The Instigator
Pro (for)
8 Points
The Contender
Con (against)
27 Points

RESOLVED: Television has had more positive effects than negative

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Post Voting Period
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after 7 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 10/7/2011 Category: Society
Updated: 6 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 17,214 times Debate No: 18659
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (3)
Votes (7)




This is for Tier 1 in DetectableNinja's debate tourney, Gold Division.


1. Drops will count as concessions.

2. Semantic or abusive arguments will not be counted.

3. Burden of proof will be shared.

4. New arguments brought in the last round will not be counted.

5. R1 is for acceptance and clarifications. Argumentation begins in R2.


Television- a telecommunication medium for transmitting and receiving moving images that can be monochrome (black-and-white) or colored, with accompanying sound.[1]

Positive effects- Include but are not necessarily limited to societal welfare, economic prosperity, increased education, etc.

Negative effects- I will leave the definition of this up to my opponent as the negative effects of television will be part of his case.

I wish my esteemed opponent Raisor the best of luck in this debate and look forward to an interesting clash of ideas.




Do it to it.
Debate Round No. 1


Widespread news coverage

Prior to widespread television ownership, common methods of learning about the day to day happenings around the globe, in the country, or in one's community were mostly restricted to news print media or radio. As with traditional news print, which are generally not published more than once a day, news was slow to circulate. Now, since there are news source that operate throughout most of the day(CNN, Fox News, etc.) people are given access to breaking news within hours or even minutes of the event happening. Contrast this with not getting the information until the next day at the earliest and the difference is clear.

Emergencies and natural disasters

During emergencies, from the international down to the local, people are now given minute by minute information as to the status of the emergency. When radio was the fastest means of receiving news, vocal description was all that one could rely on to guage the severity of a situation while now, as with television media where news organizations often send field reporters in to help audiences visualize the situaion, the viewer is given much more descriptive and possibly useful information.

Television and education

Television has also allowed for a larger educational market. For instance, there are television stations such as the Discovery and History channels that are devoted almost exclusively to educational programming. Programing of this nature ranges from analysis of the American Civil War to the different cultures of Sub-Saharan Africa. Television media is making it more and more possible for an average person with minimal forma eductional experience to become knowledgable in areas such as history, physics, zoology, sociology, etc.

Children and education

Besides educational channels aimed mostly at adults, there is a large market for infant and toddler education in television. Channels such as PBS and Noggin(now NickJr.) offer a large amount of child friendly programming specifically designed to help teach infants and toddlers verbal and social skills, reading skills, and general social lessons. Children can now be exposed to basic educational lessons normally not available until kindergarden or pre-school.


In the interest of making this debate readable to viewers and not argument spamming my opponent, I will limit my first round to these arguments. So in conclusion, television allows faster accounts of news on international, national, and local levels whereas, making it much more flexible than traditional print media. It also provides a very large amount of educational material for younger children not yet enrolled in school and for curious adults without higher levels of formal education. I await my opponent's response.


1. Public Health
a) "Prolonged Television Viewing…" Harvard School of Public Heal (6-11).
"For each additional two hours of TV viewing per day, the risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature mortality increased by 20, 15, and 13 percent respectively. Based on disease incidence in the United States, Hu and Gr´┐Żntved estimated that among 100,000 individuals per year, each 2-hour increment in TV viewing per day was associated with 176 new cases of type 2 diabetes, 38 new cases of fatal cardiovascular disease, and 104 new cases of all-cause mortality."

With over 300 million Americans, this amounts to 312,000 premature deaths per year directly attributable to television. Additionally, consider the huge economic impact of treating 528000 cases of diabetes and 114000 cases of cardiovascular disease.

b) Health related TV shows misportray the realities of medicine. Shows instill unrealistic expectations that discourage long term health goals. Additionally, these shows are often used to market pharmaceuticals. This profit driven advocacy of pharmaceuticals is problematic since the patient's health is not the primary interest and the advocacy is not balanced with real expectations of the drug's performance. In a study for the Kaiser Family Foundation "The ‘Reality' of Health":

"Reality shows may provide inaccurate or unhealthy information to viewers (for example, showcasing multiple plastic surgeries or more rapid weight loss than most experts would recommend). It is one thing to inspire and provide encouragement, yet another to foster the unrealistic expectations implied by many RTV shows. Watching somebody on The Biggest Loser drop 100 pounds in weeks may give the impression that it is a realistic and safe goal, when it is in fact neither. Viewers who see people accomplish such dramatic results may become disheartened if they can't duplicate them, and as a result such people may be less likely to commit to the long-term and much more gradual changes that are recommended by health professionals…

Health-based reality shows also offer another opportunity for "stealth" marketing, with pharmaceutical companies and others placing messages in programming and on related websites. Some shows may also feed into the notion of a "magical" solution to the public's unmet health needs, by ignoring the sociopolitical context of medicine and health care."

2. Civic Disengagement
a) The Civic Ideal
Television in its present state in the US is antithetical to an engaged public citizenry. I posit the civic ideal: Citizens that are civically informed and active. This means citizens are aware of the issues that affect their communities and actively pursue the betterment of these communities. The civic ideal is crucial to a successful democracy- it teaches the character traits and knowledge needed to prevent democratic stagnation.

(J.B. Watson, Austin State University, "A Justification of the Civic Engagement Model,")
"The civic engagement of ordinary citizens with voluntary associations, social institutions, and government in local communities is a central feature of strong democracies. Further, a fundamental feature of democratic governmental structure is its relationship to civil society, defined as "voluntary social activity not compelled by the state" … Through voluntary participation in civil society associations at the local and regional level, citizens pursue activities that potentially serve the public good. Through this rudimentary civic engagement, citizens learn the attitudes, habits, skills, and knowledge foundational to the democratic process-(Patrick, 1998). Unfortunately, in 1998 the National Commission on Civic Renewal (NCCR) highlighted the declining quantity and quality of civic engagement at all levels of American life. A number of other studies concur on the decline of involvement in civic activities (Bahlmueller, 1997; McGrath, 2001; Putnam, 1995)."

b) The key to solving this political disenfranchisement is civic engagement- active participation in the political system in order to reclaim a sense of ownership over politics on a global and local level. Civic Engagement doesn't just mean voting- it means participating in political dialogue and picking up the shovel to improve your community. The passive reception of political information from TV is radically opposed to Civic Engagement.

c) TV News uniquely causes political cynicism when compared to print media:
(Matthijs Elenbaas, Amsterdam School of Communications Research, "The Effects of Strategic News…" 2008)
"We found that exposure to the main national evening television news bulletins, the public NOS (b = .12, p, .01) and private RTL (b = .08, p, .05), yielded significant positive associations with political cynicism. In contrast, both the Nova and the press exposure measures proved insignificant cynicism predictors"

d) Furthermore, the immediate and fast paced nature of TV news that Pro cites as an advantage is directly responsible for compassion fatigue- the exhaustion of an individual's ability to identify with global problems and maintain focus on any given political conflict. Compassion fatigue is caused by the bombardment of images of suffering and disaster and results in fatalistic apathy.
(Keith Tester, Uni Portsmouth "Compassion, Morality, and the Media")
"Compassion fatigue means becoming so used to the spectacle of dreadful events, misery, or suffering that we stop noticing them. We are bored when we see one more tortured corpse on the television screen and we are left unmoved as soon as we realize that the earthquake in Taiwan killed fewer people than…in Turkey. Compassion fatigue means being left exhausted and tired by those reports and ceasing to think that anything at all can be done to help…Compassion fatigue means certain fatalism. It leads to the conclusion that this is just the way things are and nothing can be done that will make a difference. Compassion fatigue tells us that giving money to help famine relief in Ethiopia will do nothing to stop the starvation next time…"

f) Finally, TV directly trades off with time that could be spent engaging in activities that could benefit the community. Time expenditure is zero-sum- there are only 24 hours in a day and every hour you spend watching TV is an hour you could have spent volunteering at a soup kitchen or petitioning for a political cause. Americans spend on average 2.7 hours, or over 50% of leisure time, watching television (US Dept. of Labor 6/22/2011). This accounts for more than any other leisure time activity- notably reading, which takes up about 6 min. of an average American's day. Television amounts to a huge drain on society's civic capital.

Con's case:

3. News/Disasters
a)This argument directly supports my disengagement argument.
b)Pro has offered no argument for how TV uniquely improves our ability to respond to disasters- his only claim is it could give viewers "possibly useful information."
c)Political systems like FEMA and Americorps are much more important to effectively responding to natural disasters, and these depend on a healthy democracy. My disengagement argument is therefore more relevant.

4. Education:
a)Research actually shows that television hinders the development of young children:
(Children's Television Viewing and Cognitive Outcomes, Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2005)
"Using data from a nationally representative data set…There are modest adverse effects of television viewing before age 3 years on the subsequent cognitive development of children. These results suggest that greater adherence to the American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines that children younger than 2 years not watch television is warranted."

b)Pro should take a look at the shows on channels he calls "educational:" 1-11 pm History Channel: American Pickers and Top Shot – 10 hours of antiques and guns. Discovery Channel: 4 hours of American Chopper and a mix of shows about antiques and guns.
Debate Round No. 2


Here I will give my response to Con's case.

Public health


Con's point about the positive correlation between television viewership and disease is lacking in evidence. First, he proves too much. Just because thousands of people die every year in car accidents, does not mean that they have not provided positive benefits so why should it be applied to television only? Second, on his point about healthcare costs, he claims that the economic impact of treating all the people getting sick form television viewership is too much. Of course, he does not prove why this is a bad thing economically speaking. More sick people does mean more people frequenting hospitals and paying for treatment. If he means that these costs are put on the rest of Americans via America's partly socialized healthcare system, then the solution is simply. Privatize healthcare completely. Since hospitals must treat anyone who comes to their doors in danger of dying, taxpayers are forced to pay for treatment of drug users, violent people, and generally irresponsible people as well. The problem in healthcare costs is not due to television viewership, but socialization of costs on to the American public.


On inaccuracy, this isn't really a problem. Reality shows have long been known not to fully show 'reality' completely as they still have to be able to make the show entertaining and market it to audiences with short attention spans. On pharmaceutical pushing, this is merely an aspect of any sort of media. Whether it be television, newspapers, or radio, they rely on advertisement to stay on the air. The fact that sometimes television shows have inaccurate representations in order to advertise a product is hardly a charge that only those in the television industry deserve.

Civil disengagement

My opponent argues that television viewership is antithetical to a flourishing democracy of civic engagement. However, it is through television(among other media outlets) that is able to organize and inform on the issues raging in the political sphere. Take for example, the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street movement. Without television coverage, many wouldn't see protesting a broken political establishment as productive. But since television media outlets broadcast their message to a now international audience, protesting and just generally taking a stand for one's beliefs is now more effective than ever.

On compassion fatigue, this is merely the effect of people now starting to see what is going on around the world, not just in their city or nation. Knowledge is not bad in itself, just what we do with it. Undoubtedly some people will feel depressed and apathetic at the current state of world affairs, but there can be no denying that some will see the same thing and feel a desire to go and help their fellow man.

On opportunity trade-offs, my opponent claims that television takes away time from other more important activities such as volunteering. However, can he substantiate the claim that without television, most people would spend half of their leasure time volunteering or doing something else productive? I can simply turn this claim around and argue that watching television detracts time where people could be out committing crimes such as rape or murder.

Here I will respond to Con's objections to my own case.

News and disasters

My opponent takes issue with the idea that television can give viewers unique information needed to respond to disasters. My argument was that television gives viewers a better visualization of what is happening. Someone who hears a description of the severity of a hurricane might not be as well informed as someone who is watching actual footage of it. He next claims that political disaster response groups are more important in dealing with natural disasters, however I never claimed that television was more important. I was pointing out that it can help not only give people possibly useful information as to the severity of a disaster, but that it serves to give exposure on those conditions to the rest of the world and anyone who may want to voluntarily help or send funds to help a relief effort.


Con argues that television hurts the development of children under two years old. However, again, this proves too much. It is not a negative effect on cars in general if children can get hurt driving them. It is a negative effect of bad parents who let their children drive their car. As such, it is not a negative effect of television in general if children respond negatively at a certain age(my opponent has also not done anything to show negative effects on children over two), but a negative effect of irresponsible or ignorant parents. On these channels not being educational, my opponent argues that the History Channel only plays shows about antiques and guns, however it has played a variety of educational documentaries and television shows, including shows on modern technological inventions(Modern Marvels) and documentaries on the work of Nostradamus(The Nostradamus Effect). The Discovery Channel also dedicates an entire week every year to education on sharks specifically(Shark Week) and is the home of the educational show on physics, Mythbusters.


This debate is fundamentally comparative: the judge is to compare the positive effects of TV with the negative effects and see which side outweighs the other. What this means is that neither side has to show there are ONLY positive or ONLY negative effects, but that there is an imbalance.

When Pro says "you wouldn't say cars are bad because of X" he is leaving out the implied comparison to economic and quality of life advantage that cars offer. What this round calls for is a comparison of the advantages claimed by Pro vs. the disadvantages claimed by Con.

When weighing the advantages or disadvantages, the two main things the judge should consider are "how big is this advantage" and "how likely/certain is this advantage."

a)Pro offers no evidence against my claim that television directly causes 528,000 premature deaths each year. I have a cited Harvard study to support this claim.
b)It is incredibly unfair for Pro to say "the solution is simply. Privatize healthcare completely." This debate is about the effects TV has as our society currently exists, not the effects TV has in some utopia of Pro's creation. Healthcare isn't completely privatized, so the healthcare costs of TV do spread to taxpayer.
c)Diabetes and Cardio problems amount to an economic concern for more reasons than healthcare costs. The American Diabetes Association states for annual cost of diabetes there is "$58 billion for indirect costs (disability, work loss, premature mortality)."
d)This disadvantage is the most certain thing in this round. It is supported by an incredibly comprehensive study:
"…a meta-analysis, a systematic assessment of all published studies from 1970 to 2011 that linked TV viewing with increased risk of type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and premature death. Eight large prospective cohort studies from the United States, Europe, and Australia met the researchers' criteria and were included in the meta-analysis."
Pro has not contradicted my claims with any evidence. The certainty of over 500,000 people currently dying each year should be at the front of your mind when considering any of Pro's claimed advantages.

a)In the absence of TV, news is still spread via internet, radio and newspaper (all of which are just as international as TV). Pro provides no reason why these would be less effective at spreading information about OWS or the Tea Party or any other news story.
b)Note that my arguments for disengagement are specific to TV. My cynicism evidence states that TV creates cynicism while press (newsprint) does NOT. Compassion fatigue is the result of the continuous bombardment of disaster images. As Pro claims in his opening, TV is different in that it offers you "minute by minute information as to the status of the emergency," and "people are given access to breaking news within hours or even minutes of the event happening." It is precisely this constant, immediate subjection to disaster during TV news that results in compassion fatigue. The immersive nature of TV news drains the willingness to act in a way that print or radio does not.
c)Double bind – either Pro admits that TV news offers nothing special compared to print/radio and loses his advantages, or he admits that TV presents news in a fundamentally different way and links to my disaster fatigue claims.
d)Research on declining engagement also points to TV as the culprit. The Research also says the reading print news INCREASES engagement:
(LA Times "Critics of Media" 1996)
"Robert Putnam, a political scientist at Harvard University, devoted a dozen pages to examining the possible causes of what he calls "the decline of our civic life." He concludes: "Television is the culprit."
Putnam argues that "each hour spent viewing television is associated with less social trust . . . while each hour reading a newspaper is associated with more."
Although Putnam's widely discussed research focused on the disengagement of increasing numbers of Americans from various civic and social activities and organizations, he also examined the impact of television viewing on peoples' feelings about one another and about their civic institutions. "An impressive body of literature suggests that heavy watchers of TV are unusually skeptical about the benevolence of other people.""
e) Disengagement is the biggest disadvantage in this round. So much of society depends on a thriving democracy- the healthcare industry, the police force, the economy, the ability to respond to disasters. As a democracy sickens, all areas of society sicken with it- resulting in corruption in government at all levels and resulting in drops of quality of life. You only need to look to healthcare crisis, to the Occupy Wallstreet Movement, to the corruption in Washington and state politics, to see the ill effects of a democracy in trouble.

a)Pro's argument about how TV helps us deal with disasters is "television gives viewers a better visualization of what is happening." Even if this is true, what does this actually mean for our ability to respond to disasters? How does "better visualizing" a wildfire happening 2000 miles away help solve the problem? How much of a difference does it make? Will that wildfire kill 5 less people? Will it destroy 1 less home? Pro offers no answers to these questions. In the face of over 500,000 deaths each year due to TV related health concerns, the possibility that TV might marginally help us with natural disasters in some ambiguous way seems a laughable merit.
b)My disengagement claim totally captures the disaster solvency. Without TV we would have a more engaged citizenry and a healthier democracy. We would have stronger public institutions like FEMA, fire departments, forest rangers, to respond to these disasters. We would also have stronger volunteer organizations such as Americorps and Citizens Corps- organizations that exist to train first responders and actually go out and react to disasters rather than having a better visualization from sitting in front of the TV.

a)My opponent never refuted my claim that TV is detrimental to education of children under two. Additionally, he has proved zero evidence that TV helps education in children over two. This means the only standing empirical studies in this round suggest that TV is bad for education.
b)Pretty much Pro's entire opening education argument is centered on children's programming, explicitly targeted at "toddlers" and "infants" – the exact demographic my evidence shows TV hurts.
c)Saying this isn't a negative effect of TV, it's a bad effect of parenting is unfair. Again, we are arguing about TV in society as is, not in some world where Pro gets to decide how things should be. In the real world, parents let their infants watch TV, and the TV hurts their cognitive development. ALSO: These types of arguments are unfair since you could make any change to the world to remove a problem- e.g.: TV causes cancer? Well this wouldn't be an issue if we cured cancer so it isn't TV's fault!
d)Pro keeps claiming that educational programming on TV is a benefit, but at the most this educational programming is a tiny portion of what people watch. The top rated syndicated TV shows are Judge Judy, Two and a Half Men, and Wheel of Fortune. Even on "educational" channels, that majority of programming is focused on cheap interest shows- for example "Pawn Stars" and the series of knock offs it inspired on the History Channel. The odds of turning on the TV at random and finding something truly educational are laughable compared to the odds of picking a book at random. The educational impact of so called "educational TV shows" is miniscule compared to the other disadvantages in this debate.
Debate Round No. 3


I apologise but I must forfeit this round as I have no access to a computer(I'm on my phone) and won't for a day or two. I'll leave it up to the voters discretion whether to take away conduct or arguments.


As my opponent has forfeited his final round, I will only offer a closing summary of the round.

Public Health
As my Harvard School of Public Health evidence shows, there are currently over 300,000 people dying in the U.S. every year due to TV related health concerns. Additionally, TV causes over 500,000 cases of diabetes each year and diabetes has an economic impact of $58 billion through indirect costs alone. This evidence has gone unrefuted, making it the most certain claim in round.

I have provided evidence from media research that shows a positive correlation between cynicism and TV news; this correlation does NOT hold for print news media, showing that TV is unique to causing cynicism. Additionally, Harvard political scientist Putnam has conducted research showing that TV is one of the main causes of a decrease in civic involvement. Additionally, the on demand 24/7 nature of TV news makes it a special culprit in compassion fatigue, the wearing down of society's ability to care about problems facing different communities. Additionally, TV amounts to a huge timesuck in U.S. free time, directly trading off with time that could be spent on social and civic activities. All these factors demonstrate how TV hurt civic engagement, which is the key to a healthy democracy.

Note that at no point in this diebate has it been disputed that civic engagement is crucial to democracy. If I convince the judge that TV hurt civil engagement, I win that TV hurts the health of U.S. democracy and therefore of the government as a whole.

Natural Disasters
This is almost a non-issue in this debate. Pro has offered no explanation of how TV helps us respond to Natural Disasters, much less an idea of how this compares to 500,000 TV kills through health related issues or the $58 billion in diabetes related costs. Additionally, TV has hurt our ability to respond to natural disasters by weakening civic engagement- this means the willingness of people to volunteer and to foster healthy political structures like FEMA.

The only empirical data offered in this round shows that TV hurts the cognitive development of young children. Pro's argument that TV promotes education has been thoroughly refuted by me. At best Pro wins that TV doesnt HURT education, at worst I have shown TV to be detrimental to TV. Again, public education is tied to a healthy democracy, so by hurting engagement, TV hurts public education.

I have won this round on the public health issue alone. MY public health evidence is crystal clear that hundreds of thousands of people are dying or suffering RIGHT NOW due to health problems associated with TV. Coupled with the multi-billion dollar impact to the economy from public health issues, The size of this negative effect dwarfs whatever possible benefits Pro could claim from Natural Disasters or Education. Additionally, the evidence is very clear that these health effects are occurring while Pro has offered zero evidence that TV helps s respond to disasters or promotes education. The magnitude and certainty of this disadvantage alone demonstrate that TV has had more negative effects than positive.
Debate Round No. 4
3 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Posted by amira_pcs 5 years ago
Television does have a negative impact on society because of violent TV shows and the many easily influenced children that watch them.
Posted by BlackVoid 6 years ago
I've also got to give sources con because he used plenty of them to empirically prove the claims he was making. Pro didn't use any, which is problematic because this is a practical resolution.
Posted by BlackVoid 6 years ago
Pro drops the 500,000 death toll, and due to the premature ending, he also concedes the $58 billion dollar economy disadvantage. This immediately outweighs everything Pro's case has. I can't buy the Privatize Health care argument since the resolution indicates the status quo.

Con also wins compasson fatigue since his evidence specifically said that TV causes desensitization while other news media doesn't. So Pro's argument about "this is just because people are seeing whats going on around the world" isnt true since people hear bad news on other media, but don't get fatigued about it.

The education argument goes Con too, as he showed that the most popular shows that people actually watch are Judge Judy, Two and a half Men, and game shows. Obviously not the most educational shows in the world.

None of Pro's advantages are shown to be sound, while Con accesses high impacts of deaths in the hundreds of thousands, and billion dollar drain on the economy.
7 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 7 records.
Vote Placed by F-16_Fighting_Falcon 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Being a fan of TV shows, I was looking forward to this debate. Pro makes a good case about the benefits of television but was unable to respond to the disadvantages that Con mentioned such as health. Saying that healthcare should be privatized is pretty much a flat-out concession, as we are discussing current benefits. The debate was easy to judge primarily because of the forfeit which Con utilized to great effect to drive home all of his points with no rebuttals from Pro.
Vote Placed by Mestari 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: I would have liked to seen more of the methodology shown from the health study. Regardless, between the forfeit, the strong link to health arguments, and the poor refutation by Pro (no offense, it is possibly due to the topic) there was a clear win on the Con side.
Vote Placed by Man-is-good 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: One point of conduct to social for not actually forfeiting without rime or reason. However, it is quite clear who won the debate: Pro dropped Con's argument about the negative effects of television in regards to education or health...and unfairly claimed that it was due to bad parenting...Note that Pro used no sources (compared to Raisor's studies) and failed to prove how, in particular, wider exposure to info=better response and more civil engagement...
Vote Placed by wiploc 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro had a good first round, but had no effective comebacks to Con's arguments. Diabetes would count as a negative effect of TV even if the cost were borne by private citizens.
Vote Placed by imabench 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Cancel out Crypto247's vote
Vote Placed by Crypto247 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Because tv is liberal baise.
Vote Placed by BlackVoid 6 years ago
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Reasons for voting decision: Comments