Voting is something that every adult citizen of a country should take part in. For us in Kenya voting is optional, and in most elections most voters choose to abstain from the process.
Apart from paying taxes, voting should be the other civic duty that a patriotic citizen should do bearing in mind that bad leaders are elected by good citizens who dont vote.
Twenty two nations worldwide have made voting mandatory for its citizens, In Australia for example, failure to vote attracts a fine equivalent to Ksh 1,400.
In the USA President Barrack Obama was on record saying that he sees compulsory voting as a way to combat the influence of money in politics, “It would be trans-formative if everybody voted” he said, when responding to low voter turn out of 2012 USA elections
If voting is to be a legal duty required of all Kenyans and not a choice, we wouldn’t see too many non performing or corrupt leaders in the Senate, National Assembly, County governments and County Assemblies. As Mwanainchi will make an informed decision before casting his vote.
When you vote due to compulsion, you eliminate your right to complain and your fellow countrymen will be remind to inform that you had every opportunity to choose the person you wanted to see in power. Choosing a government body is something that every citizen of a country should take part in.
This idea sounds outlandish but, there are 744 million people around the world that are currently bound by some form of compulsory voting with Democratic Republic of Congo the only country in Africa.
In mandatory voting, Politicians will have to focus on the issues and make a debate about where to take a country as the primary emphasis of their campaign. It will be the first time we see an era of voter bribery come to and end.
This will allow the voter to more accurately cast a ballot for a candidate who is likely to support their desires or wishes. In such a system voting for the first time Kenyans will have to go to the ballot on weekends to make sure that most people don’t have to take time away from work to be able to vote.
This change of civic norms in Kenya, will become more a duty for all Kenyans more than a human right issue. It will be just the same as having children attend school or paying taxes that are mandatory.
When a state legally compels its citizenry to vote, the burden shifts from the individual to the state to ensure that everyone takes part in elections. In Kenya it would mean all persons above eighteen years acquire Identification and voters card.
If its the government burden for everyone to vote then we would see polling facilities in hospitals, Military barracks and prisons to ensure that those who are unable to get to a polling location can still vote. The tyranny of numbers will be one thing Kenyans will forget by having every adult cast his vote.
Kenya should consider making voting mandatory at times it makes no sense to invest heavily in an electoral process and a number of disenfranchised,or a larger number of eligible, ID-holding adults and registered as voters fail to show up at the ballot box.