IWA Debate: Would compulsory voting give the unheard a voice?


Institute of Welsh Affairs (IWA)

Website: https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/o/institute-of-welsh-affairs-iwa-5331439653


1 Callaghan Square, CF10 5BT

Cardiff, GB, CF10 5BT

In partnership with Cardiff University

The 2015 General Election was considered a success in terms of voter turnout. Despite this, one third of those registered did not turnout to vote on May 7th. In total, only 24% of registered voters cast their votes for the eventual Government.

Voter turnout for Welsh elections in particular has been consistently low. 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.

Turnout isn’t just a Welsh problem, or even a UK problem, but while we’re in a position where more than half of voters haven’t engaged in a decision over who governs us, there are many unheard voices not being represented by multiple layers of governance.

The country with the highest voter turnout in the world is Australia, where 94.5% of people voted in the last election. From the age of 18, people in Australia have a legal duty to register and vote, otherwise they face a fine and potentially a court appearance.

While this system of compulsory voting ensures a record number of people visiting the ballot box, there are many opponents to the idea who say the notion is contradictory to the very idea of democracy.

Should Wales follow the lead of Australia and other countries who have introduced compulsory voting, and put a legal duty on us all to register and vote, or are there better ways to ensure more people’s voices are represented within politics?

The IWA Debate, in partnership with Cardiff University, will see both sides of the argument debated ahead of May’s crucial election.

Speakers for this debate include: 

  • Professor Laura McAllister (Chair), Professor of Governance at the University of Liverpool and IWA Trustee,

  • Katie Ghose, Chief Executive, Electoral Reform Society, 

  • Abdul-Azim Ahmed, Assistant Secretary General, Muslim Council for Wales,

  • Dr Stuart Fox, Civil Society Researcher, Cardiff University,

  • Professor Sally Holland, Children’s Commissioner for Wales

This is a free event, but places are limited so tickets must be booked.

This event has been kindly supported by Eversheds.