Thursday, March 31, 2005

Against compulsory voting

A month or so ago, Jonathan Hunt gave up the Speaker's Chair to Margaret Wilson. And now, after 39 years of service, he has finally left the House. His parting suggestion? Compulsory voting. Despite being an ardent democrat, I'm not sure that I like this idea; it seems to me that the freedom to vote must also include the freedom not to vote - and this goes beyond simply allowing people to spoil their ballots in imaginative (and unimaginative) ways, to allowing them to choose to have nothing at all to do with the process, lest they be sullied with the implication that they supported any of the candidates. And while I am concerned about declining turnout, the answer there is for politicians to work to reconnect people with formal politics. Electoral turnout is an important indicator of the health of the overall system (as seen in the US, and more recently the UK); allowing politicians to boost it simply by passing a law is simply cheating.


I agree. If we want to meaningfully encourage democracy we have to make it possible for people to formulate a self identity as an empowered political actor whose views matter. Coercion and enforced participation in the process is the opposite of empowerment

And its a freedom of expression issue too. If you have to vote for someone who doesn't actually represent your views, or participate in a process you inherently are opposed to, then your freedom to express your views is compromised and distorted.

Posted by Amanda : 3/31/2005 11:25:00 AM

Doesnt sound like a paradox that is impossible to solve...

You could put a "none of the above" on the ballot and use it to see if there should be invalidated elections or whatever.

Posted by Genius : 3/31/2005 01:18:00 PM

Being able to post for or against would be a way to mobilise the disgruntled.

There are plenty of those who don't care who gets in as long as it's not "That lot".

Posted by Anonymous : 3/31/2005 04:38:00 PM

I'd prefer to focus on the positive rather than the negative, but other htan that have no real objection to a "no confidence" vote. But I still object strongly to the idea that people should be forced to make one by threat of legal sanction.

Posted by Idiot/Savant : 3/31/2005 06:30:00 PM

Honestly, I believe that elections in the US wouls start to have much less accurate turnouts in the polls due to the sickeningly high amount of uneducated and apathetic people voting. Anonymous does not forgive.

Posted by Anonymous : 12/08/2006 08:13:00 PM