Obama suggests it might be time to make voting mandatory

Less than 144-million Americans voted in 2014

(AP Photo/The Wilmington Star-News, Mike Spencer, File)

AGAWAM, Mass. (WWLP) – It’s called compulsory voting, and more than two dozen countries have it. On Wednesday, President Obama hinted that a law requiring citizens to vote might do us some good.

Less than 144-million Americans voted in 2014. To put that number into perspective, that’s nearly half of United State’s population of 319- million. Connecticut resident Carol Mastrantonio told 22News something needs to change, but she’s not sure that’s it. “I do feel we need more participation in the voting process. It’s going a little overboard making it mandatory,” she said.

Some people say such a requirement would strip them of their freedom, and force un-informed and un-interested voters to cast ballots. But others including Southwick resident Marta James argue mandatory voting would change the political atmosphere… in a good way. “I think that would be a better thing, I think not enough people are voting, and I think another problem is that there are only two parties and they fight with each other over everything,” she said.

The United States has one of the lowest voter turnouts among developed countries, but Agawam Town Clerk Richard Theroux told 22News forcing people to the polls isn’t the best way to fix the problem. “If we had voting on Saturdays, if we had what they have in Oregon and the state of Washington, mail-in ballots, I think those issues would help us better than having a fine for people not coming to the polls,” he said.

President Obama hasn’t actually proposed a bill that would make voting a requirement yet.

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