Compulsory voting

The Ulster Unionist Party today proposed a motion at the NI Assembly calling upon to the government to consider making it compulsory to vote in Northern Ireland.

Whilst it is concerning that many people don't vote making them turn up at the Polling Station isn't, in my opinion, the solution.

Experience from other countries who have compulsory voting indicates that enforcement of the legislation is particularly difficult. Apart from being a waste of time and money introducing compulsory voting in NI would rightly be seen by the electorate as an arrogant measure from aloof politicians forcing their electorate to engage with a political set-up that desperately needs shook up.

In the last Assembly election 46% North Down's electorate didn't vote.

Anecdotal evidence suggests that a significant proportion of these electors have moderate views and didn't vote because they are disillusioned with politics. If these people did vote Northern Ireland would be very very different but, unfortunately, they don't vote and we have the current set-up at Stormont and in Council chambers across NI dominated by parties such as the DUP and Sinn Fein who are obsessed proving their Unionist or Nationalist credentials whilst everyday life continues and Northern Ireland remains in a recession.

Rather than introducing illiberal legislation and telling the electorate what to do the Ulster Unionist Party should instead examine why people aren't bothering to vote and work with other parties, such as the Alliance Party, to shake-up politics and engage with the electorate to deliver a new form of politics which inspires and looks to the future rather than the past.
18 January 2010

NI Assembly Motion

That this Assembly notes the positive effect that compulsory voting has had on democracy in the Commonwealth of Australia; and calls on Her Majesty’s Government to consider introducing similar rules for elections in the United Kingdom.