The Instigator
salam.morcos
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
FullMetal.Alchemist
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points

August Tournament - Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
salam.morcos
Voting Style: Open with Elo Restrictions Point System: Select Winner
Started: 8/1/2015 Category: Politics
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,034 times Debate No: 78294
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (20)
Votes (4)

 

salam.morcos

Pro

This debate is for round 1 of August Beginner's Tournament: Salam vs. FullMetal

Resolution

In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory

Definitions

Democracy: A form of government in which the supreme power is vested in the people and exercised directly by them or by their elected agents under a free electoral system.

Voting: The means by which such expression is made, as a ballot, ticket, etc.

Ought: Indicating a moral desirability

Compulsory: Required; mandatory; obligatory

Format

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Pro's Case, Con's Case
Round 3: Pro rebuts Con's Case, Con rebuts Pro's Case
Round 4: Pro defends Pro's Case, Con defends Con's Case

Rules

4 rounds, 72 hours, 10,000 characters, Voters: 2500 Elo Points, 3 days to vote.

1. No forfeits.
2. All arguments must be visible inside this debate. Sources may be within the debate or in comments.
3. Maintain a civil and decorous atmosphere.
4. No trolling.
5. Feel free to run a Kritik if you want.
6. No deconstructional semantics.
7. Burden of Proof (BoP) is shared
8. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.
9. Failure to adhere to the rules or format above leads to an immediate loss

FullMetal.Alchemist

Con

I accept.
Debate Round No. 1
salam.morcos

Pro

I want to thank my opponent FullMetal.Alchemist for suggesting this very interesting resolution, and 1harderthanyouthink for organizing this tournament.

Increases voter turnout

I doubt that my opponent would challenge this argument. Compulsory Voting (CV) would lead to a significant increase in Voter Turnout. When Australia implemented CV, the voter turnout increased from 57.99% in 1922 to close to 95% in every election afterwards [1][2]. In Belgium, the voter turnout is around 90% [3]. On the other hand, the voter turnout is much lower in countries that don't have CV,. For example, UK's turnout was 66.12% in 2015 and only 35.4% for elections regarding who would represent them in the EU parliament [4]. The United States doesn't fair much better when only 36.4% voted in the elections in 2014 [5].

Low voter turnout leads to unequal participation

Arend Lijphart writes that "Political equality and political participation are both basic democratic ideals. […] In practice, however, as political scientists have known for a long time, participation is highly unequal. And unequal participation spells unequal influence–a major dilemma for representative democracy […] in which the "democratic responsiveness [of elected officials] depends on citizen participation", and a serious problem even if participation is not regarded mainly as a representational instrument but an intrinsic democratic good." [6]

In a democracy, we ought to strive for equal participation. As Compulsory Voting clearly increases voter turnout, it can be seen that it easily solves the dilemma of unequal participation.

Unequal participation has dire effects on the less fortunate and less represented

Georg Lutz and Michael Marsh write: "The standard view is that low turnout produces a class bias in electoral outcomes. Most studies of participation have found that socio-economic status (SES) is strongly correlated to participation. Education, income, age and sometimes gender are highly significant predictors of whether somebody voted." [7]. For example, in Switzerland, class bias between the least and most highly educated citizens was 37 percentage points [6].

It's inherently less democratic when a class of people has more influence than another. Key explains the impact: "The blunt truth is that politicians and officials are under no compulsion to pay much heed to classes and groups of citizens that do not vote." [8]

Democracy is about the "will of the people" and Compulsory Voting better achieves that will than voluntary voting.

Low voter turnout leads to polarization

It shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that "Research and case studies show that when turnout is low, more-ideological candidates are chosen because the restricted voter pool allots disproportionate influence to more-ideological voters" [9]. Morris Fiorina writes that "But with the prospect of low turnouts, it is the most motivated—and militant—elements at the edges of the ideological spectrum who will receive the most attention." In a democracy where everyone is inherently equal, we should strive for a system that would call for equal representation and equal attention to everyone. Compulsory Voting better achieves that goal.

Also, polarization leads to legislative gridlock. David Jones writes: "party polarization, in conjunction with varying partisan seat arrangements, affects the relative inability of government to enact significant proposals on the policy agenda" [10]. He concludes that "Divided government per se does not cause gridlock. Instead, the results show that higher party polarization increases gridlock. […] On the other hand, divided government is just as productive as unified government when party polarization is low."

Less focus on getting the votes, and more focus on policy

This argument is also a clear and a simple one. Joe Garecht writes: "Get out the vote operations (GOTV) can mean the difference between success and defeat on Election Day, especially for the local campaign. GOTV means those operations that your campaign performs to ensure that voters who plan to vote for your candidate go to the polls on Election Day" [11]. For example, in a provincial election in Alberta, Canada, a political scientist says that "the key to victory for the party that wins Tuesday's Alberta election will be its ability to get out the vote" [12].

In other words, the political party or candidate that is more efficient, and more organized has a better chance of representing the people than the other party, even if the people may otherwise prefer the other party. I argue that this is undemocratic. People look for representatives based on their policies and promises, and not based on their organizing skills and ability to get out the vote on election date. The pressure on candidates to Get out the vote significantly puts less funded politicians at a disadvantage as they may not have the capacity to get the vote out compared to other well funded candidates. Compulsory Voting would solve this problem.

Educates and engages the public about the political process

"Political parties in compulsory voting environments may expend more effort educating voters or countries with compulsory voting may also possess or develop a political culture which encourages greater engagement in politics, or compulsory voting may compel the media to place a greater effort on educating voters. There are, in other words, many plausible mechanisms by which compulsory voting may be associated with increased political engagement" [13].

A study shows that "electoral policies that increase incentives for participation […] will not only increase voter turnout; they will also motivate an increase in the types of political information that are necessary for making a good vote choice" [14].

Having a better understand of the political process suggests that people will make better informed decision when it comes to selecting who should represent them in an election.

Thank you.

Sources

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] http://www.idea.int...
[3] http://www.idea.int...
[4] http://www.idea.int...
[5] http://time.com...
[6] http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu...
[7] http://www.andreasladner.ch...
[8] Key, V. O. 1949. Southern Politics in State and Nation. Knoxville: University of Tennessee Press
[9] http://cacs.org...
[10] http://www.baruch.cuny.edu...
[11] http://www.localvictory.com...
[12] http://www.cbc.ca...
[13] http://individual.utoronto.ca...
[14] http://cess.nyu.edu...


FullMetal.Alchemist

Con

My thanks as well to 1harderthankyouthink for organizing this tournament, and to salam.morcos for taking me up on this debate.
As stated, this round will be to write opening arguments.


A1: Right to Abstain

In a democracy, the supreme power is vested in 'the people' through the right to vote, and one of the defining characteristics of a 'right' is that we are free to *not* exercise it. The right to bear arms cannot require us to buy a gun, just as the right to free speech cannot obligate us to speak our minds. All rights, by definition, come with a right to abstain from exercising them, so the fact that voting is a right makes the idea of a compulsory voting policy paradoxical. The key phrase in the definition of democracy is "free electoral system", which further supports that 'the people' should have the freedom to choose whether or not they want to exercise the power granted to them. In other words, compulsory voting is inherently anti-democratic, making the resolution impossible to affirm.

A2: The Apathetic Vote

According to Gallup Polling, 81% of Americans are dissatisfied with the way the federal government is run in general, and only 39% of them align themselves with either the Democrat or Republican political parties [1][2]. Pew Research Center agreed with these results, placing the number of Americans who generally trust the government at just 24% [3]. The point is that even in stable and relatively prosperous democracies like the United States, political apathy and antiestablishmentarianism are rampant, and it can be assumed that a significant portion of people who abstain from voting do so because they actively desire not to participate in politics [4]. In order for a democracy to truly be democratic, it should be able to account for these people and allow them to express their voices by not voting for anyone. Compulsory voting denies them this, which, again, renders it to be an anti-democratic policy.

A3: Rational Voters

Successful theoretical models of democracy utilize the concept of the "rational voter", assuming that the voting population is made of well-informed & educated people who are committed to choosing the leader they believe will best govern the country. In a voluntary democracy, the voters actually want to vote (obviously, since they are taking the time to do so), and are therefore likely to be "rational voters". However, by making voting compulsory, the government is forcing hoards of new people to vote - new people who would otherwise not have voted. The fact that they would not have voted without being forced to probably means that they have not done their 'homework' as voters (i.e. following politics, learning about 'big issues', informing themselves about various candidates' platforms, etc), and don't care enough about voting to bother putting much thought into casting their ballot; in other words, they are highly unlikely to be "rational voters". Compulsory voting can only reduce the proportion of "rational voters" in the voting population, thus rendering it to be detrimental to the well-being of any democracy.


~ Counter Plan ~

I propose that instead of making voting compulsory, the government should make "Election Day" a National Holiday and take measures to simplify the voter registration process. According to survey data from various sources, the two biggest reasons for not voting (after political apathy) are a lack of time and the registration process being too long and difficult [4][5][6]. It is fairly obvious how the counter-plan would solve for both of those voting impediments... This plan is superior to a compulsory voting policy because it still significantly increases voter-turnout while avoiding all the harms of CV:

(1) avoids introducing too many non-rational voters into the voting population (because it's still voluntary)

(2) allows politically apathetic people to express their voice by abstaining from voting, and

(3) respects the autonomy of 'the people' by letting them choose whether or not to exercise their democratic power



Thank you.


1. http://www.gallup.com...
2. http://www.gallup.com...
3. http://www.people-press.org...
4. http://www.theatlantic.com...
5. http://usgovinfo.about.com...
6. http://www.zencollegelife.com...
Debate Round No. 2
salam.morcos

Pro

Rebuttal

R1: Right to Abstain


Con argues that "compulsory voting is inherently anti-democratic" because it denies people the right to abstain from voting.

First of all, my opponent is simply wrong. CV doesn't deny people the right to abstain from voting. A voter has the right to spoil a ballot and in effect abstain from voting. This is called informal voting [1]. So Con's claim is simply untrue.

Under CV, the people's only "duty is to show up at the polling station, receive a ballot and deposit it, marked or not, into the ballot box" [4]. To justify this, I remind my opponent that citizens have rights and duties, such as jury duty or duty to show in court as a witness if one was served a subpoena. I also remind my opponent that rights are not absolute and can be limited if "only if it can show that the limit is set out in a law; pursues an important goal which can be justified in a free and democratic society; and pursues that goal in a reasonable and proportionate manner. [5]" The simple duty of Compulsory Voting meets all these criteria which makes it justifiable and reasonable.

What's the fine if someone doesn't vote in Australia? It's simply 20 Australian dollars [4]. That's it. And you'd be penalized only if you cannot provide a good reason for not voting. So it's a very lenient penalty and it's mainly meant as a wakeup call. I don't support heavier fines.

Second, Con may be assuming that a large number of those who don't vote actually wanted to intentionally abstain from voting. But this is also untrue. CV has led to a significant increase in voter turnout (By more than 30 percentage points in Australia [2]), while the highest informal vote percentages in Australia were 6.34% in 1984 and 5.92% in 2013 [3]. What's important to note that CV led to an increase of at least 25% in turnout who wouldn't have voted otherwise in a voluntary system. That's about one quarter of eligible voters. Therefore CV is clearly a better system than voluntary voting.

Finally, I argue that the protest vote for those who want to abstain from voting under CV is more superior that under a voluntary voting system. When people don't vote in a voluntary system, it's unclear how much was the protest vote. Are people not voting because they are protesting, or because they are lazy? It doesn't send the message to the politicians that protesters want to send. In Australia, you can easily see that roughly around 5.92% chose to abstain. But in the US, it's unsure how many of the 63.6% who didn't vote in 2014 elections actually chose to abstain.

In summary, I showed that:

1. CV doesn't infringe on the right of citizens to abstain
2. CV is legally and constitutionally justified
3. CV better demonstrates the protest vote

R2: The Apathetic Vote

This contention is hardly any different than the previous one.

Before I rebut this argument, I just wanted to remind my opponent that this debate doesn't only concern the US. Also, just because someone doesn't associate with the Democratic or Republican party, doesn't mean that they wouldn't want to vote in an election.

In any case, I agree with Con that some people are not interested in the political process. Con then argues that "In order for a democracy to truly be democratic, it should be able to account for these people and allow them to express their voices by not voting for anyone." What Con is actually arguing for is the right for apathetic people to abstain from voting. Essentially, this is the same argument as the first contention.

As I've explained earlier, apathetic voters can still maintain their rights not to vote under a Compulsory Voting system. So CV still allows them to express their voice by not voting for anyone. There is no unique benefit to voluntary voting, except to reward procrastination. Also, I've shown in my opening case that voting helps educate people and engages them in the political process. While I agree that some will remain apathetic, others may become more interested which makes CV more beneficial.

R3: Rational Voters

Con argues that "Successful theoretical models of democracy utilize the concept of the "rational voter", assuming that the voting population is made of well-informed & educated people who are committed to choosing the leader they believe will best govern the country". This is a bare assertion. Con didn't provide any sources to suggest that this is the case. Am I supposed to simply agree?

In fact, Con is wrong. Democracy is about representing all the people [6]. It doesn't matter if the voters are more smart or not, educated or not, well-informed or not, literate or not. In India where about a quarter are illiterate, people were asked to "identify their choices by party symbols such as a hand, lotus, or elephant" [7]. Almost in every democratic country, there is support for assisted voting [8].

Ace Project writes that "access to opportunities to vote is a guiding principle for voting operations, and a cornerstone of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR)." It also cites "the United Nations Human Rights Committee’s General Comment on the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR) Article 25, which mentions the steps that electoral administrators should take to allow everyone to exercise their right to vote" [8]. In summary, education or rationality is not a requirement for eligibility to vote.

Also, Con assumes that those who vote are rational. This is not necessarily the case. A poll showed that many people are misinformed about the issues. James Agresti writes "poll provides evidence that voters are often ill-informed and may be casting their ballots based upon misconceptions" [9].

And finally, if democracy is best achieved by an increase of "rational voters", then there might be a case to allow only those with relatively good IQ's, educated and literate citizens to vote. But this is not an argument against a CV system.

So in summary, I've demonstrated that:

1. Rationality is not a requirement for voting
2. Democracy is about representing all the people including the uneducated and the illiterate
3. If rationality is a requirement for voting, then maybe there's a case to only allow those who are intelligent and educated. But it's not an argument against CV.

Counter Plan

I thank my opponent for the Counter Plan. I think that election day should be a national holiday too or on a weekend.

What Con essentially proved that Voter Turnout is very important for a democracy, and that's why he recommends reducing obstacles to help increase voter turnout. But what Con failed to show is how much of an increase in voter turnout will this yield. Will it increase the voter turnout to numbers close to those that a CV system yields? He doesn't provide any evidence.

In fact Japan and France which hold holidays on Sundays [10], had voter turnouts of just 52.66% [11] and 55.4% [12] respectively. These are terrible numbers! Therefore, while I appreciate the proposal, there is no evidence that the proposal would yield the returns that my opponent is hoping for. The benefits from implementing CV are much greater and more evident.

Thank you.

Sources

[1] http://www.aec.gov.au...
[2] Round 2 – Pro's case
[3] http://electionwatch.edu.au...
[4] http://reviewcanada.ca...
[5] http://www.justice.gc.ca...
[6] http://www.lawanddemocracy.org...
[7] http://www.economist.com...
[8] http://aceproject.org...
[9] http://www.theblaze.com...
[10] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[11] http://www.idea.int...
[12] http://www.idea.int...

FullMetal.Alchemist

Con

FullMetal.Alchemist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
salam.morcos

Pro

I'm very disappointed that my opponent forfeited. I extend all arguments.
FullMetal.Alchemist

Con

FullMetal.Alchemist forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
20 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by salam.morcos 2 years ago
salam.morcos
Don't feel bad. Even my Elo is lower than 2,500 so I can't vote on many debates.
Posted by lannan13 2 years ago
lannan13
I hate no being able to vote.
Posted by salam.morcos 2 years ago
salam.morcos
Thanks Kasmic. I really like your ordering of arguments. I'm definitely stealing it in my next debate about the subject.
Posted by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
All in all I think your arguments were strong and well sourced.
Posted by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
I figure since Pro took the time to participate I would give you my two cents on your augments. Take it for what its worth.. I think it might have been worth changing the order of your arguments. You start with voter turnout as the obvious benefit to compulsory voting. I think this would have been a good way to end, not start. You started with a benefit then list 4 harms and then one benefit. In my opinion it would have flowed better to highlight the harm of the status quo first and then end with the solvency or benefit that you are arguing for. So I might have ordered them as follows.

Current harm from the status quo includes"

1. Low voter turnout leads to unequal participation

2. Unequal participation has dire effects on the less fortunate and less represented

3. Low voter turnout leads to polarization

4. Less focus on getting the votes, and more focus on policy

These harms are real and unnecessary. Consider Compulsory voting. It

1. Educates and engages the public about the political process

2. Increases voter turnout

Thus by implementing compulsory voting we have solvency of all issues.

Again this is just my opinion, I am sure plenty of people would disagree with me haha.
Posted by salam.morcos 2 years ago
salam.morcos
Ok - only 14 minutes earlier :)
Posted by salam.morcos 2 years ago
salam.morcos
Sorry I'm posting 25 minutes earlier that I promised. Hopefully that's not an issue.
Posted by FullMetal.Alchemist 2 years ago
FullMetal.Alchemist
Yes, that would be fine.
Posted by salam.morcos 2 years ago
salam.morcos
OK. Is 5pm EST OK? I can do after if you want.
Posted by FullMetal.Alchemist 2 years ago
FullMetal.Alchemist
Can you please delay posting your argument until at least tomorrow night?
I have a busy weekend and would prefer not to end up forfeiting,
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by tajshar2k 2 years ago
tajshar2k
salam.morcosFullMetal.Alchemist
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by kasmic 2 years ago
kasmic
salam.morcosFullMetal.Alchemist
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Obviously a vote for pro as Con forfeit. I put some notes in the comments.
Vote Placed by tejretics 2 years ago
tejretics
salam.morcosFullMetal.Alchemist
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.
Vote Placed by 1harderthanyouthink 2 years ago
1harderthanyouthink
salam.morcosFullMetal.Alchemist
Who won the debate:Vote Checkmark-
Reasons for voting decision: Forfeit.