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WDYT should voting be compulsory?


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#1 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:15 PM

http://www.smh.com.au/opinion/political-ne...0103-2c6hr.html

So this is just a idea flying around qld state elections but do you think voting should be compulsory?

Should a democracy give you a choice to vote or not?

#2 EsmeLennox

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:24 PM

I think it's important that everyone votes, otherwise you end up with a situation who only a small number of people are choosing government and it is not repsentative of the entire population. Unfortunately, you have to make it compulsory to achieve that situation.



#3 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:26 PM

I think you get a more democratic outcome if voting is compulsory, even though the concept of "compulsory voting" seems, on its face, undemocratic ...

Oh ETA, it's not really the voting that's compulsory, it's the turning up to vote...ie getting your name marked off...if you are truly disgusted with politics you can cast an informal vote and no one will be any the wiser...as its anonymous .....but I think turning up to vote is the least a civilised society can ask of its citizens .....

Edited by Lucretia Borgia, 03 January 2013 - 06:31 PM.


#4 CupOfCoffee

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:30 PM

QUOTE (Jemstar @ 03/01/2013, 06:24 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it's important that everyone votes, otherwise you end up with a situation who only a small number of people are choosing government and it is not repsentative of the entire population. Unfortunately, you have to make it compulsory to achieve that situation.


I agree with this.

To maintain democracy, we all have a responsibility (and I think think should continue to be mandated) to vote.  

(I am going to be cynical, I am assuming the LNP believe it will be in their best interest to remove compulsory voting (not necessarily democracy's best interest).

#5 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:33 PM

QUOTE (CupOfCoffee @ 03/01/2013, 07:30 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
(I am going to be cynical, I am assuming the LNP believe it will be in their best interest to remove compulsory voting (not necessarily democracy's best interest).


Yeah I saw this in the comments section mentioned a few times, that basically the ALP benefits for comp voting. Not sure if that's true.

To be honest I'm not sure what I think about this.

#6 Fright bat

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

I guess it comes down to whether you want an 'opt-in' system or an 'opt-out' system.

We currently have an opt-out system. You can choose to not participate in the voting process by casting a vote that you know will not be counted, so it's not like anyone is being forced to cast a legitimate vote against their will.

The problem I see with an opt in system is that it further disenfranchises people who might already find it hard to engage with the political process - the poor, the single parents who have to drag young kids to the booths on voting day, shift workers (who are often also poor), young people, the elderly, people of NESB etc because when you have a zillion other immediate problems (how will I put food on the table, how will I pay rent etc) the political process suddenly seems distant and unimportant. Which is how you end up with the wealthy dominating the process of representation, like you see in the US.

One of the great failings of democracy, in my opinion, is that while it represents the interests of the majority really well, it marginalizes the minority. Even if the majority are making decisions on behalf of the minority that the minority disagree with (eg think of the abortion debate in the US). I don't think a voting process that makes it even harder for the underrepresented minority to cast their vote is a good way forward.


#7 CupOfCoffee

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:36 PM

QUOTE (Drowningnotwaving @ 03/01/2013, 06:33 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Yeah I saw this in the comments section mentioned a few times, that basically the ALP benefits for comp voting. Not sure if that's true.

To be honest I'm not sure what I think about this.


I am not sure who would benefit really, from memory it was a seed planted by Alfred Deakin and in Queensland was introduced I thought by the Liberal party at the time. But that was based on different voter demographics.

Now lets hope they don't mention a gerrymander.

#8 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:42 PM

This comment stood out for me and I have no idea if this is true or not but :

QUOTE
......The original motive of compulsory suffrage was to prevent electoral fraud. Tactics such as voter intimidation, ballot stuffing, and box dropping (trying to get the electoral booth as close to your supporters as possible) only work if voters can be prevented or dissuaded from voting. If its compulsory, then electoral fraud is made much more difficult......


I can see the logic behind this argument but not sure if this reasoning still applies today in this country.

#9 AntiBourgeoisie

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:44 PM

QUOTE (Lucretia Borgia @ 03/01/2013, 07:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think you get a more democratic outcome if voting is compulsory, even though the concept of "compulsory voting" seems, on its face, undemocratic ...


Democracy is a government of the people, formed by consensus of the people. I don't think there's anything to suggest that compulsory voting is undemocratic, in fact I think it's the only way to form a completely democratic government. Democracy is not about people having a right to choose to participate in the political process, it's about actually participating in the political process.
I don't think Australia has the population to support optional voting. In the US, just over 1/3 of the population voted in the recent election - and that was an election that people generally cared about. If something similar happened here, that would make it, what, just over 7 million people in Australia deciding our government?

#10 MrsLexiK

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:44 PM

I don't think it should be compulsory. I am married to a person who only a started doing a real vote last election. He along with plenty of others going around only mark there name off.

#11 Alacritous~Andy

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:46 PM

QUOTE (AvadaKedavra @ 03/01/2013, 06:34 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I guess it comes down to whether you want an 'opt-in' system or an 'opt-out' system.

We currently have an opt-out system. You can choose to not participate in the voting process by casting a vote that you know will not be counted, so it's not like anyone is being forced to cast a legitimate vote against their will.

The problem I see with an opt in system is that it further disenfranchises people who might already find it hard to engage with the political process - the poor, the single parents who have to drag young kids to the booths on voting day, shift workers (who are often also poor), young people, the elderly, people of NESB etc because when you have a zillion other immediate problems (how will I put food on the table, how will I pay rent etc) the political process suddenly seems distant and unimportant. Which is how you end up with the wealthy dominating the process of representation, like you see in the US.

One of the great failings of democracy, in my opinion, is that while it represents the interests of the majority really well, it marginalizes the minority. Even if the majority are making decisions on behalf of the minority that the minority disagree with (eg think of the abortion debate in the US). I don't think a voting process that makes it even harder for the underrepresented minority to cast their vote is a good way forward.


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#12 Lucrezia Borgia

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:51 PM

QUOTE (AntiBourgeoisie @ 03/01/2013, 07:44 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Democracy is a government of the people, formed by consensus of the people. I don't think there's anything to suggest that compulsory voting is undemocratic, in fact I think it's the only way to form a completely democratic government. Democracy is not about people having a right to choose to participate in the political process, it's about actually participating in the political process.
I don't think Australia has the population to support optional voting. In the US, just over 1/3 of the population voted in the recent election - and that was an election that people generally cared about. If something similar happened here, that would make it, what, just over 7 million people in Australia deciding our government?

Sorry, must have been a badly worded post....I support compulsory voting...I think it gives a more democratic outcome, even if, on the face of it, some might perceive the notion of compulsory voting to be "undemocratic" .in the more colloquial sense of the word...."it's a free country, why should I have to vote" that type of thing.....but yes, with freedom comes responsibility, and I believe we all have the responsibility to participate in the political process, even if it is just turning up to get your name marked off (but I would hope people took it more seriously than that)

#13 TenYears

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:52 PM

QUOTE
I don't think it should be compulsory. I am married to a person who only a started doing a real vote last election. He along with plenty of others going around only mark there name off.


Just turning up is fine (in terms of a discussion about whether you should have to turn up or not).  As long as nobody knows who is voting and who is just getting their name marked off, politicians have to campaign to everybody.  As soon as non compulsory voting gives a picture of the demographics of voting, they can start just campaigning to those who vote and as covered by above posters, that can lead to marginalised demographics becoming even more marginalised.

I am vehemently pro compulsory voting.

Edited by Eight.years, 03 January 2013 - 06:54 PM.


#14 SeaPrincess

Posted 03 January 2013 - 06:55 PM

QUOTE (Lucretia Borgia @ 03/01/2013, 04:26 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think you get a more democratic outcome if voting is compulsory, even though the concept of "compulsory voting" seems, on its face, undemocratic ...

This. If it was only the people who cared enough to vote, it wouldn't be representative of the whole population, as seen in the US, where only a fraction of the population actually votes.

I can't actually see how it would benefit either of the two major parties to make it non-compulsory, only the smaller parties that have a single or very few main issues as their basis.

#15 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:00 PM

QUOTE (SeaPrincess @ 03/01/2013, 07:55 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
This. If it was only the people who cared enough to vote, it wouldn't be representative of the whole population, as seen in the US, where only a fraction of the population actually votes.


But isn't the flip side of that is people who don't care turn up to vote to avoid a fine, and their vote isn't one based on issues rather obligation?

#16 MrsLexiK

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:02 PM

QUOTE (Eight.years @ 03/01/2013, 07:52 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just turning up is fine (in terms of a discussion about whether you should have to turn up or not).  As long as nobody knows who is voting and who is just getting their name marked off, politicians have to campaign to everybody.  As soon as non compulsory voting gives a picture of the demographics of voting, they can start just campaigning to those who vote and as covered by above posters, that can lead to marginalised demographics becoming even more marginalised.

I am vehemently pro compulsory voting.


I do see both sides and it is only since being with my DH that I have changed my views, as in having discussions with him about it has opened my eyes to a different thought. Previous I used to be all for the system we had, I have also spoken to Americans who just did not want to vote because in their eyes there was no one to vote for, they couldn't believe we had to be registered to vote and actually turn up to at least mark our name off.
I also think the parties have a fair idea of the type of people that just mark their names off and for who votes for who. Standing in line to get your name marked off isn't really opting out IMO, because if you don't at least opt into that part of it you will be fined.

#17 TenYears

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:02 PM

QUOTE
But isn't the flip side of that is people who don't care turn up to vote to avoid a fine, and their vote isn't one based on issues rather obligation?


They don't have to vote at all.  They just have to turn up.  It is knowing that everybody goes to the polls that makes politicians have to campaign to everybody.

#18 RedBob

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:03 PM

Having lived in a country, Ireland, with optional voting, I am even more firmly wedded to compulsory voting. What I saw time and time again was that the electorates with the highest turnout were always the rich ones, and the poorer electorates, which would be hardest hit by changes, were so alienated that they CBF voting. And so you end up with a government voted in by the wealthier end of society, who are therefore going to be more in tune with what benefits them, rather than what benefits everyone.

Plus, even if you wanted to vote, you often couldn't. There was no such thing as absentee voting, and since the ballot was always held on a Thursday, many students couldn't get home from uni to vote, especially if they came from the country. You didn't have a choice of voting places, you went to the one you were allocated, to make it more difficult still.

And finally, we all live in this society. We all have to obey laws and pay tax as part of that. voting for me is simply one more responsibility of being part of society.

#19 Feral_Pooks

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:08 PM

For sure compulsory voting is better, it's a no brainer.

Now, how to make it so people like old Newman don't get into office, ah, now there is a ponderance worth pondering...

#20 fancie

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:08 PM



I don't have a problem with compulsory voting at all.   I think it is a wonderful opportunity in that having to vote (or at least turn up to the electoral booth) encourages people to think about their vote even if it is only in a small way.

It is my belief that even those who turn up but choose to render their vote invalid whether by incorrectly filling out the form or leaving it blank are in fact voting too - they are just voting for none of the people standing for election.  

Compulsory voting should never be repealed in my opinion.

#21 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:10 PM

QUOTE (Eight.years @ 03/01/2013, 08:02 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
They don't have to vote at all.  They just have to turn up.  It is knowing that everybody goes to the polls that makes politicians have to campaign to everybody.


Doesn't this make a moot point? Why should someone who has no interest in voting have to turn up (normally at personal expense) to get their name crossed off?

#22 MintyBiscuit

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:12 PM

Until we bring in a system where you have to pass an IQ test to vote, my preferred option is compulsory voting wink.gif

Seriously though, I think compulsory voting does result in a fairer system overall, even if it doesn't seem that way at times. As has been mentioned, non compulsory voting often leads to those most in need of a voice not getting a chance to have one, and those with all the power and influence simply being able to exert more of it. Our political process in this country is already too caught up in rich lobbyists, and I think optional voting would only make it worse.

There is also the money that would be wasted. Sure, it costs a lot to hold an election and campaign, but can you imagine how much more time, money and effort would be spent if step one was actually getting people to go out and vote? Just look at the US where there is a huge amount spent on simply getting people registered and voting. There is so little time spent on policy in our campaigns as it is - if politicians had to spend more of that time convincing people to vote, policy discussion would suffer.

#23 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:24 PM

QUOTE (HollyOllyOxenfree @ 03/01/2013, 08:12 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Just look at the US where there is a huge amount spent on simply getting people registered and voting. There is so little time spent on policy in our campaigns as it is - if politicians had to spend more of that time convincing people to vote, policy discussion would suffer.


The US system is so bloody creepy to me. I can't really describe how weirded out I am by the hysterical drone-like crowds clapping and cheering they do in those big halls. It's terrifying to me.  TBH those few people that hang out at the winner/loser rooms for the announcements at our elections make me feel a bit sad for them.

#24 AntiBourgeoisie

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:26 PM

QUOTE (Drowningnotwaving @ 03/01/2013, 08:10 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Doesn't this make a moot point? Why should someone who has no interest in voting have to turn up (normally at personal expense) to get their name crossed off?



It's because the people who 'donkey vote' usually don't do it because they disbelieve in voting, they do it because they are making a point that there is no one they wish to vote for. (Of course that's a generalisation).
Take asylum seekers as an issue, for example. The two major parties have pretty much the same policies on this. So, if you don't believe in mandatory detention, who do you vote for? (The Greens). But if you don't like the Greens because (for example) you think their economic policies are not adequate - then there's no one to vote for, because there is no party that offers both a good economic track record and a more humane policy on asylum seekers. (FWIW I personally have no issues with the Greens and economics). So you cast an informal vote, to lodge your complaint that you don't feel there is anyone worth taking office.
I personally think that there is a problem with democracy at all in this regard. Democracy might be better than tyranny, but if there is no one who is offering policies that you like, then the whole democratic process is worthless to you, because it is essentially a tyranny with a small amount of choice, rather than a tyranny with no choice.
This is, I think, why compulsory voting is important. In a close election, parties need to differentiate themselves and can actually 'earn' votes from people who would otherwise cast informal votes. They can also attract the attention of those who, through apathy or lack of knowledge or interest in the candidates, might donkey vote.

Edited by AntiBourgeoisie, 04 January 2013 - 11:44 AM.


#25 Drowningnotwaving

Posted 03 January 2013 - 07:31 PM

I would think that people who donkey vote do so because they don't care or don't know either way what does it matter if they don't turn up? The issue is no one has to vote, they can turn up and get their name crossed off and walk away or not turn up and get a fine. Not sure I'm happy with anyone getting a fine for not voting.




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