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Report No. 255

(ii) Equality: Does compulsory voting ensure the enfranchisement of the weaker classes?

9.13. The participation argument for compulsory voting has an associated equality dimension to it. The argument proceeds on the assumption that voter apathy is more prevalent amongst the weaker, marginalised socio-economic class and thus compulsory voting will ensure that their voices get heard.

Thus, compulsory voting was justified in Canada "for boosting electoral turnout amongst the weakest in society";404 and in Belgium "to avoid upper class citizens putting pressure on uneducated or poor citizens not to vote in the elections".405 However, such arguments are not applicable in India, where it is the rich, who often do not exercise their voting rights, and whose turnout is often lower than the poor.406

404. Henry Milner et al., The Paradox of Compulsory voting: Participation does not Equal Knowledge, 8(3) IRPP Policy Matters (2007)

405. IDEA, Compulsory voting in Western Europe, in Voter Turnout In Western Europe,
<http://www.idea.int/publications/voter_turnout_weurope/upload/chapter%203.pdf> (hereinafter "IDEA, Europe")

406. Amit Ahuja and Pradeep Chibar, Why the Poor Vote in India: If I don't Vote, I am Dead to the State,
<http://www.polsci.ucsb.edu/faculty/ahuja/aa/Research_files/Ahuja%20and%20Chhibber%20-%20Why%20the%20Poor%20Vote%20in%20India%3ASCID%20%282012%29.pdf >



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