Hey, let’s have compulsory voting

I just got back from Australia. Nice country; it’s like California, but solvent. They have compulsory voting there. By Tea Party standards, that makes them one gulag shy of North Korea. But Aussies don’t have to vote for Dear Leader, or anyone at all. They can leave their ballot blank; they just have to send it in.

Think about what Tuesday night’s primaries would be like if we required something like that. (It would be trickier in primaries than in general elections, but go with it). On the one hand, millions of Americans might have to DVR their favorite reality TV show. On the other, we probably wouldn’t elect candidates like Christine O’Donnell. The press will interpret her victory as fresh evidence that America has swung to the right. But the better explanation is that only Americans who swing right bothered to vote. Turnout, especially in off year elections, and especially in primaries in off year elections, is notoriously low. In Delaware, admittedly a small state, O’Donnell won a contest in which only 50,000 people turned out.