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

In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/19/2013 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 902 times Debate No: 39179
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (9)
Votes (1)




This is my first ever debate on this website. I'm unsure if I'm supposed to make my argument in this box or wait til my opponent accepts the round.

I'm in favor of compulsory voting because CV (compulsory voting) solves for voter disenfranchisement, decreases political polarization, and is more consistent within the principles of a democracy.
(so evidence next speech?)


This is also my first debate so this should be interesting. Voting should not be compulsory because it reduces the quality of the election, does not take into account the possibility of a voter not being able to choose between candidates, and actually contrasts the idea that in a democratic nation the voters are free to choose how want to vote, a choice that includes not voting at all.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks you for accepting the challenge!

I would like to begin by presenting evidence supporting my views previously stated in R1.

1. Compulsory Voting Decreases Political Polarization and Solves for Disenfranchisement of Voters

According to Eric Liu, (Former Policy Adviser to President Bill Clinton), TIME, Aug. 21, 2012. Retrieved Aug. 16, 2013 from

Many reforms could increase turnout, from same-day registration to voting on weekends. But the most basic is also the most appropriate: making voting mandatory. Here"s why. Mandatory voting would make elections truly valid. "Protecting the integrity of our elections" is the rationale Republicans give for the cynically restrictive voter ID laws they"ve enacted in Pennsylvania and elsewhere. But if we truly cared about the integrity of elections, we should ensure that they reflect the will of all eligible voters. Second, as William Galston of the Brookings Institution argues, it would temper the polarization of our politics. In today"s electorate, hardcore partisan believers are over-represented; independents and moderates are under-represented. If the full range of voters actually voted, our political leaders, who are exquisitely attuned followers, would go where the votes are: away from the extremes. And they would become more responsive to the younger, poorer and less educated Americans who don"t currently vote.

What we see is in a voluntary system the views of the partisan people are heard but the moderate middle go unheard. Through compulsory voting we would see moderate voters receive legitimate representation.

2. CV Increases Political Participation

Margaret Kelly, (Prof., Law, Macquerie U., Australia), THE ADVERTISER, Oct. 22, 2007, 18.

The turnout at Australian elections has never fallen below 90 per cent since the introduction of compulsory voting. This compares favorably to the situation in the U.S. and Britain. In 2001, the turnout for the federal election for the House of Representatives was 94.85 per cent. In the same year, the turnout for the general election in Britain was 59.4 per cent. With such a large percentage of the electorate voting, the Parliament more accurately reflects the will of the electorate, the silent majority, not just the noisy minority. Parties must consider the total electorate in policy formulation not just those
inclined to go to the polls.

Not only does it increase political participation, but it also increases the political process as a whole. Politicians will have to appeal to a new range of voters rather than campaigns just go get there base out to vote.

A few points I would like to address before my opponent presents his evidence supporting his position.
1. All CV does is force you to fill out a ballot (none is an option). CV does not force you to chose the lesser of two evils since you can always vote for none of the below (or above).
2. The Quality of Elections will increase because politicians will now have to represent the whole voter base rather than the few hardcore partisan voters that come out and vote.
3. All laws require citizens to do things they don't want to do. Jury duty is a good example of this, taxes, and much more. CV is no different than our other day to day civic duties. Forcing someone to vote is not undemocratic.


Compulsory voting is bad, not good, and I will now present my reasons why.

1. Compulsory voting reduces the quality of the election results.

In this New York Times article, Jason Brennan, an expert on philosophy, public policy, and ethics points out what is likely the greatest issue with compulsory voting. It actually harms the legitimacy of an electoral outcome, as opposed to helping it. As it is, many voters head to the polls with far less knowledge of the candidates and issues in the election than they should. A vote is the most important tool that most people have to shape their country with, in order to bring about the changes they would like to see. It is not a decision that should be taken lightly, and without the necessary information, votes are cast in a way that can have dangerous effects for the entire population. Votes are cast far too often without the voter having the adequate knowledge, and this hurts everyone. The best way to increase the legitimacy of an election is to have better informed voters, not simply more of them.

Most eligible voters who choose not to vote do so due to a lack of interest or information, and if these people are forced to cast their votes, many will go to the polls without being well-informed. There is no cure for apathy, so forcing those who do not care about the election undermines the validity of the overall result. It is the responsibility of voters to make their decision based on a fair assessment of the candidates and their positions, as well as the positive and negative affects of the policy goals they will strive to achieve. If this level of knowledge is not present in many voters now, how will it help to increase the number of uninformed voters that take part in elections by mandating that all eligible voters vote? This will reduce the quality of elections and could have dangerous if not drastic consequences for all.

2. Compulsory Voting Infringes upon the rights of voters.

In a democracy, voting is a right that people should not be forced to exercise. A democracy should provide each citizen with this right, but to force anyone to use it contrasts the democratic concept. All citizens should have the right to choose how they would like to vote, and this includes not voting at all. Voting should be highly encouraged but that does not mean that it should be mandated. If compulsory voting were enacted in the US, it is quite clear that it would be unconstitutional. The United States Constitution refers to "the right to vote" a total of five times. Not the duty to vote but the right.

In addition to the right to vote, compulsory voting can be seen as infringing upon the freedom of speech. A vote is a way for many to make a statement about their views, and this statement is protected by the freedom of speech. The freedom of speech also includes the freedom not to speak, and therefore, not to vote. If people are forced to express their political views, then they lose the right to remain silent.

Lastly, polarization in the US, where it is about as bad as you will find, is not caused by the over-representation of partisan believers in general elections, but by the over-representation of the extremes in primary elections that drives parties away from the middle, the biases of the mainstream media, gerrymandered house districts, and by the electoral system that allows candidates to cater to the undecided voters in only a few states, as opposed to the whole nation. Compulsory voting in the US would not change polarization due to the remainder of the factors that I just listed. In addition to this, minorities, millennials, and the poor are most likely not to vote. These three groups are not known to be moderate/independent voters. Compulsory voting in the United States would likely favor democrats because of the higher representation of these groups while doing very little to decrease the polarization in American politics.
Debate Round No. 2


The purpose of this round is to rebut my opponents points and then give key voting issues.

1. CV reduces the quality of election results
-The gist of this argument is that people who are uninformed or lack information are now required to vote. This supposedly will make elections less valid. I have three main responses (a,b, and c)
a) The argument is non-unique because there's no possible way to prevent uninformed votes from being cast in a voluntary system
b) There's always someone who is more informed than you does that mean you no longer should go out and vote just because you are not "more informed". If anything mandatory voting would incentivise people to become more informed.
c) The quality will actually increase. Republicans of Pennsylvania passed restrictive voter ID laws to try and restrict younger voters (largely Democrat) from voting for their advantage. Politicians will no longer be able to achieve this if voting becomes mandatory. Democracy increases when a fuller range of voters actually go out and vote rather than a noisy minority.

2. CV infringes on the rights of the voters
-Citizens have a right to choose how they vote and that includes not voting
-violation of freedom of speech (two responses a and b)
a) My previous argument about all citizens have certain duties such as jury duty and paying taxes was dropped, so extend that argument through the round. In a democracy citizens have certain duties CV is just another duty.
b) Again dropped, citizens can always vote "none of the above", so CV doesn't force you to make a choice between two candidates.

1. Political Polarization
-Over extremes in primary elections bring people away from the middle, gerrymandering, electoral system in the U.S. flawes
a) I would like to remind you this topic is not U.S. specific. But ultimately in primary elections more votes would be cast due to CV, and thus bringing people politicians away from the extremes to take views more aligned with their electorate.
b) I agree gerrymandering is responsible partially for polarization, but also voluntary voting is also at fault. When politicians have to appeal to hard-core partisan beliefs just so they can get the turnout and vote, we know there is a flaw in the supposedly democratic system.
c) I agree the U.S. electorate system has its flaws and there's no 100% guarantee that CV will completely solve for polarization at least in that system. It can at least help whereas voluntary voting will actually increase the problems. Also the resolution is not U.S. explicit, so in other countries CV might be a key factor in decreasing polarization.

If you truly value democracy, then CV is the only system that protects the rights of voters in all voter groups. In a voluntary system, politicians will continue to pass laws to restrict an individuals right to vote. For all these reasons you should vote pro.


My opponent points to these things in trying to rebut my arguments, here is what I have to say about his responses.

1. My point was that it reduces the quality of elections. He said:
(1) There will always be uninformed voters. (2) Even if someone is not informed as much as others they should still vote. (3) Quality increases because of the loss of possible voter suppression and a full range of voters not just a "noisy minority."

I say:
(1) There will always be uninformed voters, however, steps should be taken to encourage better informed voting as opposed to expanding an already large group of uninformed voters who have previously shown little to no interest in being an active voter. (2) If someone is not sufficiently informed, they should work to learn more before voting because the votes of uninformed voters can have serious negative impacts on everyone. Perhaps some would see it as a reason to become more informed but there are plenty of people who vote in voluntary elections that are not well informed and so I see no reason that people would decide all of the sudden that they need to be fully informed to vote if uninformed votes are cast frequently already. (3) It is true that there are many voter suppression efforts going on, however, to say that those who go to the polls are a noisy minority is false. If that were the case, they would no longer be a minority because they would currently hold power. This minority is balanced by a larger portion of voters who oppose and I am not understanding how this noisy minority would be any less of a MINORITY if voting were compulsory. The quality of elections WOULD be reduced due to uninformed votes being cast much more often than in a voluntary system. Eligible voters who would normally choose not to vote would likely go into elections with far less knowledge than the voluntary voter previously had since those who currently do not vote are mostly those who are not interested in politics in the first place.

2. My point was that Compulsory voting infringes upon individual rights. He said:
(1) CV is another duty like jury duty and paying taxes. (2) They do not have to pick a candidate, there is a none of the above option.

I say:
(1) Voting should be a right, since making it obligatory forces people to perform a duty they may not want to perform without it being fully necessary. I am not going to say that voting is not important, however, jury duty is an essential service that would not be possible without making it a duty. At the same time, taxes are essential to the government being able to fund important programs, and therefore not paying taxes is not an option. However, in a democracy, voting can be a right because a large enough and better informed voting base will turnout whether it is a right or a duty. Voting can be done without a mandate since enough people voluntarily vote in order perform the necessary job, electing our leaders. (2) Getting to the polls is an unwanted detour for many and even though there is a "none of the above" option, it is still a hassle for many to turn up, wait in line, and finally fill out an unnecessary ballot all to choose none of the candidates and basically discard their vote.

3. My point was that there are other factors to polarization. He said:
(1) More voters would go to primaries. (2) politicians must get out their base instead of being moderate and CV would solve this. (3) This issue is not just about the US and would have a larger impact in other countries.

I say:
(1) More votes would not necessarily go to the primaries since this would not be mandated. (2) There is little to no proof to show that eligible voters who do not commonly vote would be more moderate than current voters. (3) While this is not US specific, voluntary voting is not the only reason for the polarization in other countries either.

After reading over my arguments, I hope that it is clear that Conpulsory Voting does or would do, depending on how you are looking at it, many negative things in elections. It reduces the level of information that voters posses, therefore harming the quality of elections, it infringes upon our rights, and it would do little to fight polarization. When voting on this debate, think about the fact that even if only a little more than half the eligible voters vote, this is still in the millions for most democracies, it is still an accurate assessment of the will of the people, and it is done with a larger percent of well informed voters. This is why voting should NOT be compulsory.

Thanks for debating me and I am interested in seeing the result.
Debate Round No. 3
9 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Posted by theHomelessPanda 2 years ago
I'm not going to re-read the entire debate, frankly because I don't have time. But I do remember your(Ignopius) arguments being substantially weaker. You failed to effectively rebut several points, or provide logic to the contrary.

"If you want to protect the voting rights of poor and minority groups vote pro"

Voters don't vote their opinion on debates. I voted in the direction of superior argumentation, my opinions on the matter are irrelevant.
Posted by ChuckieH 3 years ago
"Con had no real response to the argument that only through CV can we really protect voter groups from being disenfranchised."

Here it is: Yes, there is another way which is to have Congress reauthorize the voting rights act and expand it to other states that have recently put in place similar voting restrictions; e.g. Ohio, Wisconsin, Florida that did not previously need to seek approval for voting changes from the DOJ. While this may not be achievable with our current Congress, it is possible in future ones and let me remind you that it is not likely that compulsory voting will be brought into the US anytime soon. This solution would fix the voter disenfranchisement problem without doing the other negative things CV would likely do.

Second, while it may not be possible for me to prove that non voters are less informed, it is sort of obvious that this would be the case because as I stated, there is no cure for apathy and if someone does not care enough to regularly go to the polls, why would they care enough to become an informed voter? Of course there are exceptions to this, however, a larger amount of non voters are presumably uninformed than regular voters in our current system. CV would simply flood the system with apathetic voters who jeapardize the validity of the result.
Posted by Ignopius 3 years ago
Tbh I feel like I won this debate. Con had no real response to the argument that only through CV can we really protect voter groups from being disenfranchised. Also there con doesn't prove voluntary voters are always more informed and doesn't address the idea that "there's always going to be someone more informed" argument. Ultimately no compelling reason to vote con. If you want to protect the voting rights of poor and minority groups vote pro.
Posted by theHomelessPanda 3 years ago
Admittedly, Pro had a long way to go to prove to me that the coercive force of the state would somehow improve the voting system, but from an objective standpoint, the Pro failed to effectively Rebut several crucial points the Con made, and seems to focus on the idea that CV would somehow increase quality in results and decrease polarization.

However, Pro made a great assertion that CV eliminates voter suppression, but fails to address the Con"s idea that this does not indicate a true increase in quality, Con had my vote after these statements; "It is the responsibility of voters to make their decision based on a fair assessment of the candidates and their positions, as well as the positive and negative affects of the policy goals they will strive to achieve. If this level of knowledge is not present in many voters now, how will it help to increase the number of uninformed voters that take part in elections by mandating that all eligible voters vote? This will reduce the quality of elections and could have dangerous if not drastic consequences for all."

Con was able to present much more convincing and effective logic and sources to back his ideas, and therefore was the winner in my eyes.
Posted by Ignopius 3 years ago
Before I debated this topic, I was strongly opposed to CV. Afterwards, I realized the only way that you can stop politicians from restricting voting rights is to pass a law requiring everyone to vote. To me having a system in which better represented the majority of the people's opinion was more important than the freedom lost. In myu LD case I expanded more upon the idea of liberty lost for societal gain, but not so much in this debate because I wanted to keep it easy to understand.
Posted by ChuckieH 3 years ago
I decided not to do debate this year but I will likely be doing it in one of the next couple years. I honestly am interested in how this one turns out because I am not completely sure about how I feel with regards to compulsory voting. I probably would have taken up the challenge regardless of which side you took.
Posted by Ignopius 3 years ago
Yeah, I'm a highschool LD debater. I have a case and everything on this topic but don't currently have it with me cause I'm out of town lol.
Posted by NorthDebater 3 years ago
it was the lincoln douglas topic last month, i debate At North High. And just post the first round for acceptance! Then make your case once someone accepts.
Posted by JamesClift 3 years ago
Hey do you do debate? Because that was the topic for Public Forum debate just this and last month I believe. Cool!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by theHomelessPanda 3 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Judgements will be posted in the comments.