Electoral reform

There’s been talk this week of electoral reform, with the biggest attention focused on introducing voluntary voting, and excluding prisoners from voting. I haven’t really made up my mind up on either issue. I suppose that compulsory voting does kind of contradict the nature of a liberal democracy, although Australians already do, to an extent, enjoy voluntary voting. There is nothing ‘compulsory’ about the actual voting process. The only compulsory part is registering and then showing up at the local polling booth. What one then does with the ballot paper is completely up to them. I guess the real issue here is whether we should have compulsory enrolment.


3 Responses to Electoral reform

  1. XmarkX says:

    I’m going to blog this at some length, Jim, in lieu of a comment.

  2. Victor Tse says:

    Abstention is a recognized expression of a valid opinion in most fora. Why should it not be so here ?
    Because it might represent a rejection of the process? Or its participants?? The pollies must be so afraid that they are incapable of holding the attention of a majority (and that there might therefore be some doubt about their relevance or validity) that they must mandate (on pain of violence) our participation and can thereby comfort themselves with the thought that they are OBVIOUSLY legitimate….

  3. aurivorous says:

    I’d have to say that I’m for compulsory voting. Some people might say that compulsory voting is undemocratic because democracy is about the peoples’ choice, and if people don’t want to vote then they shouldn’t have to, but that is a pretty misguided statement. Democracy doesn’t mean that you get to do whatever you want. It’s a system that elects the government through the people, and that government will then proceed to rule the state as it wishes (within the law of course). Therefore, if the government decided to make compulsory voting law, then that would be no less democratic than if it did so with voluntary voting.

    In fact, I would have to say that it is even more democratic than voluntary voting. Why? Well, given that democracy is based on the vote and that the elected government should be the government that the majority of the people want, then not to have everyone vote means that the democratic system is weakened; not voting means that the government could be elected with minimal support. Technically, voluntary voting would allow a government to be elected with only one person voting (not gonna happen, but you get my drift).

    Arguing against compulsory voting is the claim that forcing those people who do not care about politics will lead to them into making donkey votes. However, when people are made to vote they tend to not want to waste it and so they take notice of politics. If they really have an objection to voting, they could abstain when they got there as you said Jim, and that Victor, would have to recognised as an expression of opinion.

    Finally, I think the electoral situation in the US also supports my argument. That is to say, the very fact that there were multiple registration campaigns (Such as those run by MTV, celebrities or individual millionares) of multi-million dollar size is an argument against voluntary voting in itself. The millions upon millions of dollars that were spent on those (failed) campaigns could have so easily been better allocated on worthwhile causes or economically advantageous areas.

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