I have always voted since my first election at age 22 in 1966. I feel that if you do not vote you have no right to complain, surely one group is better than another. I have Government as a subject in my university degree so have always been interested in the process.
I do not know the process but believe there is some mechanism for JWs etc to be exempted from voting. There was once, before I took work as a polling official when I received a please explain for not voting. I was incensed as I had spent the whole day handing out how to vote cards outside the polling station and was sure I had taken the time to vote. I wrote a letter stating this and heard no more.
When I emigrated to NZ, I wrote to the AEC stating I had left Australia and did not intend to return permanently. I would have been happy to vote in Federal elections but have no interest in State or Local anymore.
Within 2 months of arriving in NZ I received a letter telling me to enrol. In NZ it is compulsory to enrol but not to vote. However 79% voted in the last national election (only 69% of 18 to 24 year olds). US has about 55% total in presidential elections.
As a permanent resident in NZ I had to enrol and had the right to vote after one year. Now that I am a NZ citizen, I will only lose the right to vote if I am absent from the country for more than 3 years. Although I return to Australia at least once, usually twice each year, I do not have the right to vote. US citizens never lose the right to vote.
Voting in NZ is so simple. You go to the polling station, there is no one hassling you at the door as it is against the law to hand out voting material after midnight before Polling day and all advertising material must be removed from streets and buildings.
You are given two ballot papers requiring just 2 ticks, one for your local electorate member and one for the party of your choice.
Od course no state elections but local elections are more complicated for city council, regional council and district health board but they are postal (internet is still being discussed as to security). The percentage voting is much lower (mid 40's %)
Must be doing something right as we have the most delightful Prime Minister and even though I did not agree with the views of her predecessors John Key and Bill English I did not dislike them as persons.