The Instigator
rpardina
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Danielle
Con (against)
Winning
2 Points

In the legal context, voting should be compulsory.

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Danielle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/15/2016 Category: Politics
Updated: 12 months ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 279 times Debate No: 91282
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (1)
Votes (2)

 

rpardina

Pro

I will be arguing that voting should be compulsory in the legal context.
My opponent would be arguing that voting should not be compulsory.

Voting: 'the official choice that you make in an election, meeting, etc., by casting a ballot, raising your hand, speaking your choice aloud, etc.' (Merriam-Webster)

Should: 'used in auxiliary function to express obligation, propriety, or expediency' (ibid)

Compulsory: 'required or compelled by law' (ibid)

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Argument 1: In a democracy, voting is usually expressed as an individual's right to choose who leads the state in which he/she is a citizen. This right should be an obligation because:

- It is not only the individual who will be affected by the choice not to vote. Ultimately, the consequences of non-votes fall on society as a whole. As such, the society should be able to impose the obligation on the individual (i.e. to vote).
Danielle

Con

Many thanks to my opponent for beginning this debate.

Pro's single argument is that because all of society would (allegedly) be affected by one's choice not to vote, society should be able to force voting obligations on the individual.

Essentially, this argument rests on the fallacious standard of tyranny of the majority: that the desires of the majority of people morally trump the desires of the individual, and/or that the majority's standard should necessarily be enforced [1].

You'll also notice that Pro doesn't actually prove that someone not voting impacts everyone in a significant or meaningful way. Pro should have that burden in this debate - especially if that is the crux of her singular argument.

This country supposedly values liberty and individual freedom. We have the freedom of expression and that expression includes freedom to exhibit lack of expression or lack of voting. Many minarchists, anti-federalists, voluntarists, or people disgusted with the entire system (including the very concept of voting in general) should not be forced to go against their views. Neither should people who truly dislike all candidates and/or the positions they take. Nobody should have to be forced to vote for the "lesser evil" if they believe that is still a vote for evil.

Indeed many people make substantial arguments about how voting is unwarranted. Anti-electoralism is an ethical or ideological opposition to voting. People across political and religious ideologies believe that voting is coercive, unjust and ineffective [2].

Henry David Thoreau once said, "Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merely, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then; but it is irresistible when it clogs by its whole weight." In other words, one can influence their life and political sphere through actions other than voting. The choices one makes in their every day lives, i.e. where to shop, where to divert their funds, what endeavors to support, etc. have more of a direct influence on their lives than casting a vote that can be negated by another person's vote.

Anti-electoralists also propose alternative methods of political influence, including the spread of awareness; separatism; labor organizing; or even outright revolution [3]. Many movements have been successful through these processes without voting [4].

Alex Guerrero argues that in order for elections to be valid, they must be free, regular, competitive and fair. Without this perfect system, officials are likely to be able to avoid accountability mechanisms that should be built into the democratic system. Citizens' ability to monitor the behaviors of their representatives and therefore vote or protest in line with their own values is also diminished by conduct [5].

Voter fraud is another problem, but what about voter ignorance? It can be reasonably argued that the vast majority of society is completely ignorant on the very important topics that politicians influence, including but not limited to foreign policy and economics. Financial markets are notoriously complex, to the point where even the experts have an incredibly hard time understanding the ins and outs [6]. Yet Pro suggests that ignorant (and self-interested) voters ought to have a say on these very serious issues that affect us all, despite their limited knowledge and significant bias.

I'll leave it at that for now. I look forward to my opponent's response.

[1] http://www.sevenoaksphilosophy.org...
[2] http://rationalwiki.org...
[3] http://rationalwiki.org...
[4] http://thepublicschool.org...
[5] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[6] http://www.investopedia.com...
Debate Round No. 1
rpardina

Pro

I thank my opponent for her timely and interesting response. Pardon my inexperience; I was not sure how much detail and argument to provide in the first round.

My opponent requires that I "prove that someone not voting impacts everyone in a significant or meaningful way." I accept this burden.

Her contention that, "people across political and religious ideologies believe that voting is coercive, unjust and ineffective," is irrelevant. This debate is not about what some sectors of society believe, but rather, what should be imposed by the law.

Even if this concept is relevant, it is flawed in the context of this debate. Quoting from my opponent"s reference for her assertion, the anti-electorialism "ideology advocates revolution and views voting as cooperation with a system they oppose and wish to overthrow, and elections as a sham serving only the interests of the ruling class." The question at hand asks what the law should impose. Imposing "ideology" which "advocates revolution" is not consistent with the law"s general purpose " to maintain order and standards in society.

My opponent also argues that "one can influence their life and political sphere through actions other than voting" (e.g. deciding where to shop, labour organizing, etc.) This is also irrelevant. It matters not what other variables influences one"s lives, the question is whether this variable (not voting) influences society as a whole.

I will now move on to her other assertions:

1)"The fallacious standard of tyranny of the majority: that the desires of the majority of people morally trump the desires of the individual, and/or that the majority's standard should necessarily be enforced"

"Fallacious": tending to deceive or mislead (Merriam-Webster)

"Tyranny": an oppressive, harsh, or unjust act (ibid)

"Majority: a number that is greater than half of a total (ibid)

In light of these definitions, allow me to rephrase my opponent"s assertion:
"The standard and desires of the relevant population"s greater half should not trump the individual"s desires. This is oppressive, harsh or unjust. This standard tends to deceive or mislead."

In the legal context, the desires of the greater half of the population should trump the individual"s desires. This standard does not deceive or mislead. It is what the law has historically been for.

Exhibit A: Criminal law " a serial rapist, who desires to take women"s virginity against their will, is locked up. Rationale A - to protect society from the rapist potentially repeating his actions. Rationale B " to deter others considering the same action, thereby protecting society. (https://marisluste.files.wordpress.com... )

Exhibit B: Taxation " The commissioner fights to tax a multi-million-dollar corporation (who of course, wishes to avoid liability for certain items) in order to collect more funds for the government. Rationale A " so that more funds are available for public use, ultimately benefitting society as a whole. (https://www.ato.gov.au...)

2)Voter ignorance

Ignorantia juris non excusat: Ignorance is not a defence. In modern times, ignorance can be a very limited defence so let"s entertain it.
*The voters should not be obligated to vote because they might be ignorant.

This is unsound policy. In the long run, it would inevitably promote:
-A society generally disinterested in the affairs of their government
-Negligent citizens who do not cast a vote to ward off unsuitable candidates

On a public policy basis, should not the law prevent this?

3)"We have the freedom of expression and that expression includes freedom to exhibit lack of expression or lack of voting."

This is very interesting. I thank my opponent for this point. Again allow me to get into the heart of your argument:
"Mandating voting is against personal liberty " the liberty to choose what one will and will not do."

I partly agree with this statement. But again the point of this debate is not to argue what is, but rather, what should be. Should the law mandate one to vote even if it is against personal liberty? The answer is clearly in the affirmative based on the above discussion.

Furthermore, while I am not American myself, I doubt that your revolution and hence, the framing of your Constitution, is merely about letting one do as one pleases. I am of the view that they are about your liberty to govern and represent yourselves. (http://www.archives.gov...)

That is all for now. In the next round I will explore my reasoning on why "not voting impacts everyone in a significant or meaningful way" (the burden). I patiently await my opponent"s response.
Danielle

Con

I appreciate Pro's well thought out reply, and I look forward to continuing this interesting discussion.

As a reminder, my opponent's singular argument is that because all of society would (allegedly) be affected by one's choice not to vote, society should force voting obligations on the individual.

My response

1. The desires of the majority of people do not necessarily dictate what is righteous
2. Compulsory voting ignores the values of liberty and freedom
3. Anti-electoralists are morally opposed to voting
4. We can influence politics in ways besides voting
5. Voting is problematic and therefore its benefits are exaggerated
6. Ignorant voters should not be trusted to make the best decisions that affect all

And finally, I pointed out that Pro must prove voting impacts all of society in a meaningful way.

Point 1 - My opponent claims that tyranny of the majority is a perfectly valid standard of morality. While s/he cites the definition of fallacious, the philosophical and legal application describes a breach in logic. A logical fallacy is a pattern of reasoning rendered invalid by a flaw in its logical structure that can neatly be expressed in a standard logic system, for example propositional logic. An argument that is formally fallacious is always considered wrong [1].

Tyranny of the majority is considered a logical fallacy. It involves a scenario in which decisions made by a majority place its interests above those of an individual or minority group, constituting active oppression [2]. A few centuries ago, the majority of American citizens believed that slavery was moral. However just because the majority supported this oppression does not mean the oppression was just.

Points 2 and 3 - In many cases a disliked ethnic, religious, political, or racial group is deliberately penalized by the majority element acting through the democratic process [3]. This means their individual liberties and freedoms are ignored, freedoms that this country is supposedly founded on and values. Pro claims that "This debate is not about what some sectors of society believe, but rather, what should be imposed by the law." But what people believe is absolutely important, because people should be able to express their beliefs (or express their beliefs through inaction, i.e. not voting). That is our fundamental human right.

Meanwhile, compulsory voting mandates unpaid labor. It compels people to take time - which is a valuable resource - and transportation to vote against their will. People are not slaves; the government should not have the ability to impose on our personal freedoms. Pro claims that the law should be able to trump our individual liberty if it is in the best interest of society. Ignoring the fact that this perpetuates tyranny of the majority, the fact is Pro hasn't proven that the benefit to society is great enough to warrant the government's breach in personal freedoms.

"Most economists agree that voting is one of the best methods for the general public to transmit information to political authorities on the value of government services. But there are costs and benefits associated with voting. Becoming politically informed is costly, as is taking the time to register and go to the polls to vote. These costs are not large, but they are much larger than any private benefits realized by shifting political decisions in the direction the voter prefers. A benefit of that sort is effectively zero given the miniscule probability that any one vote will decide the outcome of an election, particularly a state or national election" [4].

Point 4 - Pro claims, "It matters not what other variables influences one's lives, the question is whether this variable (not voting) influences society as a whole." I'll begin by clarifying that Pro does not win the debate if s/he proves that voting affects society. Instead Pro must prove that voting affects society so much to the point where the government should take legal action and compel people to act against their will by force. I've argued that people can influence their society directly whereas voting is indirect. I've also highlighted other problems with voting (more about that later). But the point here is that even if we accept that individuals have a moral obligation to benefit their society, I don't believe that voting once in awhile would be as effective as other forced contributions. For example forced volunteer work would be more useful if we truly did have an obligation to benefit other people's lives (which we don't, and Pro has not proven as much).

Point 5 - In the last round, I highlighted Alex Guerrero's argument that in order for elections to be valid, they must be free, regular, competitive and fair. Without this perfect system, officials are likely to be able to avoid accountability mechanisms that should be built into the democratic system. Citizens' ability to monitor the behaviors of their representatives and therefore vote or protest in line with their own values is also diminished by conduct. Therefore, voting is problematic and the benefits of voting are exaggerated. I mentioned this because if Pro cannot prove that voting is really significant (and I don't believe s/he has) then we have no reason to accept that it should be compulsory.

Indeed, many point out that our votes are statistically USELESS. Reasons your vote might not even count include lack of accuracy; the fact that where you live probably makes your vote useless (gerrymandering is another story); and most significantly the Electoral College, who might not even vote on your behalf or even care what your opinion is [5].

Point 6 - Pro claims that not forcing people to vote promotes voter ignorance. However Pro has not proven that compulsory voting will promote knowledge and information seeking. On the contrary, we can assume that if people don't care enough to vote, they won't care enough to research the votes that they don't care enough to cast in the first place. Compulsory voting therefore encourages more uninformed voting. Not only is voter ignorance already a problem -- and Pro hasn't argued the fact that the vast majority of the population is not knowledgeable enough to affect important policy -- but compulsory voting suggests that everyone, regardless of how little they know or don't know, should put their two-cents in.

What about the mentally challenged? What about the illiterate, uneducated or those with learning/psychological disorders? We should not create more work and regulation than necessary. If people want to vote, okay, but if they don't (or do not think they should or are capable) then that should be their choice.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[2] https://en.wikipedia.org...
[3] https://publius2013.wordpress.com...
[4] http://www.econedlink.org...
[5] http://hubpages.com...
Debate Round No. 2
rpardina

Pro

rpardina forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited the last round.

Please extend my arguments.
Debate Round No. 3
rpardina

Pro

rpardina forfeited this round.
Danielle

Con

Unfortunately my opponent has forfeited the majority of the debate.

Please extend my arguments. Thanks, all.
Debate Round No. 4
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by Dialogue_Duelist 1 year ago
Dialogue_Duelist
I'm sorry but don't Americans already have a society generally disinterested in the affairs of their government. And negligent citizens who do not cast a vote to ward off unsuitable candidates. It appears that way from the outside.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by ssadi 12 months ago
ssadi
rpardinaDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro forfeited 2 out of 4 rounds, so conduct goes to Con!
Vote Placed by dsjpk5 12 months ago
dsjpk5
rpardinaDanielleTied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro ff many times, so conduct to Con.