Compulsory Voting is Unconstitutional | Human Events


President Obama recently praised the idea of “mandatory voting,” saying it would be “transformative” and “completely change the political map in this country,” showing again how unbound he feels by the limits imposed on the power of government by the Constitution and the Bill of Rights.

The president apparently does not believe that the right to speak, which is protected under the First Amendment, includes the right not to speak. And there is no question that we are speaking when we make our choices in the ballot booth. When we don’t vote, we are again making a choice, a choice not to speak that also sends a political message.

The government cannot force you to speak or to vote (or to say a prayer). While Obama may admire the small number of countries that make voting mandatory, such a requirement violates the basic constitutional rights that Americans enjoy and our most cherished liberty: the right to be left alone by the government.

In fact, countries such as Australia enforce their voting requirement by imposing fines on non-voters. In 1964, we ratified the 24th Amendment, which prohibits making voting contingent on paying a poll tax. Yet President Obama is now proposing what would in essence be a reverse poll tax on any American who decides not to vote.

It says a lot about President Obama’s political and social views that he talks about imposing a requirement that even socialist-minded countries such as Italy have rescinded. As my co-author John Fund points out, the former Italian foreign minister Antonio Martino, said that “there was finally a consensus that it was a basic infringement of freedom.”

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