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In a deomcracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/23/2014 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,286 times Debate No: 55324
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (15)
Votes (1)




The rounds will go as follows:
Round 1 Neg: States the rules
Round 1 Pro: States his arguments

Round 2 Neg: States arguments and rebuts to Pro's case
Round 2 Pro: Rebuts to Con's case

Round 3: Neg rebuts to Pro's case
Round 3: Pro once again rebuts to neg's case

10,000 character limit. 3 days to argue(per round).

Good Luck!


I would like to thank the opponent for instigating this debate.

Before presenting my arguments, I would like to define several terms in the debate motion.

Debate Motion: In a Democratic State, voting ought to be compulsory.
Burden of Proof: In a Democratic State, voting ought to be compulsory.

But then my friends, what is democracy? An acceptable and simple definition of democracy is this: we choose who rules us. However, there are many faults with this definition; under fascism, the people chose who ruled them by participating in a harsh revolution. Fascism is definitely not democracy; with this said, what is then “democracy”?

Abraham Lincoln defined Democracy as a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” [1]

Oxford Dictionary defines as “a system of government by the whole population or all the eligible members of a state[2]

With two definitions of democracy stating that democracy is chosen by the “people” which usually means the whole population, as stated in the Oxford definition. With these definitions, we could exclude “representative democracies” because in representative democracies, the people don’t choose the head of state directly. This debate will be based purely upon direct democracies only, such as that of Athens, or Switzerland. Therefore, whenever I mention democracy, I refer to direct democracy.

Voting is defined by Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “a way of usually formal expression of opinion or will in response to a proposed decision; especially one given as an indication of approval or disapproval of a proposal, motion, or candidate for office” [3] Therefore, we would rightfully include voting in plebiscites, referendums and so forth (not limiting it to only head of state voting)

Compulsory is defined as (by the Merriam Webster Dictionary) “required by law/rule” An antonym to voluntary, which means not required by law/rule. Therefore, we can exclude the voting systems of many representative democracies.

Argument One: Compulsory voting is democratic

P1. All definitions of democracy states that democracy is a government elected by the people

P2. In many democracies, it is a duty (because of democracy’s definitions) to make decisions

C1. Not implementing compulsory voting is undemocratic

Let us expand on this argument. If country x ought to be as democratic as, say, Athens, the cradle of democracy, then country x must implement compulsory voting. Many democratic philosophers know well; Athens was an unequivocally democratic state which did particularly well during its existence. Athenians held that it was every citizen’s duty, as a citizen of a democratic state, to participate in decision making. Those who refused to do so faced heavy fines; it was a duty of every citizen to vote [4]. A democracy only functions best when the government is truly representative of the decisions made; it functions best when the citizens themselves debate with each other and make decisions based upon the thoughts of the entire community. In some democratic communities, voting turnout can be low; in some cases, less than half of the eligible voting population elects a leader. This leads to a lack of votes; for example, if country x has y number of eligible voters, and ½ of y (eligible voters) decided to vote, then the head of state elected wouldn’t be democratically elected, but elected by a half of the nation; this was what happened in the United States of America, where 43% of all eligible voters decided to stay home in 2012 [5], and on a larger scale, Thailand, in which 46.79% of the population came out to vote during the 2014 February Elections [6]. We have also extended the limits of compulsory voting to not only presidential/prime ministerial voting, but plebiscites; 100 or close to 100% turnout in plebiscites could be a matter of death/life; if the death penalty was to be repealed, but say 30-40% of the voting population decided to vote, and the result was that it shouldn’t be repealed, then the lives of many would be endangered.

Argument Two: Compulsory Voting is Patriotic!

1st Syllogism:

P1. All patriots have a duty to express their opinions to save the nation

P2. All citizens of democratic states have a duty to vote

C1. All voters are patriotic

2nd Syllogism:

P1. All people who decided not to vote are either dissatisfied (and don’t want to participate in it) with politics are lazy (most of them are lazier)

P2. They have thus adopted the attitude of “Why should I go vote today?” rather than “How should my nation progress?”

C1. Some people who do not vote are unpatriotic, while others lose their only chance to satisfy themselves with society

Quite self-explanatory; what better way to serve your democratic nation than to go vote and voice your opinions for the progress of the nation you have for so long serve? Either one who decides to abstain in expressing their opinions are selfish, or they are unsatisfied. Let us look at both groups now; the unsatisfied section need change. But what change can they do when they have the opportunity to change their respective nations, but decide to resort to other means to do so or decide to keep their mouths shut on the status quo. An example of this would be the Thai People’s Democratic Reform Front, whose tactics of boycotting elections have proven to be very undemocratic in nature. The PDRC have acted very undemocratically; as explained before, a democratic state requires almost complete/high turnout. The PDRC has denied this to Thai voters, giving the nation a shameful 46% turnout rate as explained above. However, those who decide to not vote because they are lazy are then faced with harsher criticism. Expressed briefly through this quote by famous Greek philosopher and historian, Thucidydes (during Pericle’s Funeral Oration) We do not say that a man who takes no interest in politics is a man who minds his own business; we say that he has no business here at all.[7] He says this in high support of the Athenian compulsory voting system. Let us analyze this quote efficiently; a US citizen has the duty of “participating in the democratic process” [8]. The Athenians also thought so too. To not oblige by your duties are unpatriotic in nature; to ignore the duties of your native lands (while living in a democratic state) should be considered a very undemocratic and unwise choice. To not vote because of selfishness is a betrayal to one’s nation; any person who ought not to vote has no business in a democratic society, as they are not living by their obligations as a democratic citizens.

Argument Three: Compulsory Voting destroys class barriers by giving voice to the poor

1st Syllogism

P1. In some democratic societies, the poor do not give a voice because they have nothing to vote for (so they say)

P2. This allows elections to be dominated by the rich elite

C1. In a voluntary voting society, the poor do not have a voice

2nd Syllogism

P1. All compulsory voting societies require all citizens to vote, never minding their class and all

P2. This gives the poor something to vote for

C1. In a compulsory voting society, the poor voice their opinions through the ballot box

Compulsory voting breaks down class barriers and unite one’s nation by creating a sense of community in which everyone has a voice. In Afghanistan, where class inequality exists highly, a man was once asked “why did you not vote?” His reply was shocking “I live in a tent with my family. I go to work and earn very little per day. Why should I care about politics?” His reply, albeit shocking, is very typical of a poor person. A poor person thinks he has no voice; he thinks that we live in a Jeffersonian Democracy, where “the rich’s votes only count” and abides by that law. He thinks that his condition is unchangeable via the ballot box, and many took the radical alternative, the bullet; this explains many revolutions and insurgencies in societies where class differences are high. But we can change this; when the poor are made to understand that their voices count, they would hoard themselves to the ballot boxes. But they can never do so; they are not convinced by the rhetoric-filled voices of suit-clad politicians. They must be coerced to think that their voices actually matter; compulsory voting introduces this. They give a poor a sense that their voice actually counts, and that they were wrong all this time about not voting because “a mice who squeaks in a room filled with shouts squeaks to no avail”


Compulsory voting is democratic, patriotic and breaks class barriers. We ought to implement it.





[4] Malkopoulou, Anthoula, Compulsory Voting in Greece: a history of concepts in motion



[7] Thucydides, The Peloponnesian Wars, Book 1:22 (Rex Warner translation)

Debate Round No. 1


**I thank my opponent for accepting this debate. So I will first present my arguments, and then move on to rebut to pro's case.**


For the definition of democracy, I agree with my opponents Oxford Dictionary definition

ought - Used to indicate duty or correctness, typically when criticizing someone’s actions [1]

Contention 1: Voting is a right. NOT a duty

Africa News Services States:

"Voting should be regarded as a right, which must be differentiated from a duty. As a state citizen, it is the government and other elected representatives who have a duty towards me. This is the cornerstone principle of democracy upon which our electoral system and other democratic institutions are, or should be, designed and built. Politicians should remain accountable to the people they represent, not the other way round." [2]

Because voting is a right, there should be no need to compel the citizens themselves to vote. Similar to all other rights, such as freedom of speech, or the right to bear arms, you are under no obligation to carry it out. For example, the second amendment of the U.S. constitution states that we have the right to bear arms. This does NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO BEAR ARMS. IT SIMPLY MEANS YOU CAN BEAR ARMS IF YOU WANT TO. Likewise, Voting is also a right. This does NOT MEAN YOU HAVE TO VOTE. IT SIMPLY MEANS YOU CAN VOTE IF YOU WANT TO.

Contention 2: Compulsory voting does not create informed voters

From, an article states:

"Common sense tells us that mandating something doesn"t have a profound impact on human behavior. For example, you can require American high school students to study Bach and Beethoven, but no one seriously expects that to supplant their preference for Bieber or the Beastie Boys. Mandates can change behavior, but they can"t change the human heart and mind, no matter how much liberals wish they could. And given that misinformed, disengaged voters would pay no penalty for voting " nor receive any direct benefit for casting an informed ballot over an uninformed one " it"s hard to believe that any call for mandatory voting is anything but a cynical plea for more power." [3]

Due to the fact that compulsory voting does not create informed voters, there is no reason for them to vote. If uninformed voters were to vote, they would most likely just randomly pick a party and just vote for them, instead of actually basing their knowledge on any facts. It is best if they are left alone.

Contention 3: If voters are not left alone, then it simply leads to Donkey Votes:

"Another consequence of mandatory voting is the possible high number of "random votes". Voters who are voting against their free will may check off a candidate at random, particularly the top candidate on the ballot. The voter does not care whom they vote for as long as the government is satisfied that they fulfilled their civic duty. What effect does this unmeasureable category of random votes have on the legitimacy of the democratically elected government?"[4]

If voters are uninformed, Donkey Votes will increase. Because the people that don't want to vote are simply doing it because they have to, and since they will not be penalized for who they vote for, the will be a lot more likely in voting randomly.

Contention 4: Encourages Spoiled Ballots

In Australia:

"Australia also has a much higher rate of spoiled ballots than nearly any other democracy. There were 500,000 such ballots (out of 10 million cast) in this month's election. These include protest votes and those cast by recent immigrants who were confused by the notoriously complicated ballots. It does not include "donkey votes," so named because apathetic voters play pin the tail on the donkey at the polling station, randomly making their selections." [5]

500,000 blank votes! And that DOESN'T include donkey votes. If that many people are willing to have blank votes, then what's the point of them voting in the first place/?

**Le'ts move on to Pro's Case now**

My opponent says that Compulsory voting is democratic. But how? Compulsory voting wouldn't make a better democracy!

According to an article written by the National Review Online, the author Jonah states:

"And it’s worth noting that we are talking about making nonvoting a crime. If a citizen refuses to vote or pay the fine " and countless would " he would be breaking the law. How far would the government go to compel these citizens to pay up or comply? This is how the "experts" would make democracy healthier?" [6]

The act of not voting should not be considered unlawful. Once again the fact that voting is NOT A DUTY. It's a right, which means it's not compulsory. Also, compulsory voting is not making society democratic just because it's forcing people to vote.

Next my opponent says that compulsory voting is patriotic. Definition of Patriotic - Having or expressing devotion to and vigorous support for one’s country [7]

The word patriotic is stated nowhere in the resolution. Also, just because voting is patriotic doesn’t mean we HAVE to do it. Fighting in the military is patriotic. No one is ever forced to go to the military.

As for compulsory voting destroying class barriers. I do agree that it gives the poor a chance to vote. HOWEVER, does that mean they will make an informed decision? Just because poor people are able to vote, that simply brings more people to the polls, but I doesn’t necessarily mean that the vote will be an educated one.

**I put in a LOT of research into this one. I hope my opponent will come back with a good argument. Good Luck!**


[2] [PorchesY4; Should Govt Enact a Compulsory Voting Law?Y4; Africa News ServiceY4; 12 October 2011Y4; Gale Group


[3] Y4;retrieved 19 August 2013]

[4] [MariaY4; Program DirectorY4; International Institute for Democracy and Electoral AssistanceY4; Mandatory Voting Can

Lead to a Range of ProblemsY4; Voting RightsY4; 2008Y4; Gale Group databases]

[5] [EricY4; Writer and CommentatorY4; You Must Vote. It's the LawY4; SlateY4; 29 October 2004Y4;; retrieved 19 August 2013]

[6] [JonahY4; Editor in ChiefY4; Coerced voting wouldn"t make a healthier democracyY4; National Review OnlineY4; 27 June

2012Y4;; retrieved 19 August 2013]




On the Validity of Voting: Right or Duty?

The opponent has stated that voting is a right, not a duty, because you earned a voting status. However, as explained before, many effective democracies hold that voting is a duty. The United States, ironically, holds that a duty of a US Citizen is to “participate in the democratic process” while Athenians held that voting was compulsory in a democracy because citizens of a democratic society must work together as a people rather than persons (in terms of society) for the society to progress. Voting is an ethical issue; we cannot and will never agree on compulsory voting. However, the matter of it being enacted must be looked upon. Let us look at an analogy for a second; if you decide to order, say a salad, at a restaurant and you are alone, your individual decisions does not a affect anyone else. However, say you are the Food Czar, and you have to order food for the whole table. Henceforth, you are forced to make decisions based on the needs of the whole. You wouldn’t order steak, for fear that a Halal-dietary follower would be present. This analogy also applies for an entire electorate and all; every vote counts. Your decisions effect the whole community. Every vote counts. A true democratic society is a society where everyone gathers and makes decisions. Athens is a perfect example of this; its people were educated, very philosophical, and engaged in many public debates (In fact, Gorgias and Republic by Plato were dominated by intense debates). Athens required every person to vote. Singapore is also a highly effective democracy; voting is compulsory there. As we can see, the number of compulsory voting-states that have a highly efficient democratic state correlate, because voters here understand that voting is a civic duty.


P1. All definitions of democracy states that democracy is a government elected by the people

P2. In many democracies, it is a duty (because of democracy’s definitions) to make decisions

C1. Not implementing compulsory voting is undemocratic

Australia and Compulsory Voting

The opponent has stated that 500,000 Australian voters chose to submit "blank votes" However, this is only 5% of the population we are talking about. The minority. Australia has a very effective democracy when compared with other nations; are we to ignore the efficiency of Australia's democracy just because the minority of the Australian people chose to submit blank votes? Apart from this, voting will create a more educated electorate. Let us take this analogy for example:

A student has to study for a test, then he has to study all the resources that are provided to him. If he doesn't do this, then he fails the test and get bad marks. He does not want this; he wants his grades to progress. This makes him study harder and harder until he finally understands all his material. Coming back to the voting issue, the test in this case is voting. The resources in this case are the political parties. Failing the test means that the nation/the people do not progress forward. As state before, Australia has created a highly efficient democracy through the enacting of compulsory voting. Athens also did this; Athenians proved that compulsory voting creates more informed and more philosophical people. As stated before, Athenians loved debating and following their views.

Therefore, we can conclude with the syllogism:

P1. All countries in which compulsory voting is enforced have a highly educated electorate
P2. All countries in which compulsory is enforced have highly efficient democratic institutions
P3. Compulsory voting creates this by the want for progress and prosperity
C1. Compulsory voting creates a highly-educated electorate and highly efficient democratic institutions

The Act of Voting: Follows Democracy

Let us look at the two definitions of democracy that I have provided. Abraham Lincoln said that democracy was the government of the people, by the people, and for the people. By saying that compulsory voting shouldn't be enacted is like saying that capitalism should function without money; a democratic society represents the people, of all classes, all races and all sexes. What good is a democracy without the proper representation of the people? This returns to my point on duty and voting; a democratic society was created upon the assumption that democratic states were elected by the people. By the people doesn't mean the "educated voters" but the "voters" Voters run the same ship; the ship of the nation. If voting turnout is low, then the nation fails to gather a politically legitimate government.

Class Barriers: Must be broken

Many poor people simply do not vote because they are too scared to do so. For example, a poor person wants change, but he does not know how he could change. Compulsory Voting, when enacted, makes the poor seem as if their voices are wanted; the poor want to become rich, or at least achieve a better life than what they have now. They would use their newfound voice to voice change; let us look at Singapore for example. Singapore is not a case of wanting change, but a case of wanting to preserve the status quo; they wanted to keep the PAP in action. In the first elections, the PAP won a huge majority because of the work they had done for the Singaporean people and how the Singaporean people wanted to keep this. A huge majority of the voters voting for the PAP were middle-class and lower-working class workers; quite easily, the lower classes! If voting were not compulsory, they would have thought that they had no voice anyway, so what is the point? Democracy is not a bourgeoisie concept, but many people are anti-democratic because they think so.

Time restrictions have deluded the quality of my arguments. I would like to apologize to the opponent for that. I hope this is enough for him to rebut.

Debate Round No. 2


KingDebater369 forfeited this round.


Aww that sucks. Vote pro everyone!
Debate Round No. 3
15 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Did you delete the request?
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
I sent you a request. Accept it. Or if feel like you want to take 2-3 days so you can build your case, and then accept and post... I guess that's fine too lol.
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
ok - I will challenge you now.
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Or I'll challenge you if you like
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
Thank you for not turning it into a troll lol. I want this debate to be serious, because I think I can actually win this one XD
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Just challenge me now, so that way your argument won't be stronger after debating Kc1999
Posted by Kc1999 2 years ago
The temptation to turn this into a troll debate is so high! jk I won't
Posted by KingDebater369 2 years ago
yeah sure. lol - i'm going to post the exact same arguments (except for the rubuttals of course) in this debate that I will in your debate. [if that's ok...]
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Posted by Conservative101 2 years ago
Well if you want to challenge me, I'm willing to debate this topic.
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by baus 2 years ago
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Total points awarded:04 
Reasons for voting decision: FF with equal S&G and sources.