No kidding. Suggesting mandates — and especially enforcing them — seems to be all that’s on Barack Obama’s mind as President. Yesterday, Obama told an audience during a speech on middle-class economics that the US should really consider making voting mandatory … like health insurance and footing the bill for contraception, et cetera et cetera et cetera:

“Other countries have mandatory voting,” Obama said Wednesday in Cleveland, where he spoke about the importance of middle class economics.

“It would be transformative if everybody voted — that would counteract money more than anything.”

The clout of millionaires and billionaires in campaign funding has been enormous, and many claim the uber wealthy have undue leverage in politics.

“The people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minorities,” Obama said. “There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls.”

The President cited Australia as one of the countries that has mandatory voting. But there are many more.

At least 26 countries have compulsory voting, according to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance. Failure to vote is punishable by a fine in countries such as Australia and Belgium; if you fail to pay your fine in Belgium, you could go to prison.

“I don’t think I’ve ever said this publicly,” Obama started out his argument … and there’s a reason for it. As Popehat noted on Twitter this morning, the act of not voting is political speech, protected by the First Amendment. He’s also nonplussed that someone would have to explain that to a person often described as a Constitutional scholar:

I’d be curious to hear more from Obama on how exactly he’d see enforcing this mandate. Through the IRS, perhaps, like the ObamaCare individual mandate? After the scandal of their targeting of conservatives, that would certainly be a popular option. How would one know that an actual ballot had been filed by each person, for that matter? Ballots now have no identifying markers. If one got marched to the precinct and counted as present but never submitted a ballot, then the counts would be wildly off, and the results constantly under question. And if all they do is submit blank ballots, what good is that anyway?

There’s an old joke about progressives that in their perfect world, that which is not illegal would be made mandatory. It doesn’t sound so funny after the last six years.