While reading that new Argentina Elections website I wrote about last night, I came across a link to a report from the UK Electoral Commission, “Compulsory Voting Around The World.” Every once in a while I field questions about compulsory voting, and whether or not it might be a good mechanism for increasing voter participation in the U.S. This study provides some interesting information on compulsory voting systems throughout the world; one of the more interesting tables in the report is the very first one, which presents each compulsory voting nation by the extent to which they enforce their compulsory voting requirements.
The report notes: “… it is clear from the available evidence that compulsory voting both increases aggregate turnout and reduces the variation in turnout rates among different groups. Less clear is the effect compulsory voting has on political engagement more generally, encompassing political interest, knowledge and participation. The available evidence does suggest that compulsion is less effective in promoting better public knowledge of politics or in increasing political engagement” (page 6).
This is a good reference for questions about compulsory voting, the state of the research on compulsory voting, and for information about the different compulsory voting systems used throughout the world.