cover image 100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting

100% Democracy: The Case for Universal Voting

E.J. Dionne Jr. and Miles Rapoport. New Press, $24.99 (224p) ISBN 978-1-62097-677-7

Washington Post columnist Dionne (Code Red) and Harvard Kennedy School fellow Rapoport present a persuasive argument for mandatory voting in the U.S. Universal civic duty voting would “engage all American citizens in our democratic experiment,” the authors contend, while deterring efforts—which often target communities of color—to restrict voting rights and eligibility. Dionne and Rapoport explain how expanded mail-in voting, the loosening of restrictions on absentee ballots, and other reforms made in response to the Covid-19 pandemic contributed to record levels of participation in the 2020 presidential election. Citing the example of Australia, where the country’s universal voting system is complemented by the festive atmosphere of community events such as an election day sausage sizzle, the authors argue that making it easier to vote means that more people will do so, and that compulsory voting will lead to election results that genuinely represent the will of the people. Detailing how such a system would work in the U.S., Dionne and Rapoport propose small fines for failure to comply, incentives to encourage participation, and measures to prevent the accidental enrolling of ineligible voters. Backed by copious data and a firm grasp of the legislative process, this is a cogent call for rethinking the electoral process. (Feb.)