11-10-14 – Shap Smith’s Compulsory Voting Mania

Posted by John McClaughry

The voter turnout in this year’s election was a paltry 44%. That fact has distressed Vermont Democratic House Speaker Shap Smith. He’s so distressed that he has put forth a truly radical proposal: compulsory voting.

Smith said Thursday on WDEV’s Mark Johnson show that voting ought to be made compulsory, and those who fail to vote should be fined.

This proposal again illustrates how easy today’s progressivism shades into outright totalitarianism. You must do what the State directs, or pay a fine, or if you’re broke, do community service. Or if you won’t do any of these things, presumably you’ll be sent to the Gulag until you come around.

Shap Smith’s proposed new state mandate would emulate the compulsory voting laws of the People’s Republican of North Korea or the old Soviet Union. The next step, as in those places, would be limiting the ballot choices to government-approved candidates, or even just one approved candidate. Then you would not only be forced to vote, but you would have the choice of a Josef Stalin or a Kim Jong Eun, or maybe a Shap Smith. So much for democracy.

Let’s be clear: in a free society citizens have a right to vote – and they also have just as good a right to say the hell with it and stay home. When a highly placed politician like Shap Smith comes out for compulsory voting, it’s time the citizens voted him out.

– John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Mike Empey November 10, 2014 at 11:42 pm

Will his proposal also require us to call the Speaker and Governor “Dear Leader”


Scott Chapman November 11, 2014 at 2:57 am

I am quite happy to see the tide start to change in our great republic of Vermont. I would guess the proponents of such legislation as compulsory voting are not as concerned about low voter turnout as they are with the unexpected toppling of the truly one party political system that dominates the Vermont government

The proposal of compulsory voting astounds me. It really shows the amount of governmental control some people wish to have over our individual lives.

Remember what these same peoples reactions are when voter ID laws are brought up!

Scott Chapman

Burlington Vermont


Alex Knight November 11, 2014 at 1:22 pm

Does this Marxist fanatic not understand that voting is inconsistent with some people’s philosophical beliefs?:



Carl Fyrdman November 11, 2014 at 1:50 pm

I agree that voting is crucial, and our turnouts are disheartening. I further support the idea that election day be made a national holiday.

But… can this man (Shap Smith) truly believe that government should have the power to compel a person to vote, even against their will?? And fine them for disobeying??

The free will and choice of the individual must be made subordinate to the will of the state, so speaks the mind of a “Statist”!

And this man is in charge of the House?


Mike Andreotta November 13, 2014 at 6:50 pm


C’mon Shap! What are you thinking? Are you going to try and make this a felony? When we last met, shook hands, and you come up with this ‘You vill VOTE or DIE!’ Bull shit. Really? Everyone in my family chose not to vote except for me this pass mid-term election. It was primarily because of stupidity like this that they chose not to vote… If you get this type of law passed I can assure you it won’t work to your pleasure. More folks won’t vote and the entire legislature will lose the numbers from the electorate to show any kind of legitimacy in the State of Vermont.

Reminds me of a re-run of Stalag 13…


H. Brooke Paige November 15, 2014 at 7:35 am

The biggest problems we have today is the uninformed voter, those who go to the polls and vote based upon appearance, party, race, creed or color ! The radicals on both ends of the spectrum count on these folks to blindly vote as they are told by political potentates and the liberal media; instead of learning about the issues and the candidates – then voting in the best interest of the state and its citizens.
Shap Smith believes that if citizens are compelled to vote that somehow they will vote for the Democratic dictators forcing them to the polls – foolishness! This “great strategy” would surely backfire and fill the voting booths across the state with angry motivated citizens ready to vote their Democratic “masters” out of office. Hold on, maybe this is a really great idea – Shap may the best thing to happen to Vermont Republicans since Ron Reagan!
The reason that voter participation is so low is two fold:

First many believe that their vote is unimportant (doesn’t matter) – certainly the recent governor’s race should help to dispel this thinking.

Secondly, our education system fails to teach civics, history and/or social studies – most high school students graduate lacking the knowledge to become an informed citizen/voter. If they are given any information it is most often propaganda or indoctrination by liberal socialist that pervade the ranks of public school educators – they come to believe that the are just little cogs in the giant wheel of society; not individuals with the ability to thing for themselves and decide which candidates and policies will best serve themselves and their community. We must work diligently to reverse this trend and educate every Vermonter on the most important element of citizenship – becoming an informed voter!

H. Brooke Paige
Washington, Vermont


Jim Bulmer November 15, 2014 at 2:26 pm

Hey Shap, Now that global warming and gay marriage are out of the way, how about opening up in January with compulsory voting? The heck with ever increasing property taxes, a stagnant economy, declining school enrollment, dumb single payer, plus whatever ails the state. That can wait for the next pre election cycle.


Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post:

About Us

The Ethan Allen Institute is Vermont’s free-market public policy research and education organization. Founded in 1993, we are one of fifty-plus similar but independent state-level, public policy organizations around the country which exchange ideas and information through the State Policy Network.

Latest News

VT Left Wing Media Bias Unmasks Itself

July 24, 2020 By Rob Roper Dave Gram was a long time reporter for the Associated Press, is currently the host of what’s billed on WDEV as a...

Using Guns for Self Defense – 3 Recent Examples

July 24, 2020 By John McClaughry  The Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal last week published eleven news stories about citizens using a firearm to stop a crime. Here are...

FERC ruling on solar subsidies could help Vermont ratepayers

July 21, 2020 By John McClaughry Last Thursday, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission finalized its updates to the Public Utility Regulatory Policies Act (PURPA), in what the majority...

The Moderate Left’s Stand for Free Speech

July 17, 2020 By David Flemming Harper’s Magazine, a long-running monthly magazine of literature, politics, culture, finance, and the arts, is hardly what you would call a ‘politically...

Trump’s Regulatory Bill of Rights

July 16, 2020 by John McClaughry “President Trump [last May] issued an executive order entitled  ‘Regulatory Relief to Support Economic Recovery.’ The executive order includes a regulatory bill...