Imagine an American democracy where the election system was designed to allow citizens to perform their most basic civic duty with ease and without obstruction. Imagine every citizen treating voting as a civic duty, a society where nearly everyone voted.
Our current crisis of governance has focused unprecedented public attention on intolerable inequities and demands that Americans think boldly and consider reforms that until now seemed beyond our reach. A new report from The Brookings Institution and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School explores the idea of requiring every eligible citizen to participate in our elections.
In 26 countries across the world, there is some form of civic duty voting. What would this system look like in the United States? How could universal civic duty voting change the dynamic of our elections and campaigning? Does this proposal pass constitutional muster? What do Americans think of civic duty voting? These questions and more are addressed in a recently released report, “Lift Every Voice: The Urgency of Universal Civic Duty Voting.”
On July 20, Governance Studies at Brookings and the Ash Center for Democratic Governance and Innovation at Harvard Kennedy School cohosted a webinar to discuss key takeaways from the paper on civic duty voting. Panelists discussed the current state of our election system and transformative steps lawmakers can take to increase turnout and make our elections truly representative.