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Norman Ornstein: The U.S. should require all citizens to vote

Recommended by Alan Hickey

Published: Tuesday, July 17 2012 3:22 p.m. MDT

Voter Jim Coller, left, signs in to vote as poll worker Mary Johnson looks on at right, in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, June 26, 2012.

Sue Ogrocki, Associated Press

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Our take: How can America bring voters to the polls? This article by Norman Ornstein outlines some possible incentives that would help increase voter turnout.

One of the major problems contributing to the extraordinary dysfunction of the American political system is the series of voting processes that gives immense influence to the extreme, ideologically driven bases of the two major parties. In today's base-driven elections, party strategists try to maximize the turnout of their own base -- usually by frightening them to death about the consequences if the "enemy" prevails -- while minimizing the turnout of the other side by any means necessary and available.

In my view, the best way to ameliorate this malign dynamic is to find ways to enlarge the electorate in primaries and general elections -- to move our politics to where persuadable voters in the middle have more impact. If I could do one thing to counter our dysfunction, it would be to adopt a version of the Australian system of mandatory attendance at the polls.

Read more about The U.S. should require all citizens to vote on www.theatlantic.com.

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