LETTER: True democracy needs no compulsion to vote

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The Independent Online
From Mr David Nowell

Sir: Compulsory voting, as advocated by Peter Hain, MP would increase turnouts at elections but would be counter-productive as individuals who did not want to vote would simply not register to vote. Unless those that did not vote were fined, with all the administrative costs, the law would be ignored and if it were enforced, it could become as unpopular as the poll tax. People can have genuine reasons for not voting, such as being called away at short notice and the courts would be clogged with cases trying to get fines overturned.

Rather than using a stick to try and solve the problem, a carrot in the form of a pounds 10 or pounds 20 voucher off the next council tax bill would be more effective. This would be issued when you voted or sent to you when you returned a postal vote. Council tax bills would go up to cover the cost of the rebates and only non-voters would face a real increase in their council tax. Obviously, there would be some administrative cost but this would be a small price to pay for increased participation in the democratic process.

Yours sincerely,

David Nowell

New Barnet, Hertfordshire

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