Letter: Why not force them to vote?

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Sir: Pouring scorn upon the young for their alleged lack of interest in politics ignores a larger issue of voter apathy. If polls are to be believed (hush your sniggering), then the 49 per cent commitment to vote quoted by Polly Toynbee (28 April) is higher than the turnout at most American presidential elections.

I have not seen any serious debate about making voting at a general election compulsory, as it is in Australia. I well remember my first visit to the polling booth. Poised in silence, in private, about to pass judgement on how my country was to be ruled, it was like worship at a secular altar. Now that really was "cool". A few years afterwards, a group from the University's Chinese community stood outside the Union building one morning handing out white flowers in memory of the first-time voters who died in Tiananmen Square. Poignancy of this kind makes one a committed voter.


Oriel College