As poltical apathy and ignorance contiue to spread in America, giving us truly one of the least effective working democracies on the planet, I'm always interested in ideas to turn the tide. I haven't seen this one prosposed anywhere before. We should institute a $25 penalty for each 18+ year-old American citizen who chooses not to vote every year. Why not? 1) "Not voting" is a matter of personal choice. I disagree. Voting should be seen as a more important RESPONSIBILITY of democratic citizens than either military service or jury juty, both of which we require of people in certain circumstances. 2) Too tough to enforce. Not really. We just turn over the names to the DMV, and the fine gets handled like a traffic ticket. Failure to pay will lead to license suspension. 3) Mitigating circumstances, such as medical emergency, work, etc. No problem: we excuse people from jury duty for such things, so a doctor's note will work here. 4) Toughest on the poor, who are also the least likely to vote. True and true, but "positive reinforcement" to get these same people to vote (and thus help themselves) has not been working. Other potential criticisms? Other ideas? By the way, this could be incorporated with new ideas to make voting easier using new technologies. Easy + mandatory = renewed democracy.