Friday, 4 January 2013

Compulsory Voting ... or not?

There has been recent chatter around the Queensland LNP regarding removing the (State election only) compulsion to vote (or at least, the compulsion to turn up to the polling booth and be handed a ballot paper), that has caused a holiday-season furore amongst commentators from all political walks of life.

It appears that those of the Left are more inclined to endorse compulsion, supported (somewhat surprisingly) by some from the Right.  See for example Senator Barnaby Joyce - ABC News.

Arguments in favour of compulsory voting:
  1. You can "take the pulse" of a nation, and thereby obtain an accurate depiction of the majority's wishes;
  2. It is non-discriminatory - one vote really means one value;
  3. The poor and otherwise disenfranchised get their say;
  4. Policies of the major parties are likely to be much more in tune with majority values, as opposed to greater fragmentation where a major party is only pandering to its own constituency;
  5. If voting was optional, as a corollary to (4), this would encourage extremist parties to seek endorsement of their own constituencies - think the Nazi party or extreme Marxists; and
  6. Inevitably, we will end up like the USA where less than 50% of the population bother to vote.

Arguments in favour of voluntary voting:
  1. No-one should be compelled to do anything;
  2. Poor and disenfranchised people are presumed to be fundamentally stupid, and will only vote to ensure the continuation or increase of their entitlements;
  3. Ergo, the poor and disenfranchised should be discouraged from voting, which will have an adverse effect upon the votes raised for socially responsible political parties and individuals, and ensuring increased conservative electoral success; and
  4. We end up like the USA.

As a fair and balanced commentator on life, the universe, and everything, it is quite clear to me that our right to compulsory voting must be maintained and fought for with every weapon in our arsenal - we must protect our rights from those who (for whatever nefarious reasons) wish to denude us of those hard-fought human rights.

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