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Compulsory Voting As of recent times not only has the conception of United States as the international vanguard of democracy been tarnished but also several flaws of the American democratic system have been revealed raising questions about the legitimacy of the American government Indeed it is hard to claim with a straight face that fundamental questions concerning the legitimacy of the government of the United States as a democratic system of governance representative of the will of its citizens are unwarranted Such questions about the legitimacy of the American government arise partly as a result of recent statistics depicting the traditionally low rate of voter participation in national elections The percentage of the voting age population VAP that turned out to vote in national presidential elections has declined from 6306 in 1960 to 513 in 2000 Federal Election Commission and the decline of the percentage of the VAP that votes in mid-term elections has been even greater with only a staggeringly low 394 turnout in 2002 constituting a more than 20 decrease from the 1960s Center for Voting and Democracy Since 1924 the percentage of the VAP that voted in presidential elections has hovered somewhere around 50 Federal Electoral Commission Moreover the United States ranks 139th out of 172 countries in terms of the average percentage of the VAP that has turned out for every national election since 1945 with an average of 477 in 28 elections while countries with a comparable number of national elections such as Austria Australia Belgium Netherlands Denmark Sweden New Zealand Iceland and Italy all have above 80 VAP participation IDEA 83-84 There are those who dispute the decline in turnout stating that measures of the VAP include felons and foreign nationals who are of voting age and living in the United States but who are ineligible to vote and exclude American nationals who live abroad If the turnout rates are adjusted accordingly it is true that there has
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