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Compulsory voting - good or bad?

...on serious topics that don't fit anywhere else at present.
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stevenw888
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Joined: July 16th, 2010, 12:48 pm

Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#1 Postby stevenw888 » May 24th, 2017, 12:52 pm

As a past resident of Belgium, I know that voting there is compulsory. A failure to vote inflicts a fine on the non-voter. Be interesting to see what would happen if such a law were invoked here!
I would generally be in favour of such a law here, but for the practical difficulties.
If the state was to fine a non-voter, how would the state go about collecting this fine? It would require another level of bureaucrats to administer.
I feel the same way about people who fail to attend a doctor's or hospital appointment. If they haven't notified the doctor, they should be fined. But how to collect such a fine?
"There are old pilots and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots." - From the film "Top Gun"

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Alan H
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#2 Postby Alan H » May 24th, 2017, 1:34 pm

stevenw888 wrote:As a past resident of Belgium, I know that voting there is compulsory. A failure to vote inflicts a fine on the non-voter. Be interesting to see what would happen if such a law were invoked here!
I would generally be in favour of such a law here, but for the practical difficulties.
If the state was to fine a non-voter, how would the state go about collecting this fine? It would require another level of bureaucrats to administer.
I feel the same way about people who fail to attend a doctor's or hospital appointment. If they haven't notified the doctor, they should be fined. But how to collect such a fine?
It's a difficult one... As with many interventions, there may well be unintended consequences. With DNAs, it may dissuade some from going in the first place just in case they think they might forget (as many do), deciding they cannot take the risk of having to pay what could be for them a big fine. With fining for not voting, it may mean many do not register to vote.
Alan Henness

There are three fundamental questions for anyone advocating Brexit:

1. What, precisely, are the significant and tangible benefits of leaving the EU?
2. What damage to the UK and its citizens is an acceptable price to pay for those benefits?
3. Which ruling of the ECJ is most persuasive of the need to leave its jurisdiction?

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Dave B
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#3 Postby Dave B » May 24th, 2017, 6:46 pm

Alan H wrote:
stevenw888 wrote:As a past resident of Belgium, I know that voting there is compulsory. A failure to vote inflicts a fine on the non-voter. Be interesting to see what would happen if such a law were invoked here!
I would generally be in favour of such a law here, but for the practical difficulties.
If the state was to fine a non-voter, how would the state go about collecting this fine? It would require another level of bureaucrats to administer.
I feel the same way about people who fail to attend a doctor's or hospital appointment. If they haven't notified the doctor, they should be fined. But how to collect such a fine?
It's a difficult one... As with many interventions, there may well be unintended consequences. With DNAs, it may dissuade some from going in the first place just in case they think they might forget (as many do), deciding they cannot take the risk of having to pay what could be for them a big fine. With fining for not voting, it may mean many do not register to vote.



Yes, this can get quite Big Brotherish if, say, registeting with the NHS, applying for a driving licence etc, etc automatically puts your name on the voting list. However I do think voting should be compulsory but the option to abstain be on the ballot papers. With over a certain percentage of abstentions the election should be declared invalid. That would sharpen the political mind I think.

I wonder what the Australian experience is, IIRC they have compulsory voting and with abstention available.

Personally, at the moment, I have no idea how I will vote - I would go for abstention but may yet add, "None of the above" to my paper! I cannot think of a single person in parliament, in any party, whom I would wish to see in No 10.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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coffee
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#4 Postby coffee » May 24th, 2017, 9:48 pm

I do think voting should be compulsory but the option to abstain be on the ballot papers. With over a certain percentage of abstentions the election should be declared invalid. That would sharpen the political mind I think.


I don't think voting should be compulsory but I would like the option to abstain/none of the the above on the ballot papers, that would be very interesting

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animist
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#5 Postby animist » May 25th, 2017, 9:56 am

following on from Coffee's comment, my wife believes in compulsory voting but that there should be a box saying something like "None of the candidates". This answers, I suppose, my objections to the idea of forcing people to vote, but there might be odd results. As filling in this option would presumably count as voting, the number completing this box could sometimes represent the largest number of voters in a particular constituency! Would there really be much point in that? Dave thinks that such elections would be cancelled, but surely this would not work - the voters who strongly supported the winning candidate would be furious at not being represented.

I don't believe in compulsory voting. The vote is a right and a privilege, and it indicates commitment to the democratic system, but I don't think it should be a duty. Apart from the principle of freedom to opt out, I think compulsion to vote might distort the value of elections, because unwilling voters might simply put their x next to candidates in a frivolous way, possibly as a protest against having to turn out.

The issue is surely different from steven's case of people missing medical appointments. They made the choice to make the appointment and they should honour it unless of course they have a reason, in which case they can cancel, as he says; I do think that charges might be appropriate if they consistently don't, perhaps as a condition of further appointments.

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Dave B
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#6 Postby Dave B » May 25th, 2017, 11:25 am

Animist said:
Dave thinks that such elections would be cancelled, but surely this would not work - the voters who strongly supported the winning candidate would be furious at not being represented.


OK, if more voted an abstention that any other option . . . Then a re-election would be democratic. But if 49% voted to abstain that is still a message that might get through to the polituciabs. Then again, the vote for Brexit was quite close and is touted as a triumph rather than a squeaking through. A 1% win is still a win I suppose.
"Look forward; yesterday was a lesson, if you did not learn from it you wasted it."
Me, 2015

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animist
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Re: Compulsory voting - good or bad?

#7 Postby animist » May 25th, 2017, 6:28 pm

Dave B wrote:Animist said:
Dave thinks that such elections would be cancelled, but surely this would not work - the voters who strongly supported the winning candidate would be furious at not being represented.


OK, if more voted an abstention that any other option . . . Then a re-election would be democratic. But if 49% voted to abstain that is still a message that might get through to the polituciabs. Then again, the vote for Brexit was quite close and is touted as a triumph rather than a squeaking through. A 1% win is still a win I suppose.
another election would not be practical really, would it, whatever the majority of the abstainers? Our general election contests all happen on the same day, and how could a few of them be rerun? And anyway, the same result would be likely!

You are right about abstainers sending a message, though; there could be room for suggestions, I suppose


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