Wales should make voting compulsory, say Labour AMs

Jeremy Miles AM. Picture: National Assembly

Voting at National Assembly elections should be made compulsory, according to Welsh Labour AMs.

Jeremy Miles, AM for Neath, said Wales should copy the example of countries such as Australia, where citizens can be fined for not voting, in order to boost turnout.

He told Newyddion 9 that he was “personally persuaded that it’s the right way to go” but that there had “not been a very wide debate” about it in Wales.

Mr. Miles added that there should be a right to abstain when filling in the ballot paper for those who did not wish to support any politician or party.

Fellow Labour AM Lee Waters backed his idea. However, the First Minister said it was a “cop out” and that it was the responsibility of politicians to increase turnout.

 

Turnout at devolved elections in Wales and Scotland

Analysis

by Ifan Morgan Jones

Engagement with the Welsh Assembly is crucial and compulsory voting needs to be one option on the table to solve that problem.

It would not, however, solve another, larger problem, which is that many of the people of Wales are fundamentally ignorant about what goes on at the National Assembly.

A survey by the BBC/ICM in 2014 found that there was widespread confusion about what powers were devolved to the Welsh Assembly, with only 48% correctly identifying that health was a devolved matter, and 42% wrongly believing they had control over policing.

Forcing people who do not feel they have all the facts to vote could lead to some very odd decisions, which may not be in Wales’ best interests.

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