Compulsory voting in democracies

Topics: Democracy, Voting, Election Pages: 5 (1274 words) Published: February 9, 2014
 Aristotle once said, “In a democracy the poor will have more power than the rich, because there are more of them, and the will of the majority is supreme. ‘ Thus I stand in firm affirmation of the resolution Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

To clarify I offer the following definitions courtesy of Oxford Dictionaries Compulsory – something that must be done
Ought- moral obligation
Voting-  the act of stating a preference to determine the outcome of something Democracy: a system of government by the whole population, or all eligible members of a state Value: Morality

According to the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy, morality can be defined as “a code of conduct that, given specified conditions, would be put forward by all rational persons”

Rational – in accordance with reason or logic

My value criterion is maximizing societal welfare.

which ensure that the needs of the majority are being prioritized which in terms of moral integrity outweighs the will of individuals.

.           Observation 1. The European Court of Human rights, ruled in 1971 that the practice of compulsory voting is not in violation of fundamental freedoms. This is because compulsory voting systems do not require people to actually vote and it is the fact that attendance at the polls which is compulsory. In X v Austria 1971, the ECHR ruled hat compulsory voting did not amount to a violation of the right to "freedom of thought conscience and religion", provided that only attendance is compulsory and that  voters are free to submit a blank or spoiled ballot. Therefore, according to this card based on the argument any case based on the argument that compulsory voting violates human rights is invalid

            Contention1 : Low voter turnout is synonymous with underrepresentation which engenders inequality

Harvard Law Review,

.Butthe most serious questions arisenot from the sheer number of citizens whose voices are not counted, butfrom the fact that certain groups are underrepresented. Partly because of disparities in turnout rates by demographic categories, thecenter of political gravity has shifted toward the wealthiest whites Americans. Government may not be giving adequate consideration to the priorities of the poor or of racial minorities.

In addition a study by University of College London found

The fact that lower turnout means increasingly unequal turnout is troubling, because those least likely to turn out are overwhelmingly drawn from the least privilegedsocial groups in a polity. Thus, The IPPR reportsnotes that though ‘socio-economic status -whether measured by income, class or education – is not as significant a factor as age indeterminingwhether a person will vote or not, has nevertheless become an increasingly significant factor– at least in the UK. ….although there has been some decline in turnout among all income categories since 1964, the decline is most rapid for those with the lowest income’. (Kearney and Rogers, 12)So, it looks as though those people who do least well in our societies are least likely to vote; and in what seems to be a vicious circle, those least likely to vote are least likely to attract sympathetic attention from politicians eager to get elected or reelected.Soinequalities in turnout are troublingthusthey suggest a vicious circle in which themost marginal members of society are further marginalized.

(IPPR institute of public policy research)

Thus we can see that underrepresentation at the polls results in a decrease in expression of voter preferences from the lower classes. And by minimizing their voice we lose sight of the needs of those who make up the majority of any democratic society, If this issue with those who have a low socio economic status continues, thelong-standing, and substantial racial and gender discrimination that accompanies these specific non voters, will have detrimental effects to societal welfare. In order to maximize societal...
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