Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Science (BS)

Department

Political Science

First Advisor

Vanessa Ruget

Abstract

In a world where electoral reforms are frequently discussed, numerous countries have resorted to mandating citizen participation in elections. This electoral approach – commonly termed compulsory voting – has been adopted by democratic and authoritarian regimes alike. The majority of research on compulsory voting acknowledges that it successfully increases voter turnout. Other factors including the presence and severity of sanctions for abstention have been analyzed, but the existing literature fails to consider multiple components of compulsory voting. This research strives to bridge that gap through the use of preliminary data, a literature review of existing work, and case studies of Brazil and Belgium as it seeks to address the effectiveness of compulsory voting today. By considering various elements of past and present systems simultaneously, this research finds that compulsory voting is only as effective as a country’s political, social and economic configurations allow. If implemented correctly, compulsory voting is effective in increasing voter turnout and has the potential to create more representative election results.

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