You're asking about two different elements of the traditional reformed acronym TULIP:
Unconditional Election - That Christ's elect are called without regard to their own merits.
Irresistible Grace - That the elect are drawn to Christ despite the fact that their sin nature keeps them away and this drawing is actually irresistible.
The crux of your question is not the unconditional election part. You can sort of have that without the Irresistible grace part, but it makes the election virtually meaningless (We'll get to why in a minute).
Irresistible grace is not a method of turning humanity into automatons. It is however, God's way of drawing his people to himself. God is an all powerful being, the fact that we do not desire and worship him is an unnatural state. Much like all things desire to revert to their natural state, God providing even the ability for it to become so causes a human to revert to said state. This is much like shorting a circuit. Electrons are content to mill about in their circuit, but the moment a circuit is shorted they make a beeline for the short. This is what Irresistible grace is like. You're milling about aimlessly, but then the most direct path to fulfillment is opened and you make a beeline for it, without even thinking.
This is how it works on a spiritual level. However, what is apparent in the mind of the person is that it just makes sense, or you feel do down at out that you have no where else to turn. You don't necessarily feel the tug. It just happens. Although some people do feel it more than others (Lewis famously described it as "being dragged kicking and screaming").
I said something at the beginning though that is probably controversial, but it's true. Without Irresistible Grace election is both meaningless and is either impossible or makes God ignorant or impotent. Let me unpack that just a bit. If we start with the assumption that God calls those that he elected, then either he is willingly calling people that he knows will not come or all of those that he calls will come. If not all of the people that he calls do not come, then why does he call them in the first place? If all of the people that he calls do come, don't we have to include that the call itself is compulsive?
If not all that come at God's call then what is the meaning of that call? Isn't it effectively meaningless? Can some come that are not called? are all called? Do those that come when called have some kind of merit that distinguishes those from that that do not? (I'm asking a lot of rhetorical questions, hope that's ok)...
Anyways, in summary: Those that are called must be drawn irresistibly or the call is both meaningless and makes God out to be impotent or ignorant.