The Instigator
wingnut2280
Pro (for)
Winning
19 Points
The Contender
aredcard4u
Con (against)
Losing
7 Points

Compulsory Voting

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/18/2008 Category: Society
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 10,100 times Debate No: 1938
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (6)
Votes (8)

 

wingnut2280

Pro

With voter turnout at all-time lows, I believe that the government should enact what several other countries around the world have already done, Compulsory Voting. I think voting should be mandatory, or you face a fine. This system was implemented in Australia fairly recently and voter turnout doubled.

In order for our government to be truly representative, we should have heard the opinion of more than 30% of the population. I don't think we can call ourselves a democracy when a candidate wins by a million votes, but 100 million people didn't cast theirs.

As for complications, we can make exceptions so that no one is fined unjustly. Polls are open for twelve hours on most occassions and early, satellite, and absentee voting are easier than ever.

Some would argue that it is just as much a right to not vote as it is to vote. This is true. However, there is an abstain box (where there isn't we would make one), which would allow those who do not want to cast either way to avoid the fine.

Compulsory voting would ensure that the democratic spirit is invigorated. Something America in particular deperately needs.
aredcard4u

Con

Although voter turnout is at all time lows, there is something more important than increasing voter turnout; our freedom. It is not only unconstitutional to enact such a law, it would be bad for our democracy. We have the right to vote not the obligation to vote.
But past that, it would injure our democracy as people who don't know any of the issues, or care what effect they have would be voting just to avoid the fine. Many people would vote randomly, not really caring who they are voting for, as the only reason they're there is to fulfill their obligation, rather than exercise their rights. It would increase the uninformed vote, but is that really an advantage? If someone is unwilling to learn the issues on their own and get the initiative to get themselves out to vote then they are more likely to be less qualified than someone who does. It's better to be governed by a few who know more of what's best for the country than by many that don't.
Debate Round No. 1
wingnut2280

Pro

I would encourage people to vote on debates not on the topic. Please determine who stated their case better, not who you agree with. I'm not assuming I'm a better debater than my opponent, I just want it to be judged legitimately.

Anyway, you state two points here.

1) You can't make people vote.

In what way is it unconstitutional? If anything, compulsory voting is constitutionally warranted. Our leaders are supposed to be elected by majority. There haven't been many, if any, presidents who have had over half of the full voting population vote for them. In order to have a legitimate democracy, everyone's opinion should be heard.

Also, I'm not making anyone do anything. Each person has the option to abstain. The primary reason people don't vote is pure apathy. This gives them an incentive. Instead of a fine, we could give them a small tax break if you want to flip it the other way. The principal point is to have some incentive for voting.

2) CV increases uninformed voters

Who is to qualify a voters decision? If we were to use your logic we would have poll tests requiring you to demonstrate your knowledge before voting. The Supreme Court has already ruled this logic unconstitutional. Each person has their own reason for voting. No one can qualify that in any way. A college dean's vote isn't worth five points while a high-school dropout's vote is worth a half. It doesn't work that way.

Also, CV would increase voter knowledge and interest. Since people are given an incentive to vote, voters will take their decision more seriously, learning about the candidates and making a MORE informed decision. The mentality, at the lowest level, would be, at least, "well, I am going to vote anyway, might as well learn something about the candidates."

Finally, there are no cons to compulsory voting. The pros are a more invigorated democratic spirit and community along with a TRUE democracy. Had everyone's opinions been heard in past elections, we would have had different government in some circumstance. This fact is the most important to realize. How do we call ourselves a representative government when only 10% of our population voted for our president?
aredcard4u

Con

First off, you're right, the debate should be judged on the arguments, and which ones are more believable. But that doesn't mean that the one who is more elegant should automatically win the round. It's about who's argument is better. The person who debated that "1=2" lost the debate because what he was saying was outrageous.
1) What's wrong with not being elected by the majority of the people in the U.S.? They were elected by the majority of those who showed up to vote, so what's the problem? President Bush didn't even win that in 2000, are you saying his victory was illegitimate because of that? Even if all the registered voters in the country had showed up and voted that day, he still could've won without winning the popular vote.
An incentive would essentially be the same as a fine because where does that money come from? Taxes. The only difference would be the rich would have a bigger penalty than the poor.
2) If someone chooses not to vote, they are essentially saying, "I don't know the issues well enough to make an informed decision" or "It doesn't matter enough to me to get out and vote." If someone doesn't think that they themselves should vote, who are you to tell them that they should, regardless of whether they actually know the issues.
"CV would increase voter knowledge and interest." No that's simply false, it would increase American interest on the whole but the average voter would be less informed.
There are cons to Compulsory Voting. It would be creating yet another useless bureaucracy and it would decrease the percent of informed voters. No one's stopping anyone from voting, if you want your opinion to be heard it will be heard. Is it better to have everyone vote and make the wrong decision or have 20% vote and make the right one? Isn't that the point of a Representative Democracy? So that not everyone has to vote on something they may know nothing about?
Debate Round No. 2
wingnut2280

Pro

I think someone should be able to make any kind of claim they want, no matter how ludicrous, and still be able to win. I would have voted PRO in the '1=2' debate if he would argue it better.

You make a couple of scary claims. I think there is a lot wrong with someone not being elected by majority. This isn't a debate about the electoral college. The point is, if everyone showed up to vote, we could have had different results. Every win in every election is essentially illegitimate.

Next, you claim it is better to have a small number of 'informed' voters rather than have the large percentage of America voting. This is simply not true. Again, who is to qualify a vote? Why does the reason that you vote have any more weight than the reason I vote? If I am a single issue voter, like the millions of Americans, whats to say I'm informed? Should we require poll testing, as I asked earlier. The fact is, qualifying people's votes in any way is unconstitutional and illegal. So, who is to say the valid opinion of the true majority of Americans would somehow be the 'wrong' one? Maybe the government should just protect us all from ourselves and choose who is going to be president themselves.

Some of your points would be true if there was some kind of principle decision made as to why not to vote. But, this isn't the case. Most voters don't vote because they are simply lazy. Giving them an incentive would inspire them to get out and vote. If they are going to vote, people have the option of abstaining if they don't have a preference, and if they do, this motivates them to express their opinion.

In short, people would be motivated to vote. Once at the polling station, these people would either abstain if they had no viable opinion or cast their vote for whatever reason they decide. Its presumptuous to think that your reasons for voting are any more important than theirs. The only way we can be called a legitimate democracy is if we can truly access our populations opinions. 20% turnout, no matter how 'educated', does not warrant a victory and is not reflective of a democracy.

Furthermore, people would take it upon themselves to become more informed, in the event that they don't have any reason to vote one way or the other. If they don't become more 'informed', than they have the option of abstaining.

As for the cons, I don't have any reason to believe their would be some new bureaucracy formed. What would cause this, more votes being cast? If so, I think more vote counters are a small sacrifice and deserve to be implemented. The 'point' of representative democracy is not so that stupid people won't have their voices heard. It is simply a matter of efficiency. There is no way we could have everyone in the country vote on half a dozen issues a day, like Congress does.

How is an incentive the same as a fine? A tax break would be great for people. I don't see how the rich benefit from a universal tax break. This is illogical.

So, your position stands as unconstitutional and illegal. People who truly don't have an opinion could abstain or 'educate' themselves and make an 'informed' decision. Any reason that someone votes one way is enough to warrant their opinion. My grandma votes on who she thinks "looks more like a president", while I do some research and watch the campaigns etc. Does that mean she shouldn't be allowed to vote? Whether they are voting on who looks more trustworthy or the voter has in depth knowledge on each and every technical issue, the vote still counts the same. Whether you personally see it that way or not, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and several Supreme Court decisions do. We have a need to know the true opinion of our populous if we are to call ourselves a democracy.
aredcard4u

Con

To bring this to the front, a tax break simply won't work because 1/3 of Americans don't even pay taxes. A fine would hurt the poor more than the rich and the poor are the ones more likely to miss an election if their car breaks down if they even have one.
Again I ask, what's the problem with not being elected by the majority of Americans? I'm not saying the majority that voted. I'm saying the majority of American citizens. Even in Australia they don't have all the people show up to vote, if the standard is to win the majority, it won't always happen in Australia either.
"Every win in every election is essentially illegitimate."
Lets define illegitimate. From http://www.m-w.com... ; "2:�not rightly deduced or inferred :�illogical3:�departing from the regular :�erratic4 a:�not sanctioned by law :�illegal b:�not authorized by good usage cof a taxon :�published but not in accordance with the rules of the relevant international code."
Take your pick, none of them fit.
"Should we require poll testing"
ARE WE STOPPING ANYONE FROM VOTING??? NO!
"The fact is, qualifying people's votes in any way is unconstitutional and illegal."
ARE WE STOPPING ANYONE FROM VOTING??? NO!
"who is to say the valid opinion of the true majority of Americans would somehow be the 'wrong' one?"
ARE WE STOPPING ANYONE FROM VOTING??? NO! If you have a valid opinion, vote.
"Maybe the government should just protect us all from ourselves and choose who is going to be president themselves."
ARE WE STOPPING ANYONE FROM VOTING??? NO!
"Once at the polling station, these people would either abstain if they had no viable opinion or cast their vote for whatever reason they decide."
How do you know that they would abstain if they had no viable opinion?
"Its presumptuous to think that your reasons for voting are any more important than theirs."
Really? If they are only going to avoid a fine and I'm going to make a real change in our government, my reason for voting is better than theirs.
"I don't have any reason to believe their would be some new bureaucracy formed."
How would you implement the tax break or fine without a new agency?
"People who truly don't have an opinion could abstain."
But they would still have to drive to the polling place, waste their time and gas to drive there.
"Does that mean she shouldn't be allowed to vote?"
Oh here's a familiar answer. (copy + paste) ARE WE STOPPING ANYONE FROM VOTING??? NO!
"Whether you personally see it that way or not, the Voting Rights Act of 1965 and several Supreme Court decisions do."

Did the supreme court say that we should have compulsory voting? No I didn't think so.
"So, your position stands as unconstitutional and illegal."
LOL. I'm so sorry, I just can't stop laughing.
Debate Round No. 3
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by aredcard4u 9 years ago
aredcard4u
Kreuzian
could you get me a source on your claim that "in all towns where ballots were hand-tallied, Obama won, while in all towns with votes counted by optical-scanning machines, Clinton won."
That is a huge claim, it would be interesting if it were true, could you send me a direct link or something so that I could research it myself?

PS don't send me to some blog, I would like some sort of news source.
Posted by dalzuga 9 years ago
dalzuga
This is not about increasing the uninformed voting. Some people are more able to vote than others, due to their financial, familial, and other conditions. By making it compulsory there would be no advantages or disadvantages in the ability to vote.
Posted by Kreuzian 9 years ago
Kreuzian
Actually some people's votes should be worth more.

Say all the powerful landowners get 1 vote, and the "commoners" get 1 vote. Naturally, the landowners do not approve, as they are the ones with all the real power.

Thus voter fraud is born, and democracy as you pretend it exists: has not, and does not.

'It's not the people who vote that count, it's the people who count the votes' - Stalin, "elected" Dictator of Russia

For example: In the New Hampshire primary, statewide vote percentages for primary front-runners Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama "never changed all night, no matter how many precincts came in," and that in all towns where ballots were hand-tallied, Obama won, while in all towns with votes counted by optical-scanning machines, Clinton won.

That shows fraud on both the hand-tallied and electronic sides, haha.
Posted by kels1123 9 years ago
kels1123
If people are forced to vote then it really doesn't help because more often than not they won't research the candidates and will just pick a person with a cool name or something equally stupid. I would rather have less voters that are educated on the people running than more voters who don't care.
Posted by wingnut2280 9 years ago
wingnut2280
I wish people would judge debates instead of voting on the topic. Who cares if it is moronic? Maybe I was bored and wanted to play devil's advocate.
Posted by erkifish26 9 years ago
erkifish26
This is moronic. You cannot force people to access their rights... that's like punishing you if you don't use free speech. When people are forced to use their rights, we malign the entire concept of justice and create an instance in which certain people are able to exercise power over others. This blurs the line of when rights are allowed to be broken.
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