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MPs call for compulsory voting and a lower the voting age

Everyone of voting age is compelled to vote in Australia. Credit: Rui Vieira/PA Wire

In Scotland's referendum, 16 year old were given the vote.

In Australia, everyone of voting age is compelled to vote.

In the UK, a group of MPs has just called for this country to do both.

The Political and Constitutional Reform Committee has unanimously agreed to recommend:

  • Online voting (including on smart phones)
  • Quicker ways of registering to vote (including on the day of an election)
  • A huge programme of devolution as well as mandatory voting
  • Extending the franchise to 16 and 17 year olds

Although the Scottish referendum involved a straightforward Yes/No choice, the decision to allow 16 and 17 year olds to take part had a huge impact on voter turnout.

85 per cent turned out to vote in September. That compares with a turnout of 65% in the 2010 General Election.

The chairman of the committee, Labour's Graham Allen, predicts our democracy faces "a crisis" unless urgent changes are made to the political system.

The report is published as opinion polls continue to show that the UK's traditional two party system is fragmenting.

In fact, some polls show that the combined vote share of the two biggest parties, Labour and the Conservatives, is now below 60 per cent.

Compulsory voting has existed in Australia for more than 80 years but those who oppose it say every citizen should have the right NOT to vote as well as the right to vote.

In fact, they say mandatory voting in a democracy in not democratic.

Voter turnout was just 65% in the 2010 General Election. Credit: Eye Ubiquitous/Press Association Images

Only around a dozen countries in the world enforce compulsory voting rules.

The MPs here suggest giving the option on every ballot paper to register an abstention or "none of the above".

The report is being released on the day members of the UK Youth Parliament sit in the House of Commons.

It's the sixth year the organisation has held debates in the chamber.