The Instigator
Pro (for)
0 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
3 Points

Compulsory Voting is the Only Way to be Truly Democratic

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/29/2015 Category: Society
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 586 times Debate No: 69163
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (7)
Votes (1)




Hello, and good luck to my challenger.

The first round is acceptance. The other rounds are for whatever the debaters wish.

The topic for this debate is compulsory voting. Here is an introductory explanation: More specifically, the topic for the debate is whether a society is fully democratic if they do not have compulsory voting.


I accept.

Since Pro has not provided an outline of the debate, I shall propose it thus:

Round 2: Pro argues/Con rebuts
Round 3: Counter rebuttals
Round 4: Counter rebuttals

Best of luck!
Debate Round No. 1


I accept the outline.

According to the Oxford Dictionary, there are four definitions of democracy. The one I believe is the most pertinent to this debate is"A system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state, typically through elected representatives" [1]. The burden of proof is on me to prove that compulsory voting is needed to have a system that fits this definition.Non-compulsory voting is not 'by the whole population or all the eligible members of the state'. A system in which around 45% of the eligible voters do not participate in the US [2] surely is not 'by all the eligible members'. It is by 55% of eligible members. Yes these 45% of people chose not to vote, but the elections are still not 'by all the eligible members' unless, well 'all the eligible members' have a say.

Another Oxford definition relevant to this debate is"The practise or principles of social equality"[1]. I will set out my argument/s that seek to prove that compulsory voting is necessary for this. Compulsory voting is fully equal, other systems aren't. You might think that each system is equal given that everyone is allowed to vote in the US system. However, this is not the case in practise. While formally the US system is equal, substantively, it is not. This is because more educated people are likelier to vote [3] and white people and Asians are likely to be more educated[4]. To close the gap and have a system that represents all races, all jobs and both genders, compulsory voting is the only option. Otherwise 'the...principles of social equality' are not achieved.



What is a democracy?

Along with my opponent's definition, democracy is also defined as “government by the people; 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.”[1]

A democracy is a government by the people. The supreme power is vested in the people. By this definition, we learn that the people have the ultimate power in a democracy. If this is so, then why should the people, the supreme power, be limited by a lesser power, in a case where they don't have the ability not to choose? The government forcing people to say what they want to be legalized and who they want in office is the people’s choice. The people also have the right not to choose. Forcing them to choose is a direct violation of the people’s superiority in the government.

It is also a free electoral system. Free does not mean limited, free means unrestricted, able to choose, or to choose not to choose. To choose not to choose is a choice in itself, and by taking away one’s freedom to choose to not vote is limiting freedom itself, and the ability to make a choice. A democracy is supposed to be free, but by restricting citizens to have to vote, it would mean that freedom has unnecessary bounds. Placing restrictions on this right is contradictory to the nature of freedom itself.

It is true that a democracy is a system of government represented by the whole population, but the 45% of people who do not cast a vote are still representing their view of what government should be: decided by someone other than themselves. For example, when you cast a vote on a DDO debate, you have the option to vote for neither contender but remain neutral, yet you are still representing your view of what the outcome of the debate should be: decided by other voters who have a better view of the debate.

Social Equity

The problem with compulsory voting is that it is representation by force. Anyone who wishes to abstain from voting is still bounded to vote. Because educated people are more likely to vote, they should not have their votes overrun by people who are uneducated. Mandatory voting means that people who are very uneducated on laws and candidates will vote randomly, which will be harmful to the government because people who know nothing about the election or laws could be the factor that changes the outcome for the worse. It is essential that citizens who know a lot about elections or laws don't feel cheated because their votes were counteracted by people who don't know what they're doing.

The ability to choose whether to vote or not is a clearer example of social equity because it represents what the citizens really want, and it allows for people who know little to nothing about an election to not hurt the outcome of what the educated people desire. It also allows the freedom for people to choose not to participate if they wish not to.


Debate Round No. 2


What I believe is the flaw in your entire argument is that you say that it is a fundamental right in democracies not to vote. However, this is clearly not the case. There are flourishing democracies in the world in which it is compulsory to vote. These include Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Belgium, Greece , Turkey and many more [1]. These are clearly democratic countries that follow the will of the people. You must either accept that these countries are undemocratic or rescind the argument that 'forcing them to choose is a direct violation of the people's superiority in government'. In fact, voting was compulsory in Athens, the world's first democracy [1]

As well as this, non-compulsory voting leads to unrepresentative governments. How can a government claim a mandate if well less than half of people voted for them? Compulsory voting legitimizes the mandates of governments by electing people that over half of the population voted for or preferenced highly.

As I said before and I will say again, non- compulsory voting disenfranchises the poor, the badly educated, and the uninformed. It allows governments to be elected who hardly represent these people to be elected. This means that parties do not have to campaign based on the interests of everyone. They campaign based on the interests of the voters. Under compulsory voting, governments have to appeal to a broader interest base made up of all people, and I cannot see how this is called anything but a huge success.



Other Countries

The fact that Australia, Brazil, Uruguay, Argentina, Belgium, Greece, Turkey, and other countries have a compulsory voting system doesn't mean that they have "flourishing democracies". It just means that their system of voting is different. Pro has failed back up the claim that their democracies are flourishing and has not provided evidence for how compulsory voting has made these countries better. All Pro has done here is state an opinion and has used a statement as evidence of itself to make an argument, which is a logical fallacy.

Unrepresentative Governments

Actually, governments are represented worse when people who do not wish to participate are forced to choose a side, because then those voters are not sure how they want government to be. They have no option to remain neutral but to cast a vote one way or the other, which inaccurately reflects how they really feel about how government ought to be (which is that others should decide who know better about both sides of the matter at hand). As I mentioned before, coerced voting tempts uneducated people to vote for a random candidate or cause, which is harmful to everyone in the ring.

Interests of voters

Let us consider the following scenario: At a voting booth for an election, an uneducated voter says to himself, "I know nothing about candidate A or candidate B, nor do I care about the outcome of the election, but since I am required to vote by law I will flip a coin to decide who I shall vote for." He flips a coin and decides to vote for candidate A. Meanwhile, an educated voter who has studied the candidates and their intentions closely and has been taking both runners into much consideration has decided to vote for candidate B and strongly believes candidate B will do a better job in office. However, the educated person's vote is canceled out by the ignorant man's random ballot, thus affecting the outcome of the election and potentially putting a worse candidate is put in office.

When the 45% less educated population is forced to vote, it leads to worse representation of the people's choice of law or candidate, and in effect becomes a violation of true democracy.
Debate Round No. 3


"They have no option to remain neutral but to cast a vote one way or the other"

This is not actually true. Due to the secret ballot, it is possible to cast 'informal' votes, which do not rank all candidates or similar. These votes do not count. It is also not enforced very strictly in most jurisdictions, meaning it is easy to remain neutral. The benefit of compulsory voting is that it forces people to really think about doing this. Thus, it increases engagement in government, and thus is surely better according to democratic principles.

"As I mentioned before, coerced voting tempts uneducated people to vote for a random candidate or cause"

Random voting is not a major problem in jurisdictions with compulsory voting. This is because compulsory voting increases people's awareness politically. People who would otherwise just stay at home instead educate themselves at least rudimentarily.

"Let us consider the following scenario: At a voting booth for an election, an uneducated voter says to himself, "I know nothing about candidate A or candidate B, nor do I care about the outcome of the election, but since I am required to vote by law I will flip a coin to decide who I shall vote for.""

You assume the 45% of people who do not vote are not at all engaged with politics. Many of these people have opinions on politics, just not ones strong enough to act on. These people are forced to vote in compulsory voting, meaning that the opinions of all people are represented, not just the opinions of the people who feel strongly about politics. Those who truly have no opinion can still cast an informal vote under compulsory voting, or educate themselves until they get an opinion.

"When the 45% less educated population is forced to vote, it leads to worse representation of the people's choice of law or candidate, and in effect becomes a violation of true democracy."

When I said that less educated people were less likely to vote, I meant educated in a schooling sense, not educated about the candidates. Sorry for not making that clearer. Anyway, 'the people' is all the people, uninformed or informed, and a voting system should represent all of them. You seem to mistake throughout the debate "the people's choice" for "the well-informed people's choice". The random voters are still people, and should have their votes count, because democracy is for all people.

Summary: I believe I have stated a good case for why compulsory voting is more democratic. Compulsory voting increases the government's representation of diverse parts of the population. Compulsory voting makes a government have a true mandate, and be a true government of the people. Non-compulsory voting makes unrepresentative governments, which is surely not democratic. If you believe this, please vote Pro.


Secret Ballot

Since no source for the "secret ballot" claim was provided I decided to look it up and found that - yes, it exists[1], but it is pointless because it does not count and has no actual representation towards the outcome of an election of what the voter really thinks. In a non-compulsory setting, the voter doesn't have to vote at all if he or she wishes not to.

Why should we force people who don't desire to vote to participate? In a democracy, the people who are the supreme power have the ultimate choice to vote or not to vote but are being dismissed of that right when they are told by the government that they don't have a choice to not choose. Agency is being restricted, which is the opposite of freedom.

Random Voting

To determine whether random voting is a major problem or not, voters would have to be polled afterwards and asked if they just voted for a random candidate or not. It is logical to infer that random voting would increase because of how it is mandatory and not all voters care about the outcome of the election; they just want to get it over with while abiding by the law.

Political Awareness

Being politically aware is a choice, not something that everyone has to be. The outcome of an election only matters most to those who are politically aware and less to those who aren't, so it really isn't a benefit that a few more people know about candidates, it only matters to those who care about the future of their country's leaders. Pro hasn't shown how political awareness is a societal positive, so this point can be properly dismissed.

The 45% of non-voters may or may not be engaged in politics, but if their opinions are not strong enough for them to be willing to cast a ballot to affect the country's future than their votes have less meaning. The government wants the votes of those who want to make a difference in their country's future, not the votes of those who don't care. Nevertheless, compulsory voting has no merit and is pointless system.


Democracy is indeed for all people, so if all people wish to vote than they will do so to properly represent their views. Forcing people to vote is just going to complicate that representation by sparking random voting and will not be representative of what the people really want. Citizens who have the right to choose ought to choose what they want and have the freedom to do so, and not be shoved by the government to do something they rather would not. The Constitution gives the people the ultimate power, not the other way around. The diverse population represents themselves by voting or implying that they believe they are or are not the ones to decide the outcome.


Debate Round No. 4
7 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Posted by Sandra888 1 year ago
Here in Australia we randomize the order on the ballot instead of doing it by alphabet.
Posted by Paleophyte 1 year ago
The problem actually isn't random voting by the unconcerned voters. Random voting takes a 450-550 vote to 1450-1550. No change in the winner. The problem is non-random voting. Voters who don't give a sh!t more commonly pick the first name on the ballot, which is typically alphabetical. This means that Adams stands a better chance of being elected than Young, regardless of merit.
Posted by Sandra888 1 year ago
Yup, I'm just going to do it tomorrow.
Posted by Varrack 1 year ago
So you will continue arguing?
Posted by Sandra888 1 year ago
I'm not forfeiting. I have morals, you know :)
Posted by Varrack 1 year ago
You only have one round left. Don't forfeit, just make one last argument so the whole debate isn't butchered.
Posted by Sandra888 1 year ago
The resolution of the debate was badly conceived and can never be won by the pro side.

I should have just said 'compulsory voting should be instituted in the USA'
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Paleophyte 1 year ago
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Total points awarded:03 
Reasons for voting decision: Good debate! Conduct was good on both sides. Spelling/grammar and sources are also pretty well tied. Arguments were decent though both sides made a few minor slips and both sides missed a few opportunities. In the end Con effectively rebutted all of Pro's points so the resolution lacks support.