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Full Participation

A Comparative Study of Compulsory Voting

By Sarah Birch

Full Participation is the first booklength study of compulsory voting to be published in the English language. About a quarter of all democracies legally compel their citizens to vote. Many commentators and policymakers in voluntary voting nations see mandatory attendance at the polls as an attractive option to combat declining turnout. Yet we know relatively little about this practice beyond its effects on rates of electoral participation.

Until now there has been little systematic examination of how compulsory voting shapes attitudes, behavior, and outcomes of the political process. This volume seeks to provide a comprehensive description, analysis, and evaluation of compulsory voting as it is practiced throughout the world.

The book systematically examines the history of compulsory voting, the arguments for and against it, and the influence it has on a range of political phenomena. These include electoral campaigns, political attitudes, electoral integrity and legitimacy, policy outcomes, and turnout. The book also considers the feasibility of introducing compulsory voting into a contemporary democracy, as well as variations designed to broaden its appeal.

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