be engaged with the decision over who is in power for the next five years. A significant amount of people’s voices will not be heard in the campaigns or reflected in the assembly that follows. We know that the parts of society least likely to vote are young people and people from lower socio economic backgrounds. How can we ensure that these ‘unheard’ have the chance to make their views on important policies that affect their day to day lives known?

Some countries, such as Australia, have introduced a compulsory voting system, where a legal duty is in place for all citizens to register and vote. But should Wales follow this lead, or are there other ways we can ensure that the unheard are given a voice?

The fourth in the IWA Debate series, in partnership with Cardiff University, examined these questions at an event in central Cardiff on the 29th March.

Making the case for compulsory voting being introduced was Dr Stuart Fox of WISERD at Cardiff University. You can hear his arguments below.

Making the case against compulsory voting being introduced was Katie Ghose, Chief Executive of the Electoral Reform Society.

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