President Obama Talks About Mandatory Voting in the US – Truth!

President Obama Talks About Mandatory Voting in the US – Truth!

Summary of eRumor: 

President Obama said that mandatory voting for U.S. citizens would help make money in politics less powerful.

The Truth: 

It’s true that President Obama talked about mandatory voting at a town hall meeting.

But the White House later denied that he planned to make it a law.

President Obama was asked about the impact of money in politics at a stop in Cleveland, Ohio, on March 18, 2015. Obama replied that mandatory voting would be one way to make money less powerful:

“We shouldn’t be making it harder to vote. We should be making it easier to vote. I’ve said that publicly before. So, my Justice Department is going to be vigorous in terms of trying to force voting rights. I gave a speech down in Selma on the 50th anniversary, and it was incredibly moving for me, and my daughters, and the notion that in this day and age we would be deliberately trying to restrict the franchise makes no sense. At the state and local levels you can push back against that and make sure we’re expanding the franchise, not restricting it.

“In Australia, that’s one of the countries that have mandatory voting. It would be transformative if everybody voted. That would counteract money more than anything. If everybody voted, then it would completely change the political map in this country because the people who tend not to vote are young, they’re lower income, they’re skewed more heavily toward immigrant groups and minority groups. They’re often the folks who are scratching and climbing to get into the middle class and working hard. There’s a reason why some folks try to keep them away from the polls when we should be trying to get them into the polls. So, that may be a better strategy in the short-term.”

A day after the president’s remarks, White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said the president had given an “open-ended answer” to the question. Earnest added that, “The president was not making a specific policy prescription for the United States.”

About 40% of eligible voters cast ballots in the 2012 presidential election. In Australia, voters are required to go to the polls, but they aren’t forced to cast a ballot. About 95% of people turn out for elections there, and the other 5% “may incur a small fine if insufficient excuse is offered,” wrote Haydon Manning, a professor at the University of Rochester.