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Debates Forum

Debates Forum

  1. 29 Dec '10 14:27
    In Australia, voting is compulsory by law, and those who don't attend a polling station are fined. Forms of compulsory voting also exist in several Latin American countries. In such countries, despite it being compulsory to cast a ballot, abstention remains possible because blank or spoilt ballots may be cast; hence, those who disapprove of the available options are not obliged to support one of them.

    Two questions:

    1) If one accepts that it's legitimate for the state to require citizens to perform other civic duties such as jury service or paying taxes, is it legitimate likewise to make participation in the political process compulsory?

    2) If compulsory voting was instituted in countries in Europe and North America, what would the effect be on the outcome of elections?
  2. 29 Dec '10 14:32
    1) No, because there is no conceivable national interest in having people who don't want to vote voting.

    2) It already exists in Belgium (and maybe others I don't know of). It results in parties with a less loyal and lower educated electorate receiving a bigger share of the vote. Because people who don't really want to vote tend to be less informed, this is an undesirable distortion of the electoral process.
  3. 29 Dec '10 14:35
    Originally posted by KazetNagorra
    1) No, because there is no conceivable national interest in having people who don't want to vote voting.

    2) It already exists in Belgium (and maybe others I don't know of). It results in parties with a less loyal and lower educated electorate receiving a bigger share of the vote. Because people who don't really want to vote tend to be less informed, this is an undesirable distortion of the electoral process.
    After the last three presidential elections, I dare say that the last thing the US voter can be accused of is being informed.
  4. 29 Dec '10 14:36
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    In Australia, voting is compulsory by law, and those who don't attend a polling station are fined. Forms of compulsory voting also exist in several Latin American countries. In such countries, despite it being compulsory to cast a ballot, abstention remains possible because blank or spoilt ballots may be cast; hence, those who disapprove of the available o ...[text shortened]... n countries in Europe and North America, what would the effect be on the outcome of elections?
    Why not? I mean, the you are state property. They can force you to do anything they so desire, no?
  5. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    29 Dec '10 14:37
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    In Australia, voting is compulsory by law, and those who don't attend a polling station are fined. Forms of compulsory voting also exist in several Latin American countries. In such countries, despite it being compulsory to cast a ballot, abstention remains possible because blank or spoilt ballots may be cast; hence, those who disapprove of the available o ...[text shortened]... n countries in Europe and North America, what would the effect be on the outcome of elections?
    1) Legitimate? Perhaps. But it's a bad idea. Voting is making your voice heard in government. If you don't want your voice heard or are indifferent, why should you be forced to exercise that power?

    2) In the US at least, it would help the Democrats; since the communities with the lowest turnout (i.e., zoned out youth) is a Democrat friendly demographic, while the highest turnout demographic (elderly patriots) is a Republican friendly demographic.
  6. Standard member sh76
    Civis Americanus Sum
    29 Dec '10 14:38
    Originally posted by whodey
    After the last three presidential elections, I dare say that the last thing the US voter can be accused of is being informed.
    I don't get it. are you saying an informed electorate would have voted for Gore, Kerry and McCain?
  7. 29 Dec '10 16:31 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by sh76
    I don't get it. are you saying an informed electorate would have voted for Gore, Kerry and McCain?
    You have a point there. With such choices, what does it really matter how "informed" you are? The fix is in and it is courtesy of the two party system.
  8. 29 Dec '10 18:19 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    In Australia, voting is compulsory by law, and those who don't attend a polling station are fined. Forms of compulsory voting also exist in several Latin American countries. In such countries, despite it being compulsory to cast a ballot, abstention remains possible because blank or spoilt ballots may be cast; hence, those who disapprove of the available o n countries in Europe and North America, what would the effect be on the outcome of elections?
    1) It may be legitimate, given they are capable of implementing such law through conventional means, but its hardly something desirable if your intention is to have competent governance. My experience is that many people are adamantly hostile to politics or are completely ignorant about it, and forcing them to participate in elections is usually a recipe for disaster as these people will always cast protest votes, electing extremists or candidates who are not truly committed to the serious exercise of politics. In the last Brazilian elections for example, a comedian who was barely literate was elected federal deputy, such are the consequences of requiring the ignorant and/or the indifferent to vote.

    2) It would make a mockery of Parliament/Congress, it would ultimately result in the subversion of the political process, as legislatures would be inundated with extremists or clowns posing as serious representatives.
  9. 29 Dec '10 20:55
    What....A......Minute.

    Are you telling me that in Australia these people HAVE to vote or get fined?

    And their vote...it counts the same as everyone elses?


    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XI6DpthJLVE&feature=related
  10. 29 Dec '10 21:28
    Originally posted by whodey
    You have a point there. With such choices, what does it really matter how "informed" you are? The fix is in and it is courtesy of the two party system.
    Yes, they should change the constitution to allow a multi-party system!

    Wait a minute...
  11. 29 Dec '10 23:29
    Politicians have been raising the dead and forcing them to vote for years. Why should the living get off the hook?
  12. 29 Dec '10 23:45
    Originally posted by dryhump
    Politicians have been raising the dead and forcing them to vote for years. Why should the living get off the hook?
    Didn't G.K. Chesterton say tradition was the democracy of the dead?

    More to the point, compulsory voting doesn't actually mean you are forced to vote; it means you are forced to attend the polling station. As outlined in my original post, abstention is still possible, as you can cast a blank or spoiled ballot.
  13. 29 Dec '10 23:54
    Originally posted by Teinosuke
    Didn't G.K. Chesterton say tradition was the democracy of the dead?

    More to the point, compulsory voting doesn't actually mean you are forced to vote; it means you are forced to attend the polling station. As outlined in my original post, abstention is still possible, as you can cast a blank or spoiled ballot.
    What is the point of forcing someone to attend if they don't need to vote or can spoil their ballot paper?
  14. 30 Dec '10 00:20
    Originally posted by adramforall
    What is the point of forcing someone to attend if they don't need to vote or can spoil their ballot paper?
    Because it means people have to make an active decision to withhold their vote, rather than just doing so out of apathy or laziness.
  15. Subscriber Wajoma
    Die Cheeseburger
    30 Dec '10 00:30
    Originally posted by adramforall
    What is the point of forcing someone to attend if they don't need to vote or can spoil their ballot paper?
    You're in the wrong place adram, this board is full of busybody control freaks that don't know what freedom is, they feel they are extra qualified for running other peoples lives although not one of them can come up with an actual basis for this supposed qualification. They live for 'compulsory' and 'force', the concept that man should be able to live free from force is alien to them, don't even bother mentioning 'voluntary'.