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Australia does it: Should Americans be required to vote?

by AirTalk®

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Residents fill in their ballots during early voting at the a courthouse in Iowa. Should Americans be required to vote? Scott Olson/Getty Images

Australians chose a new prime minister earlier this month with a voter turnout rate that would shock most Americans. Nearly every Australian voted in that election - but not out of choice. It was because they have to. Voting has been required in Australia since the 1920s and it results in a 90 percent turnout at their elections.

Australia is one of 23 countries around the world that require their citizens to cast ballots. Nearly every election cycle someone makes the argument that Americans should be required to vote to boost our usually-dismal turnout.

Only 15 percent of Los Angeles residents voted in the last mayoral election. The 2012 presidential election only got 57 percent of people out to the polls.

Would requiring citizens to vote help get people more engaged in the election process? What are some of the problems with this? Without mandatory voting, how else could citizens be encouraged to participate? Do you think Americans should be required to vote?

Norman Ornstein, resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute

Jason Brennan, professor at Georgetown University and author of The Ethics of Voting

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