Clarence Page has a column riffing off a study I discussed in some detail recently, about what Democrats and Republicans know (or don't know) about current affairs and political issues. The Page column goes further, however, in connecting what people know with voting and breaking partisan deadlock by expanding the electorate with more moderate folks.
The column itself is worth reading and his argument, while a bit simplistic, makes perfectly good sense. Of course it can't happen here, unlike Australia, but if everyone was required by law to vote, it would result in a more balanced electorate -- if by balanced you mean a whole lot of folks forced to vote who really don't give a damn and don't care and are largely indifferent (which is very very different than being independent or non-partisan).
So should everyone be required to vote? Only if everyone is required to read a good newspaper. As Gore Vidal said: "Half of the American people have never read a newspaper. Half never voted for President. One hopes it is the same half."