LETTER: Compulsory voting

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It is, of course, true that a majority of the voters in this country did not vote for Brexit, as stated by your correspondent Mr Main (letters page December 30).

It is equally true that a majority did not vote to remain, as some 28 per cent chose not to vote; it is not realistic to attempt to explain why those who stayed at home chose to do so.

It has been stated that the result of the referendum is undemocratic. If this is so, then it is equally true of almost every other election held in this country. For example, at the last county council election for East Sussex some four years ago the successful candidate received approximately one third of the votes cast (there were four candidates). The turnout was about 20 per cent, which means that she was elected by about 7 per cent of the total eligible voters. This is a normal event in local elections, although it could be seen as an extreme example. But even in parliamentary elections, in very nearly every constituency, including this one, the successful candidate in 2015 was elected by a minority of the eligible voters.

I do not suggest that this is the ideal situation, but I do say that it is inbuilt into the electoral system as it stands at present. A possible solution would be to make voting compulsory, as is the case in for example Australia.

Obviously there are potential problems: some people physically cannot vote, some have religious objections to voting; these problems can be overcome. The inclusion on every voting paper of an option to abstain – a voting box saying “none of the above” or “no opinion” would cater to voters who wished to support none of the candidates.

Whether compulsory voting would have produced the same result in the referendum, I have no way of knowing, but it would have avoided the current ongoing debate about the validity of the result.

Councillor Anthony Bradbury

Rothwell Court, Newhaven