Arguments Against Mandatory Voting

Topics: Democracy, Election, Elections Pages: 3 (981 words) Published: September 18, 2013
“Voting should not be compulsory in Australia”

Popular participation is often cited as one of the fundamental principles of democracy. The right to vote being a freedom that has, and continues to be, sought after by people all over the world. Despite the value of many political systems’ movement toward universal suffrage, the few countries that have confused the right to vote, with a requirement to, have arguably deteriorated the significance of this achievement. Australia is part of a considerable minority that implement obligatory voting laws, and of an even smaller subset that enforce them. Although the proponents of mandatory voting will be considered, the incompatibility of compulsory voting with implied freedoms, with broad theories of democracy and the overall inefficacy of producing a more engaged public, serve as perspectives that substantiate the notion that voting should no longer be compulsory in Australia.

The Australian Constitution raises a number of questions about the constitutional validity of mandatory voting. Given this evaluation of an issue so pertinent to political rights, the implications of these challenges coming from a source as authoritative as this cannot be understated. The existence of a legal responsibility to vote can be perceived as incongruous with the implied freedom of political communication that was proved in Australian Capital TV v Commonwealth 1992 and recognised ever since. This inconsistency extends to the right to vote being proved as an implicit right in s7 and s24 of the Constitution, which, as reported by Dr. Anthony Gray, is an entitlement to vote that includes the freedom not to. Whilst advocates for the current system of compulsion may contend that voting is a civic duty, such reasoning can be seen as unconvincing as it fails to acknowledge that abstention is a perfectly valid form of political expression.

Through an analysis of mandatory voting from a wider democratic perspective, the idea that...

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