In This Review

100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting
100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting
By E. J. Dionne, Jr. and Miles Rapoport
New Press, 2022, 224 pp.

In 2024, when many fear that a complete breakdown of U.S. democracy will occur, Australia will mark the 100th anniversary of its adoption of mandatory universal voting. In this closely argued short volume, Dionne and Rapoport contend that making voting a universal civic duty, as well as a right, could massively strengthen the United States’ troubled democracy. At first, the idea seems fantastical. But the authors methodically lay out a series of philosophical, practical, constitutional, and cultural arguments for it and compellingly describe Australia’s own experience with compulsory voting. The United States would need to start by instituting reforms to make voter registration and voting easily accessible. Those who did not vote would be subject to a minor noncompliance fee, but the First Amendment would be protected by allowing the submission of a blank ballot and the option to vote “none of the above.” Compulsory voting would end the country’s long, sorry history of voter suppression. The massive sums now directed to generating voter turnout would become unnecessary. More attention might be directed to substantive policy issues. The authors acknowledge the cultural hurdle that such a universal civic duty might pose in the United States. They note, however, that rights and duties are closely related. Americans accept the obligations of jury duty, getting a driver’s license, and registering for military service, among others. Voting could just be one more duty among many. The book provides a strong base for beginning a consequential national discussion.