Comparing Youth Opinions Toward Compulsory Voting Across Five Countries
Keywords:Civic Education, Voting, Perspective-Taking
This study uses a comparative case study design to examine youth (ages 13-20) opinions toward compulsory voting across five democratic countries: Colombia, Ecuador, Mexico, Peru, and the United States. Youth responses to questionnaire items concerning compulsory voting were coded and analyzed with the guidance of a political socialization conceptual framework. Youth responses toward compulsory voting demonstrate how youth come to learn about citizen rights and responsibilities with varied understandings of what it means to participate in a democracy. Five themes represent the most notable variations of reasons given by youth to support and oppose compulsory voting: rights and duties, corruption, inclusion of minorities, informed citizenry, and strong democracy. Further, the majority of students gave at least one reason for and against compulsory voting demonstrating students’ ability of perspective-taking, to give reasons for the perspective with which they disagree. This study provides an analysis of how youth political opinions are constructed and negotiated by social and political influences. The findings have implications for educational researchers and social studies teachers as they work to improve civic education.