As Americans, it’s our right to vote in elections, but one Colorado town is considering whether to make it a requirement.
There is a growing movement in Ridgway, a small town in southwest Colorado, to become the first place in the nation to make voting mandatory. The idea is that anyone who fails to vote without a decent excuse would be fined a certain amount of money. According to The Denver Post, the Town Council has already agreed to “put the matter on the ballot for a recent town election as a nonbinding opinion question.”
Like all great revolutionary movements, this one began in a bar. Tom Hennessy, the owner of a local hotspot, pitched the idea to town officials and managed to get enough support to put the issue on the ballot. Hennessy has referred to this movement as a potential “paradigm shift” that could affect the entire country. But, for the time being, there is still some hesitation surrounding the cause.
"I thought it was a neat idea (in the bar). When I heard Tom was going to bring it to the Town Council, I gulped," Pat Willits, Ridgway’s mayor, told The Denver Post. (And just as an aside, the Post notes that the mayor also works part-time in a bar. You know a town is small when the mayor needs another part-time gig.) Still, some hope that this will at least begin a valuable discussion about voting.
So just how bad is Ridgway’s voter turnout? There are 790 registered voters and the Post reports that in one election, just 82 showed up.