In my opinion, mandatory voting wouldn’t really add anything useful to the system. I think the question is: what would we do with the new information we got from the added votes, especially in areas where the majority of people really don’t care who is elected?
If there’s a “whatever/don’t care” option, what should be done if it wins? If we just ignore it and go with the “real” winner, we haven’t really gained anything over letting the don’t-care people stay home. Another election could be ordered, but there’s no guarantee a plurality of people will ever vote for a candidate… unless they just stop using the don’t care choice and pick randomly so as to avert another tiresome election and put SOMEBODY in office.
If there isn’t such a choice, a lot of voters will probably just vote randomly. A little anecdote here - I used to live in a town whose population was about 20,000 - let’s be conservative and say the voting-age population made up half of that. In the last election I voted in, I think only about 600-1000 people voted, at most. What would have happened if another few thousand random votes got added in to that? It’s quite possible that purely by chance, or because one guy had a cooler name, or for any other reason, the results of the election could have gone the other way - and so the people who actually did have an opinion about the election and might have been making an informed decision could be essentially overruled for no reason.
To be fair, these problems are probably more relevant to a small population like the one I described than for a nationwide election - I don’t seriously envision “none of the above” winninng a presidential election, for example, and random fluctuations would probably be less significant on a larger scale. alterego, do you think all elections should have mandatory voting, or only certain ones (i.e. national)?
Finally, I think the system we have is fair enough - if you don’t care who gets elected, you let the people who do care decide. The people who do vote don’t get their votes diluted, and the ones who don’t aren’t inconvenienced by going out to the polls to cast a meaningless vote.
I do realize that mandatory voting is in place in some countries and that it hasn’t led to a breakdown in democracy or anything like that. I must admit my general ignorance on the particulars though; can someone who knows about this fill me in on how they are run, how the problem of random votes is handled, whether there is a “none” option, etc?