Politics, Elections, & the Presidency: a Video Conversation with Thomas Jefferson
In 1816, you wrote to John Taylor, Republican U.S. Senator from South Carolina, “Election is a fundamental member in the structure of government.” Some modern countries require voters to go to the polls. What would you think of a law in the United States that made voting mandatory?

        back to questions
Answer:
I should not like to think that as the American people, who were first and foremost upon this globe to assume the right of voting as not only a privilege but a natural right, that we would ever neglect that natural right. And, therefore rather than to have any government require, to pronounce it as mandatory, I hope the American people will recognize that it is their natural right to engage themselves every year in the putting forth of a vote. Certainly if they do not engage themselves in their natural rights, then they should recognize, as history showeth, they will lose these rights.