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jack-nicholson

What if citizens were required to vote?

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While browsing through my roommates collective library I came upon "Schmidt, Shelley, and Bardes , American Government and Politics Today 2007-2008 Edition" A common textbook which she appropriated from her former high school, and in reading I came upon these passages.

 

"Clearly, a representative democracy relies on a politically informed and active citizenry to elect leaders. Yet the United States has a notoriously low rate of voter turnout in elections when compared to other Western democracies. Low voter turnout translates into elected officials who merely represent the interests of the majority of those citizens who actually cast a ballot...

Consider the election of George W. Bush in 2004. In that election, Bush garnered roughly 51 percent of the total popular vote. When voter turnout is considered however, Bush was elected by only 27.6 percent of the voting age population."

 

A very basic question from a very basic textbook, yet the question is relevant, and even more so now that the United States latest Presidential Election is around the corner.

So, do you agree or disagree that every American be required to cast a ballot? Should they also be well informed on issues in order to vote?

Or, what can be done to reverse this trend of low voter turnout?

Edited by jack-nicholson

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Forcing people to vote wouldn't solve the political illiteracy issue. It would simply create a larger chasm between Democrats and Republics. Uninformed voters would simply think "well I've always voted X, so I'm going to vote X" regardless of the candidates and their stances.

 

You can't force people to be politically active and aware.

Edited by _Zj

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If someone really does care about their country and its future, they should be voting on it, regardless of whether or not its compulsory.

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Well, making voting mandatory will solve the turnout problem, but it won't solve the real problem (for which turnout is just a symptom): People are uninformed and don't give a shizzle.

 

I suggest we do something about that first.

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In belgium you are required to go vote

you can still vote blanco or not at all but you have to put a voting paper in the box (or computer equivalent)

 

it's not a bad system

Edited by Egghebrecht

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If citizens became required to vote and if they were really bitter about it, they'd probably just vote against the party that put it into a law as a sort of retaliation.

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I think theking has hit the nail on the head, the general problem in most countries is not just a lack of turnout, but a lack of knowledge from the population being uninformed and ignorant of what's going on around them.

 

Whilst fixing the turnout problem seems a relatively simple one by making it mandatory, that's not to say it will help the system in the long run, as people don't necessarily make informed votes.

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If citizens became required to vote and if they were really bitter about it, they'd probably just vote against the party that put it into a law as a sort of retaliation.

But wouldn't that level out after a few election periods?

 

Probably, but a few elections is all it takes to change the political path of a country.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

Let there be a vote for the 'none of the above'. At least then we have a statistic.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

Let there be a vote for the 'none of the above'. At least then we have a statistic.

 

We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

no it's a vote for i don't give a fudge...

seriously

 

In belgium you can vote blanco (not giving a fudge) or invalid (writing I don't give a fudge on the paper)

both are counted separately and also have a different result (but it's complicated and I cant recall it for certain atm)

 

there you can say that there is a protest vote but calling "not voting" a protest is wishful thinking to say the least...

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

Let there be a vote for the 'none of the above'. At least then we have a statistic.

 

We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Just because someone does not vote, does not mean they don't like any of the candidates. Even if it is to vote for none, you should have to vote.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

Not voting is not voting for both candidates. Double negatives cancel.

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Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.

Not voting is not voting for both candidates. Double negatives cancel.

I want to argue against this, and I'm 99% sure this is wrong; but I can't find the words to do so.

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The opinion of an uninformed voter is of no use to anyone. It doesn't represent anything, it just becomes a statistic to win with.

 

Not voting is a vote in and of itself, a vote against the present candidates.
Not voting isn't giving a statistic, it doesn't look better or worse on any party, it's just a vote that never happened. Edited by Fatalysm

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We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Unless you take a vote to find out why people didn't vote, you've no way of knowing why someone didn't vote, so it's essentially a useless and meaningless figure.

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We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Unless you take a vote to find out why people didn't vote, you've no way of knowing why someone didn't vote, so it's essentially a useless and meaningless figure.

 

They don't feel strongly about either candidate -> They don't vote. What part of this is hard to understand?

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We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Unless you take a vote to find out why people didn't vote, you've no way of knowing why someone didn't vote, so it's essentially a useless and meaningless figure.

 

They don't feel strongly about either candidate -> They don't vote. What part of this is hard to understand?

Only the massive generalisation and presumption. Nothing much apart from that. Considering your own justification was that you're too lazy to register.

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We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Unless you take a vote to find out why people didn't vote, you've no way of knowing why someone didn't vote, so it's essentially a useless and meaningless figure.

 

They don't feel strongly about either candidate -> They don't vote. What part of this is hard to understand?

People are lazy. What's so bad about compulsory voting anyway?

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While there are probably more than enough people who don't feel strongly about any candidate/party, etc., you'll always have people who don't vote because they're lazy, or because they think their vote won't matter. Having a forced vote that allows for a 'blanco' vote as egghe mentioned will at least make sure that people who do have an opinion vote. But especially for a large country like the US it's probably very difficult to impose such a thing. It's actually very easy to vote in Holland. A few days ago me and my parents got letters with papers that give us authorization to vote, and clear direction as to where we can vote and how we can have somebody else vote for us if we are indisposed. I just turned 18, so it's the first year I'm voting, and I didn't have to do any kind of registration. All I have to do is go over to the city hall and vote. (Unfortunately due to the large amount of parties it still takes some time figuring out who to vote for :P)

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For what it's worth, I'm a registered voter and I won't vote in the upcoming election. I don't want to be forced when I don't want either of the candidates in office.

 

Sure I can just write in someone, or vote for a third party, but that is just wasteful of my time when not voting accomplishes the exact same thing.

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We have a statistic. It's called "The percentage of people who don't vote." Some of us don't feel like taking a few hours to register and vote.

Unless you take a vote to find out why people didn't vote, you've no way of knowing why someone didn't vote, so it's essentially a useless and meaningless figure.

 

They don't feel strongly about either candidate -> They don't vote. What part of this is hard to understand?

Only the massive generalisation and presumption. Nothing much apart from that. Considering your own justification was that you're too lazy to register.

 

What generalization? If they cared that strongly about one of the candidates, don't you think they'd vote? The only times this doesn't apply is for convicted felons or people who physically can't make it out to register and vote, and those doesn't make up a significant percentage of the population. Anyway, the reason I'm not registering is that I don't feel strongly about any candidate to spend that much time on it when it's a 45-minute drive to register where I am. Attacking my character doesn't come into this.

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Attacking your character? I regurgitated your own words, before you start getting your back up. :lol:

 

You can't be bothered going and registering ("don't feel like taking a few hours"), and you've declared that over 70% of America don't vote because they don't feel strongly, with absolutely nothing to back it up. Y/N?

 

And even if that were true, is it a good thing that such a huge percentage of people don't take an interest or any form of participation in how their own country is run? I've said it on another topic on here: isn't it the job of a responsible voter to go out and vote for someone, whether they think it will make a difference or not? Because you have a majority of the population taking the same stance, and that's all it would take to swing an election, and not feeling strongly sounds like a way of playing down not being well informed enough to make a vote, unless of course, you just can't be bothered voting.

 

Sure I can just write in someone, or vote for a third party, but that is just wasteful of my time when not voting accomplishes the exact same thing.

okay, but if you made voting compulsory, and you had the huge number of people who wouldn't have otherwise

voted vote for alternative candidates, that could swing the result of the election, and wouldn't that represent the voice of the majority better than if everyone who didn't support the main two front runners staying at home?

Edited by Jethraw

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Sure I can just write in someone, or vote for a third party, but that is just wasteful of my time when not voting accomplishes the exact same thing.

okay, but if you made voting compulsory, and you had the huge number of people who wouldn't have otherwise

voted vote for alternative candidates, that could swing the result of the election, and wouldn't that represent the voice of the majority better than if everyone who didn't support the main two front runners staying at home?

 

aye, I think it would break open the stupid 2 party system quite efficiently in both your countries

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