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

Revive DDO Tournament R1: Compulsory Voting

Do you like this debate?NoYes+2
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 3 votes the winner is...
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/6/2013 Category: Society
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,974 times Debate No: 40090
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (28)
Votes (3)




This is a Round One debate in Subutai's "Revive DDO Tournament." I think I speak for both of us when I say we are honored and excited to be participating. Round One will be for acceptance only. Some important information--as well as our rulebook for the round--are both listed below.

Topic: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

Information: We ask that only judges that are officially part of the tournament cast votes on this debate; however, we would appreciate comments and feedback from all users. Please keep an open mind as you judge the debate. Thank you!


1. Round Two will only be for constructive arguments; no rebuttals should be offered at this time.
2. Rounds Three and Four will be rebuttal rounds.
3. No new arguments should be offered in the final round (Round Four.)
4. BOP will be shared.
5. Both debaters are free to offer and to contest definitions.

I am happily anticipating a high-quality debate, and I must also extend our joint thanks to Subutai for coordinating this. Once Con's acceptance is forthcoming, the debate shall begin!


I thank my opponent for creating the challenge, and accept the challenge, as well as the rules set forth by my opponent.
I await this debate with great excitement! Thanks to subutai for organizing the tournament.

May the best man win!
Debate Round No. 1


I will begin by extending my thanks to tylergraham95 for engaging with me in this debate. In this round, I shall present my own case as to why voting ought to be compulsory.


1. Democracy - according to Encarta, is a democratic nation; a country with a government that has been freely elected by the eligible electorate.
2. Vote - according to American Heritage, is an opinion case in deciding a disputed question or in electing a person to office.
3. Compulsory - according to Merriam-Webster this means mandatory; obligatory

Ought, according to Encarta, expresses desirability. For example, if someone says "you ought to fix the sink; it's been running for ages," that person is implying that it would be desirable to fix the sink. It may therefore be useful to define one more term: desirable, according to Merriam-Webster, denotes that something is advantageous or beneficial. Consequently, it is my burden in this round to show that compulsory voting is desirable (beneficial), whereas Con must show that it is not.


Now that we have a clearer understanding of the topic, I can present my arguments in support of compulsory voting. It is my thesis and main contention that compulsory voting (CV) is beneficial. If it is, then it is a desirable course of action that a democracy ought to take.

Sub-point A: CV will boost turnout.

"Academic analysis shows that compulsory voting is likely to produce a high turnout of voters, wherever it is used. There is no doubt that the Australian arrangements produce a high figure, for Australia's is one of the most consistently high turnouts anywhere in the world--an average of 94.5 percent in the 24 elections since 1946. The Netherlands averaged a turnout of 94.7 percent before compulsory voting was abolished in 1971, and a turnout of 81.4 percent in the years since." [1] "One solution to the problem of low voter turnout is to require all eligible voters to vote by law...The effect of compulsory voting laws on voter turnout is substantial. Multivariate statistical analyses have shown that compulsory voting laws can raise voter turnout by seven to sixteen percentage points [or more]. The effects are likely to be even greater in a country such as the United States, which has a much lower baseline of voter turnout than many of the countries that have already adopted compulsory voting." [2]

Sub-point B: Low turnout is problematic; insofar as CV solves this, CV is beneficial.

"The essence of the argument for why high voter turnout matters starts with the premise that democracy depends on some level of self-determination and governmental legitimacy. High turnout is one legitimating factor"even after the state has removed improper or onerous barriers to voting, situational forces remain that depress turnout. These negative forces are particularly acute among socio-economically disadvantaged groups. Consistently lower voter participation among these groups has two effects: their preferences are not fully aggregated in elections and they have less influence after elections, as politicians tend to neglect the interests of non-voters. Higher turnout generally helps counteract these effects." [3]
"Low turnout impugns a number of fundamental democratic values such as popular sovereignty, legitimacy, representativeness, political equality, and the minimization of elite power. Majority will is central to democratic rule, therefore lamenters of low turnout often argue that the more completely the preferences of the majority are registered, the more democratic the system will be. When a government's mandate is informed by incomplete information about the wishes of the electorate, the legitimacy of its decisions may be in doubt." [4]

Sub-point C: CV corrects against "free riders."

"The key idea here is that a democratic electoral system is a public good, in that all citizens get to benefit from it, even if they do nothing to contribute to it. Because it is a public good, it is possible to free-ride, or to enjoy the benefits of that good, without contributing...Non-voters, therefore, can be seen as free-riders, selfishly and immorally exploiting voters. The moral force of this point is two-fold"it reinforces the idea that no morally significant liberties are threatened by compulsory turnout...It is selfish and exploitative to benefit from the efforts of other people without making any effort to contribute. So, far from compulsion being unjustified, or even morally neutral, it seems positively desirable, as a curb on selfish and exploitative behaviour." [5]

Sub-point D: CV reduces polarization.

"It is also possible that increasing turnout will increase the representativeness of the electorate in another way that might help put a dent in one of the major ills of the current political discourse in America: polarization. The electorate and the parties have become more polarized--ome might say hyper-polarized--by playing more and more to the extremes and crowding out the center. This has a negative impact on political discourse and can serve to diminish participation by those citizens who have less extreme views. Importantly, the citizens who are currently being left out of the mix in terms of political participation tend to be less connected to the two major political parties. Put another way, the citizens who are most engaged in politics and turn out to vote also tend to be the most extremist in terms of political outlook." [6]

Sub-point E: CV reduces violence.

"State actors have an interest in high turnout because voting helps sustain a peaceful democratic government. When voting norms atrophy in democratic countries, their citizens may cease to view voting as an expedient form of participation and political expression. With citizens less conscious of voting as a desirable form of participation, they are more likely to resort to protests, violence, and unrest. A society "in which a large proportion of the population is outside the political arena is potentially more explosive than one in which most citizens are regularly involved in activities which give them some sense of participation in decisions which affect their lives"." [3] "The Committee for the Study of the American Electorate"noted that there is an inherent danger to the orderly process of democracy that results from a lack of participation by most voters. Voting promotes "the civility of the national dialogue and the habitual use of orderly and lawful processes to effect change..."An apathetic electorate"is a dangerous thing to a stable democracy. The possibility of unlawful conduct in order to create change becomes more likely." [7] "Unless public engagement with the democratic process improves, our leaders may well find themselves elected by precariously small proportions of the eligible population, which will cast doubt on the popular mandate behind their policy initiatives"the have-nots increasingly shun electoral means of addressing their concerns, they may resort to more disruptive forms of political action. Social unrest manifests itself as a quintessentially economic problem, but it is also closely linked to constitutional and political structures, as these structures define the options citizens have at their disposal for voicing dissent"Increasing the electoral participation rates of deprived and marginalised social groups is a key means of incentivising political parties to pay attention to their needs, and thereby of heading off destabilising forms of social unrest." [4]


The sources above detail how beneficial CV truly is. It has the capacity to boost voter turnout consistantly, which in turn helps bridge socio-economic gaps with tangible impacts for electoral fairness. Moreover, this type of high-turnout actually enhances governmental legitimacy. CV also combats free riders, who immoral glean benefits from a system in which they do not participate, and it decreases polarization by ensuring that it is not simply the more extreme elements of the electorate who are voting. This also has the potential to reduce sharp and jarring policy shifts as different extreme elements assume power. In addendum, CV has tangible benefits in that it promotes peaceable dialogues over violent clashes. Therefore, CV is beneficial, and I must urge a PRO VOTE! Thank you!


1 - Scott Bennett, Parliament of Australia, 2005, Compulsory voting in Australian national elections, Parliamentary Library-Research Brief, October, No. 6, [], p. 1
2 -Harvard Law Review, 2007, "The Case for Compulsory Voting in the United States," 121 Harv. L. Rev. 591, p. 593-5
3 - Jason Marisam, Research Fellow-Harvard Law School, 2009, "Voter Turnout: From Cost to Cooperation," St. Thomas Law Review, Winter, 21 St. Thomas L. Rev. 190, p. 195
4 - Sarah Birch, Reader in Politics-University of Essex, 2009, "The case for compulsory voting," Public Policy Research, March-May, p. 21-2
5 - Lever, Anabelle. Philosophy Professor-London School of Economic and Political Science, 2008, "Compulsory voting: a critical perspective," British Journal of Political Science, [], p. 11
6 - Michael Pitts, Professor Indiana University School of Law, 2011, "Opt-Out Voting," Hofstra Law Review, Summer, 39 Hofstra L. Rev. 897, p. 920
7 - Christopher W. Carmichael, Law Clerk to US Circuit Judge Bauer, 2002, Adjunct Prof. of Law at DePaul University "Proposals for Reforming the American Electoral System After the 2000 Presidential Election," 23 Hamline J. Pub. L. & Pol'y 255, Spring, 2002, p. 284-6

I apologize in advance for any formatting errors--I am being forced to use a library computer as my own laptop in undergoing repair. Thanks to the judges and to tyler. I looked forward to a great debate!


Topic: In a democracy,

voting ought to be compulsory.

I accept my opponents definitions. I will prove that compulsory voting is not desirable by pointing out the harms of compulsory voting and proving that they outweigh the benefits, therefore rendering it undesirable.

I would also contend that, in a democracy, voting is the preferred method of election. Voluntary voting satisfies the election method criteria for a democracy and therefore is inherently desirable for a democracy. Pro must therefore prove that making said voting compulsory would be more desirable than voluntary voting. Pro must therefore prove that compulsory voting can maintain the benefits of voluntary voting, while creating new benefits that outweigh any harms. If Con can prove sufficiently that compulsory voting "harms" more than it "helps" then the argument is won by the Con, as voluntary voting is inherently desirable in a democracy. Voluntary voting is considered the status quo, as only 10 countries in the world enforce compulsory voting (2).

I will construct my argument on the following contentions

1. Just as one is granted the freedom to enjoy their rights, they are also granted the freedom not to employ said rights.

2. Involuntary voting could lead to uninformed opinions having votes cast.

3. Voluntary voting focuses on the quality of votes, not quantity.

1. Just as one is granted the freedom to enjoy

their rights, they are also granted the freedom

not to employ said rights.

In a democracy such as the United States, every human is granted certain rights (freedom of speech, religion, etc.). One cannot be forced to speak, however. In all cases of basic human rights, every citizen is given the option to willingly forgo said rights. Citizens can willingly pass up their right to an attorney. Citizens are not forced to pursue happiness. Freedom and humans rights is about providing every person with equal opportunity and not forcing them into action. This is a "right to inaction." Just as one is granted the right to vote, one may at any time choose not to vote. Compulsory voting violates a persons right to inaction, and therefore is not desirable. (3) "Furthermore, compulsory voting may infringe other rights. For example, Jehovah's Witnesses and most Christadelphians believe that they should not participate in political events. Forcing them to vote ostensibly denies them their freedom of religious practice." (2)

2. Involuntary voting could lead to

uninformed opinions having votes cast.

Not all citizens remain informed on current events. "Forcing everyone to vote means that the voice of those with no interest in politics will influence the decision about who rules the country. This generates what author Jason Brennan calls "pollution of the polls" in his book The ethics of voting, and is one of the main causes of the actual crisis of democracy worldwide: incompetent politicians winning elections through media control (the recent case of Italy under Silvio Berlusconi epitomizes this phenomenon)."(1) Increasing voter turnout through compulsory voting increases the quantity of the vote, but not the quality. This is not a problem for voluntary voting.

3. Voluntary voting focuses on the quality of

votes, not quantity.

In voluntary voting systems, those who do vote are only those who have been moved to vote by some force. This means that every vote cast has premeditated thought behind it. This is more desirable than compulsory voting, as it ensures that most votes have the quality of being cast by citizens who have some real incentive driving them to vote (Not voting because they are forced, but because they care). Voluntary voting means that political parties would have to inspire voters to support them. Quality votes are superior to quantity votes.


I have pointed out three major reasons why compulsory voting is not more desirable than voluntary voting: it restricts freedom, it "pollutes the polls", and voluntary voting creates higher quality votes. I have pointed out that Compulsory Voting is not more desirable than voluntary voting, and therefore ought not to be.

Vote Con


3. The Case for Compulsory Voting in the United States, 121 Harv. L. Rev. 591, 601"603 (2007)
Debate Round No. 2


I thank tylergraham95 for accepting this debate. I will use this round to clarify framework and to rebut Con's Case.


Con agrees with my definitions for this round. Therefore, I have the burden of showing that CV yields a net benefit, and is thus a desirable course of action. Con has the burden of showing that CV does not yield a net benefit, and is thus an undesirable action to take.

I will dispute Con's analysis of the framework in two respects, however. Firstly, Con may indeed support a voluntary system as an alternative to a compulsory one, but it is not my job to show that CV preserves the exact same benefits as voluntary voting (VV). It is only my job to show that, in the aggregate, CV is better than VV. So, there may be some tradeoffs we have to make, but the benefits of CV will--as I will show--outweigh those tradeoffs. Regardless, I don't expect this subtle point to become a major issues in this debate, so I shall move on to my second objection. Simply because VV is the status quo does not make it inherently desirable in a democracy. Voting is desirable, but Con has yet to prove that VOLUNTARY voting is desirable. To make the assumption that VV is inherently desirable is to assume that Con has already won the argument, when, in fact, he has not. Therefore, this is a poorly warranted presumption argument that we can easily dismiss in two ways: (1) it begs the question [1], and (2) simply because something is the status quo does not make it desirable. Slavery in the U.S. was the status quo for some time, and it met Constitutional criteria for legality as well, but few would argue that it was a desirable action.

With those clarifications made, and with the burdens now firmly established, I will proceed to the arguments.


Point 1: Right to Inaction

I have four rebuttals to make here.

(1) "Not all positive rights imply negative rights; we have a right to educate our children, but this does not mean that we have a right not to educate our children. We are required by the state to do many other things as well: to pay taxes, and to serve on juries, and to have our names included on the electoral roll." [2] Therefore, one cannot say that "in all cases of basic human rights, every citizen is given the option to willingly forgo said rights." This blanket statement is simply false.

(2) Voting is an action used to achieve some greater right, and thus compulsion can be justified because the smaller right to vote does not outweigh the greater right that it seeks to achieve. For example, if Person A is charged with a crime, they have a right to a jury. If selected to serve on that jury, you have no legal right to object. In other words, you can be compelled by the state to serve on the jury. Similarly, if Person A has the right to an inclusive, fully representative government, than, if eligible to vote, you have no legal right to object. You can be compelled to vote. "If there is a strong enough collective interest at stake with voting, this should prevent the individual right to vote from becoming an inverse right not to vote. Voting is often viewed as an individual privilege, but it is also true that there are collective benefits from the participation of citizens in elections. Because all Americans benefit from having representative democracy as a form of government, all Americans benefit when others exercise the right to vote. The individual act of voting is essential to the collective's ability to have democratic government, and as such should not be waivable." [3]

(3) CV does not violate basic human rights, as Con contends. In ECHR in X v. Austria, the European Court on Human Rights ruled that CV did not violate the human rights and freedoms of citizens. [2] Additionally, I would argue that CV does not violate rights because it is a duty of citizens. This line of reasoning can be supported by the Universal Declaration on Human Rights, which asserts that fundamental "rights and freedoms" are checked by "duties to the community." [4] "The rights-based defense of mandatory electoral participation starts from the premise that duties and obligations are intimately connected to rights. Voting is a necessary attribute of citizenship; it is a public trust, a moral obligation, a duty of citizenship. Democratic obligations thus follow directly from democratic rights. The obligation to participate in elections can be defended on the grounds of equality inherent in the definition of the democratic choice situation; all members of the community have a duty to contribute to collective decision-making if they are to enjoy its fruits." [2]

(4) CV is desirable despite some conflicts with religion. For example, if summoned for jury duty, you must still report regardless of religious beliefs. In some federal judicial districts, there is no allowable religious exemption to service. [5] Also, cross-apply the ECHR's ruling here--CV does not violate human rights. Moreover, since this resolution is being analyzed from a cost-benefit viewpoint, CV, might still be net beneficial (and thus desirable) even if some rights are infringed.

Point Two: Uneducated Voters

There are two attacks I'll make here.

(1) This problem is non-unique, meaning even in a voluntary system there will be uneducated voters. In fact, in places like Liberia, huge portions of the electorate are illiterate (40% of people age 15 and above are illiterate) and uneducated. [6] In nations like this, vast numbers of votes could be cast by uneducated people. Unless Con is willing to argue that such people be banned from voting, he cannot claim that CV is the only system that brings in large numbers of ill-informed voters; VV does as well.

(2) CV promotes education in the electorate for two reasons: (a) people become more motivated to inform themselves, and (b) parties and politicians will use resources to educate voters.

A: "Participation breeds participation...people who take part in politics in one way tend to do so in another. Participation in the political process may bring about an interest in participation in other civic engagements, which in turn has a positive impact on the political competence among citizens...compulsory voting could serve as a tool for civic education and political stimulation. The act of voting may also indirectly affect civic engagement by increasing the level of awareness of and interest in politics. Mandatory voting may spur people to gather information about politics and societal affairs in order to make a reasonable vote choice...compulsory voting should have a mobilizing and educating influence on citizens, also increasing the levels of political engagement more generally." [7]

Two: "Firstly, if conversion replaces mobilization as the main aim of parties during a campaign, they have an incentive to focus on policy rather than on 'hype', which should in theory lead to an better-informed electorate...Secondly, if voters know in advance that they will be voting on election day and that they will have to choose from among the options on offer, they have greater reason to pay attention to the campaign than is the case when they can toy with the idea of not voting only to change their minds shortly before the election. The third reason is related to the impact of the universality of electoral campaigns under compulsory voting; if the assumption can be made that everyone will be voting, the election is more likely to become a topic of conversation among friends, relatives and colleagues, which should serve to inform people of relevant issues."" [2]

Point Three: Quality vs. Quantity

Firstly, cross-apply my rebuttal arguments against Con's Point Two here. Education is key to casting "quality" votes. However, I will further assert that "low quality" votes are rare--few people cast poorly made-out ballots. I will also assert that placing an emphasis on "quality" is a slippery slope that should be avoided.

(1) CV does not increase arbitrary, or "bad" votes. "In Australia, donkey votes account for only around 1 per cent of total votes cast. More importantly, this figure is actually lower than in many systems where voting is voluntary. It is also worth noting that"there tend to be about as many deliberately spoiled and blank ballots as there are donkey votes; therefore at least half of random votes are deliberately nullified by their authors. This renders them incapable of distorting outcomes...the vast majority cast--or sincerely attempt to cast--valid votes. Given that compulsory voting can increase turnout by as much as 30+ percentage points, one percentage point of intentionally invalid votes and no discernible increase in donkey votes seems to be a tolerable cost of enfranchising the disadvantaged." [8]

(2) The emphasis on "quality" voting is risky. As a self-proclaimed liberal, I would argue that all votes cast for G.W. were not "quality" votes. On the contrary, I might argue that they were terrible votes. Therefore, if I wanted only quality votes to be counted, I might only allow card-carrying liberals to cast ballots, thereby ensuring G.W.'s loss. What I am pointing out here is that "quality" is an inherently subjective term and that everyone's opinions matter, even if they are uneducated ones. To start saying, "your opinion isn't quality enough" is to begin down a road to dictatorship.


1 -
2 - Sarah Birch (previously cited: Round Two)
3 - Harvard law Review (previously cited: Round Two)
4 -
5 -
6 -
7 - Lundell, Krister, Abo Akademi University, 2012, "Civic Participation and Political Trust" Representation, Vol. 48:2, p. 221
8 - Hill, Lisa. University of Adelaide, 2001, "Increasing Turnout Using Compulsory Voting," Politics, Vol. 31(1), p. 31

Thank you! Vote Pro!


I thank my opponent for his reply.


I would argue that VV is indeed inherently desirable, but victory for the Con cannot be assumed because of this. Pro must prove that CV is MORE desirable than VV in order to win this debate. I would also argue that since VV is the status quo in the majority of democratic countries throughout the world that it can also be assumed to be a system that is to some degree desirable.
The pro must therefore thoroughly prove CV to be of a higher degree of desirability.
Furthermore I did not mean to contend that in order for CV to be more desirable that is must also contain all the benefits of VV.


"Sub-point A: CV will boost turnout."

Cross examine with my points regarding Vote Quality.

"Sub-point B: Low turnout is problematic; insofar as CV solves this, CV is beneficial."

"Forcing everyone to vote means that the voice of those with no interest in politics will influence the decision about who rules the country. This generates what author Jason Brennan calls pollution of the polls in his book The ethics of voting,1 and is one of the main causes of the actual crisis of democracy worldwide: incompetent politicians winning elections through media control (the recent case of Italy under Silvio Berlusconi epitomises this phenomenon).

By the same token, compulsory voting cannot be defended by arguing that a governments legitimacy of a majority formed by a low turn-out is questionable, for numbers alone do not add credibility in this regard."(6) This is also referenced in my previous argument.
I contend that those who are voting and their information/opinion/passion regarding elections is what legitimizes government, not the mere fact that every single person has voted.

Sub-point C: CV corrects against "free riders."

Non-voting does not qualify one as a "free-rider." One can still contribute to society greatly and even to the political system of a democracy without voting. Just because one doesn't vote and the election goes in such a way that the person is "riding the benefits of others work." Non-voters who are ill informed may reap the benefits of better informed voters, but can also be harmed by this as well. Non-voters hardly qualify as "free-riders" because they do not vote because they believe their vote might harm the electoral system, and with good reason.

Sub-point D: CV reduces polarization.

Cross examine with my point regarding "Vote Quality." Polarization is not necessarily fixed by CV. Uneducated voters will not serve to centralize American Politics, as non-voters will not necessarily vote moderate (they may fall prey to sensationalism and vote for a polarized candidate) and because in countries like the US, non-voters do not comprise the majority.

Sub-point E: CV reduces violence.

This point addresses the idea that VV leads to higher rate of protest, but in a democracy, protesting is a guaranteed basic human right and should not be suppressed. The idea that VV leads directly to higher rate of violent protest in Pros source is employing slippery slope fallacy.


Rebuttal 1

My opponents point regarding mandatory jury duty is indeed interesting. But the reason jury duty is mandatory is different than the reasons for mandatory voting. In the case of voting, one is granted the right to vote, but in the cases of jury duty and taxes, one is not given the right to pay taxes or the right to serve on a jury, one is compelled to do so as civic duties. Pro may make the argument that voting is a civic duty, but this is not true. The civic duty of the members of a democracy is to take action, or inaction, in whatever way they see best in their political system. Some people may believe that they don't like any choices in a vote, or that they aren't educated enough on the choices to make a proper decision. Some people may rather start protest rather than vote. Electoral rolls are mandatory for logistical purposes, and to prevent fraud.

A further point regarding the difference between CV and other Compelling civic services.
"Jury trials and elections serve different purposes in the American system of government. Juries act as a check on the power of the state, by shifting some of the judicial decision-making power to private citizens. Voting, by contrast, is the process by which citizens delegate power to government. "(1)

CV is also a restriction of freedom. Restrictions of freedom, in most cases, ought to be avoided.

Rebuttal 2

"In nations like this, vast numbers of votes could be cast by uneducated people." (talking about VV states)
This point is only a speculation on the actual education of actual voters. The difference between VV and CV is that those who may be perceived as politically uneducated probably won't vote voluntarily, as ignorance breeds apathy. In a CV system, it is guaranteed that the uneducated will vote. Educated voting is also logically associated with VV as in this system one would logically only voted with incentive . One who is totally uneducated on the matter being voted upon would have no incentive to vote. One who is educated on the matter would likely have an opinion, and therefore, and incentive.

Regarding my opponents point on political education.
"The idea that high voter turnout based on compulsory voting translates into a politically engaged electorate is nonsensical." -Paula Matthewson, Australian Political Insider.
"Australians seem to be no more politically educated (and are perhaps less so) than citizens of comparable countries (for example, New Zealand, the United States, and the United Kingdom) that use voluntary voting." (2)

The sources cited by my opponent only provide un-substantiated speculation that CV would increase political awareness. Just because one is forced to attend polls doesn't mean that they will necessarily want to become more informed on politics. Just as one might attend a history class daily but still have no interest in learning more about history, or have any interest in talking about history.

Rebuttal 3

My opponents first point regarding "donkey votes is interesting,. A similar source comments "the so-called donkey vote may account for 1-2% of votes in these systems, which may affect the electoral process"(3). Although only 1-2% of votes are donkey votes, these votes do still affect the electoral process in a negative way. "...turnout of only 92%, of whom 6% lodged either informal or blank ballot papers"(3). "High voter turnout is a myth when you consider that 10% of Australians are not even registered. When that myth is debunked, I think you'll see a dramatic shift in public perception of compulsory voting,"(4).
Finally I would state that the quality of a vote can be objectively recognized. My use of the term "Quality vote" was meant to be defined as a premeditated decision, with some form of non-obligatory incentive. Therefore, a quality vote can be objectively recognized. In a VV a quality vote would simply be the vote of anyone who is driven enough to vote. In a CV, a quality vote can be recognized as a vote that is premeditated, informed, or would have been cast even without compulsion to do so.
"Voluntary response bias" is a result of "self selecting" in surveys and is a well known statistical principle (5). The idea behind voluntary response bias being that the people taking the survey (or in this case, voting), when only participating through volunteering are more likely to hold strong opinions. One with a strong opinion on a subject is likely to know something about said subject that spurs their opinion.


My opponents arguments in favor of CV are interesting, but I believe I have sufficiently proved that the benefits of VV outweigh those of CV, especially when the downsides of CV are taken into proper account. CV reduces vote quality, limits freedom, and provides no significant benefits.

I ask that you vote Con.

Debate Round No. 3


Thanks to tylergraham95! In this round, I will address framework, the Pro case, the Pro Con, and provide some reasons to vote Pro.


Simply because VV is the status quo does not make it inherently desirable; yet, my example of slavery goes un-rebutted. By extending my argument, we can see that we cannot blindly accept VV as inherently desirable. Con is "begging the question." Voting is desirable in a democracy, but what type of voting is most desirable is up for debate. Con must prove the desirability of his voluntary system just as much as I must prove the desirability of my compulsory system.


Sub-point A: CV boosts Turnout

Con does not deny that CV boosts turnout. His only argument here is that boosting turnout decrease voting quality--I will address this assertion later in this round--but for now, Con DROPS that CV will increase turnout, and we can extend this point.

Sub-point B: Low Turnout Bad

I made three assertions here: (1) that high turnout was "one legitimating factor" of a government, particularly as it regards the need for a mandate; (2) low turnout harms the socio-economically disadvantaged; (3) there should be a "minimization of elite power."

Con also makes three arguments: (1) that forcing everyone to votes pollute the polls with low quality votes; (2) that turnout alone does not boost credibility; and (3) that having people vote who want to vote legitimizes government more so than compulsion does. First of all, none of Con's points address my 2nd and 3rd arguments--they're DROPPED. Extend that low turnout harms the disadvantaged and that elite power should be reduced. These two points on their own are enough to show that low turnout is bad, even if you don't believe that compulsion is necessary for legitimacy.

Now, let's take a look at Con's three claims. Firstly, Con repeats his "quality of votes" assertion, which I will address later. But, I will make one point here of importance. Italy does not enforce its CV laws. [1] Therefore, Silvio Berlusconi was elected VOLUNTARILY. Con makes a huge deal about how uneducated voters pollute the polls; yet we can turn his own example against him and say that this SAME phenomenon occurs in a voluntary system. I made this same argument in my last speech when I pointed out that this was a non-unique claim. Secondly, I stated that "high turnout is one legitimating factor," which is not the same as saying that "numbers ALONE do not add credibility." Never did I claim that high turnout was the ONLY metric, but it is nonetheless an important one, for legitimacy. Thirdly, if only a small group of people vote, they are the ones molding the government and the ones elected officials will focus on. Politicians wanted to get reelected, and so will make policies favorable to those who are likely to vote, and this means that leaders will pay less attention to other groups. This only entrenches socio-economic disparities and leads to elitism. When only a handful of people control the government it seems more oligarchic than democratic. So, low turnout is also bad for legitimacy too.

Sub-point C: Free Riders

Con's big claim here is that nonvoting is not free riding because people can still contribute without voting. Thus, nonvoters are not exploiting the system. This is wrong largely because of Con's interpretation of the social good that nonvoters are exploiting. The actual people who make up the government is the social good--not the community at large. Nonvoters may contribute to the community, they may protest against bad legislation, they may do community service, and so on, but they don't actually participate in electing the members of the government. Con argues, throughout this debate, that we want good, competent leaders. If good, competent, non-demagogic leaders are a social good, then when 10 of us vote for them, but some else doesn't vote, that person is enjoying that social good, i.e. those leaders, without having done the act of electing them; they are free-riding. Extend my argument.

Sub-point D: Polarization

I argued that people who are more likely to vote tend to be more extreme (extremes have higher enthusiasm, loyalty to a cause, etc.). The corollary is that moderates tend to vote less. Therefore, by instituting CV, we force moderates to vote, checking against polarization. Con DROPS this argument that nonvoters tend to be moderates. Extend it.

Con's only attack here is his "quality of votes" point, which I will address later. Con also asserts that nonvoters do not comprise the majority in the U.S. However, there are many other democracies in which nonvoters aren't just the majority, but the vast majority. Even in the U.S., non-presidential elections tend to hover around 40% turnout (60% don't vote), and even in 2012, around 43% of registered voters did not participate. [2] That is still a MASSIVE margin.

Sub-point E: CV reduces violence

I am asserted that when voting norms atrophy the system is seen as being controlled by elites, and that the leaders cater to that group. This leads people to seeing the system as corrupt, and to use violence to express themselves. for example, the miners in South Africa who felt that they weren't being heard, the protests in Afghanistan when Karzai was reelected, the violence in Nigeria when Goodluck Jonathan was reelected, etc.. It's not a slippery slope fallacy when it's actually happened. Groups that lose at the polls and who simultaneously see the system as skewed or corrupt often resort to violence. When the GOP lost to Obama, there wasn't nationwide violence because the average Romney voter had a higher level of confidence in the physical polling system itself than people elsewhere. CV, inasmuch as it promotes good voting norms and reduces elite influence, does reduce violence.


Point 1: Right to Inaction

(1) Con DROPS this argument that not all positive rights imply negative rights. We have the right to educate our kids, but we don't have the right not to educate our kids. Extend this point.

(2) Con misinterprets my use of the jury example. I was arguing that some rights that take precedence over others. So, my right to due process is more important than your right to your free time; therefore, I can compel you to serve on the jury. Apply this to voting. My right to a representative government trumps your alleged right to not vote; thus I can compel voting. As Con misconstrues my point, we can extend it. The impact is that if I can show the CV benefits democracy, than your right to not vote is not enough to stop me from compelling you to do so. As my sources said, "If there is a strong enough collective interest at stake with voting, this should prevent the individual right to vote from becoming an inverse right not to vote." [3]

(3) Con DROPS my point that CV is not a violation of human rights. Extend it.

(4) Con DROPS my arguments against his religious objections. He loses this.

Point Two: Uneducated Voters

(1) This is non-unique. As Con's own example of Italy shows, even with VV twits can be elected. So again, unless Con is willing to ban every single uneducated person from voting he cannot claim that I am the only person who might include uneducated voters in the system. And, if Con did ban those people, he would be infringing on freedom, which he says is a bad thing to do.

(2) Con states, "the idea that...CV translates into a politically engaged electorate is nonsensical." Con says that I have no warrants, yet this quote has no warrants. Saying that something's nonsensical is not SHOWING that it is nonsensical. Con's second source offers no citation for the numbers it gives, nor does it provide any methodology by which it attained those numbers. This source is questionable too. Furthermore, Con only addresses my point A argument, that people will educate themselves. He never addressed my point B that parties will educate voters. It's DROPPED, extend it.

Point 3: Quality

Cross-apply my point B re: educating voters here.

(1) Con agrees that only 1-2% of voters cast bad votes. Half of these, my source notes, will be spoiled or invalidated by their authors, so they won't be counted. So few donkey votes are counted then, that with an increase in voting of between 15-30 points on average, the effect of bad votes is negligible. They are "incapable of distorting outcomes." And, regardless of how many actually turnout, CV still boosts turnout by large margins.

(2) Con defines a "quality" vote as one that "would have been cast without compulsion." This would mean that all compelled votes lack quality--which isn't true. When voting was first introduced in Australia (1925), turnout increased by nearly 33%. [4] So, 1-2% of poorly cast votes is a drop in the bucket. So clearly many votes cast only because voters are compelled to cast them are quality votes, judging by Con's own source and judging by the fact that people made a premeditated effort to vote well, as Lisa Hill describes. CV does not endanger quality.


1. Low turnout is bad: it hardens socio-economic divides and elitism. Con dropped these points. CV boosts turnout (Con dropped this) and so it solves for this.
2. CV reduces free riding and violence; it brings moderates to the polls.
3. Voting can be compelled insofar as the benefits to society outweigh the objections. con misinterpreted and dropped this point.
4. CV promotes education as I show in point B, which was dropped.
5. Con uses his quality claim against all my sub-points. Yet, the impacts of bad votes are negligible and non-unique. Thus, we can dismiss MOST of Con's attacks on my case just by taking out this claim.


1 -
2 -
3 - Harvard (previously cited)
4 -

Thank you to Subutai, Tyler, and the Judges! VOTE PRO!


Thanks Bsh!

-Voting is essential to a democracy
-Voluntary voting is status quo in democracies in the world and, as it is not forcing anyone to take any form of action, cannot be compared to the status quo nature of slavery, as slavery forced slaves into service. Therefore VV can be considered the standard form of voting
-VV is inherently desirable

Therefore the point of this debate is to prove which is more desirable: Voluntary, or Compulsory voting?

Con's Case

Point 1: CV limits freedom

My opponents points regarding the right to education is indeed debatable. The idea that all people posses the right to an education is accepted by the Con. The idea that all are compelled to receive education, however, is not. That is the matter of a different debate.

For the sake of debate I will address my opponents point. Children are not adults and do not enjoy the full gamut of rights that adults do. Therefore it is permissible to compel children to receive education, as you are not infringing upon the rights of an adult citizen. Only because the adult bears responsibility for their child are they compelled to ensure that their child attends schooling.

Pro argues that because you have a right to due process, you may compel others to serve on a jury. This, however, is different from compelling one to vote in that serving on a jury only affects you in that your free time is consumed. In voting, however, an uneducated voter may opt not to vote for fear of negatively affecting themselves or others. Jury duty is different in this respect: Serving on a jury only directly affects you by taking time, whereas voting directly affects you by taking time AND by having potential consequences against you. Therefore it is the right of a citizen to forgo their right to vote in order to allow what they may consider more proper votes to be put forth.

This is apparent in that it is logical to assume that if one voluntarily chooses not to vote, then logically they put no value in their vote. Furthermore, voting is only a way of measuring freedom of speech, which is a right one may make the choice not to employ.

Pro fails to create compelling argument against religious right to not vote. It is not proved that his point regarding forced jury duty is inherently desirable. Although law and church doctrine are typically separated in democracies, the right to practice your own religion is a right that one possesses. If CV forces you to not practice the aspect of your religion that forbids political involvement, then CV infringes upon this right.

My opponent did concede that CV limits freedom. I assume my opponent agrees with my previous statement that limiting factors on freedom ought to be avoided, and therefore agrees that limiting freedom is a negative aspect of CV.
VV is in this respect superior.

My point stands in the respect that Pro concedes that limiting freedom is negative, and that CV limits freedom. Furthermore I have sufficiently disproved my opponents claims against ones right to inaction. This renders VV superior in this respect.

Point 2: CV Lowers the quality of the vote.

Pro leaves idea that CV guarantees the casting of uneducated votes unscathed. I forward this point.

The Italy example is a case of how voters can be manipulated in to casting poor votes. Those who do not vote would be just as easily manipulated, therefore rendering CV less desirable.

Pros point regarding political education increasing still lacks any confirmed statistics.

"Overall, the median voter could correctly answer only two of the seven statements. Furthermore, just under one in four of the electorate could correctly answer five out of the seven statements, and only 13 percent could answer six. Only one voter in 20 had the highest level of knowledge by answering all seven questions correctly"(1)
Voters in Australia have been compelled to vote for over 100 years now but still posses a political education that is comparable to that of the US. The French electorate however exceeds this level of political education. Therefore CV is not more desirable than VV in this respect.

Pro insinuates that parties will inform voters, but this obviously lends its self to misinformation and propaganda, therefore furthering my point regarding pollution of the polls.

Pro leaves my assertion that CV guarantees that the uneducated will vote not addressed.

These points sufficiently prove CV to have major negative impacts not experienced in VV.

Point 3: VV Lends to higher quality cotes.

Pro Still asserts that that the effects of bad votes is negligible but cites no source to back this claim up whereas I did cite a source to point out that bad votes may indeed harm the electoral process. Furthermore this statistic on "donkey votes" does not account for those who cast votes with little to no knowledge on a subject, but made their choice on minor suggestions from friends/family/etc. or what they saw on an ad (voters who would normally opt to avoid voting because of their own recognition of their own ignorance).

Pro misinterprets my point. In saying "votes that would have been cast without compulsion" I meant that the person would have voted whether or not they were being forced to. This does not imply that just because a vote is forced that it is inherently good. CV does however guarantee that all people who pose to provide low quality votes will still vote. CV does indeed "Pollute the Polls" as my previous source states and is therefore less desirable than VV.

Pro leaves assertion on "Voluntary Response Bias" unaffected and therefore concedes that self-selection ensures that those who vote are logically those with opinions based on knowledge of the subject.

Pro fails to sufficiently disprove that VV provides a higher quality selection of votes. CV is inferior to VV in this respect as well.

Pros Case

Point A: CV boosts turnout

This point is conceded but proved to not be inherently good. furthermore Statistics I've cited previously prove that Australian voter participation is not actually as high as it is expressed to be.

Point B: Low Turnout (is) Bad

Pro asserts that higher turnout is a factor in legitimizing a government, but states that it is not the only one. Pro concedes that higher turnout is not crucial to legitimizing, and therefore VV still results in a legitimate government, and CV is therefore not more desirable.
Pros perceived benefits of CV regarding " the socio-economically disadvantaged" and "minimization of elite power." are not rebutted, but are not of greater benefit than the harms brought on by CV.

Point C: Free Riders

Pro seems to insinuate that a person who pays taxes on time, works very hard, and contributes to the community well is still a "free rider." This is illogical. Just because the votes of others benefits you doesn't mean that you are necessarily mooching off of their efforts. A person who believes themselves unfit for voting may fear that their vote will harm more than help (I have previously proved that a person who voluntarily does not vote logically does not value their vote) and therefore opts not to vote, leaving the decision in the hands of those whom they perceive to be more fitting to vote.
Because the problem proposed by PRO lacks inherency, the point asserted by pro is irrelevant.

Point D: Polarization

Pro asserts that CV forces moderates to vote but cites no evidence to suggest that the majority of non-voters are moderate. Pro fails to properly prove why polarization is necessarily negative

Point E: Reduces Violence

My opponent cites sources regarding violence in countries that are relatively new to democratic systems and some are also allegedly corrupt.(2)(3)(4)

Pro then points out non-violence after elections in America, a voluntary voting state, and therefore only adds to the superiority of VV

1. Con contends that CV limits freedom. VV does not and is in this respect more desirable.

2. Con contends that CV Will lower the quality of votes. Pro counters are loose and indirect and do not sufficiently disprove Con's assertion

3. Con asserts that VV Lends to higher vote quality due to factors such as Voluntary Response Bias. Pro only rebuts the lowering of quality in CV (but not sufficiently), but does not rebut that VV results in more thoughtful, higher quality voting.

4. Pro Contends higher turnout is good. This is countered by Cons points on vote quality.

5. Pro concedes that high turnout alone does not legitimize a government. Making CV no more desirable than VV in this respect.

6. Pro contends that CV reduces "Free-riders" but lacks sufficient definition of "Free-riding". Con rebuts this point and renders it irrelevant.

7. Pro contends that CV reduces polarization, but fails to sufficiently prove how, or how this benefits outweigh the harms set forth by Con.

8. Pro Contends that CV reduces violence, but does not point out direct causation, correlation, or proper statistical evidence to prove so. Con rebuts.

9. Flaws of CV pointed out by Con are not apparent in VV

10. Benefits of VV are reduced or eliminated by VV

CON has won this debate as I have proved that the benefits vs. negatives of VV are more desirable than the benefits vs. negatives of CV. I have proved almost all the "benefits" pointed out by pro to be nonexistent,based on speculation, or in actuality a harm. I have also sufficiently proved the numerous negatives of CV and the Benefits unique to VV.

The perceived benefits of CV as set forth by the Pro are vastly outweighed by the negatives and flaws set forth by the Con. The negatives of CV are also in almost all cases unique to CV.

Massive thanks to Subutai and Bsh1 for a VERY FUN debate! Thank you for your time and responses!


Debate Round No. 4
28 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Subutai 2 years ago
First off, I would like to say that this was a great performance by both debaters. Anyway, onto the points.

S/G: I found that giving pro this point just because of con's formatting was a little petty, as it wasn't impossible to read.

Conduct: I've decided to leave this alone because pro's and con's definitions of "new arguments" were different, plus I didn't see any new arguments from con.

Sources: I don't think a non-accessible source is necessarily a point against sources, because they still exist. If one would do some research, they'd find their standpoint and main arguments. Overall, pro had better sources than con, who relied too much on Wikipedia, plus he had fewer sources than pro.
Posted by Subutai 2 years ago
Arguments: I wholly agree with bladerunner that pro adding a "no vote" option to a compulsory ballot would essentially make most of con's case irrelevant, but as to the material in this debate, con won. A lot of pro's arguments were unsubstantiated slippery slopes, such as his polarization and violence arguments " he doesn't offer any proof of this, and simply assumes that these two things are the result of VV, and would be fixed in CV. For example, he doesn't prove that the nonvoters are mostly moderates. The free rider argument was also strange, because not voting can be a conscious decision meant to express one's political opinion.

On the quality arguments, con was the only one to offer any good proof " pro's "donkey vote" argument doesn't take into account that possibility of forged votes (i.e. randomly choosing one candidate). Con's evidence that countries with CV are no more politically informed than countries with VV was the most convincing of this argument, and therefore, I think the bulk of arguments should go to con because of the voluntary bias argument.

Finally, con wins the liberty argument. The right to vote is a privilege given by the state, whereas jury duty is a responsibility imposed by the state; they are fundamentally two different things. Also, con's religious argument was convincing, although exceptions could be made, as they compromise a small minority of the population. Pro tried to make voting a responsibility, and I don't think this was convincing on the constitutional scale.

Overall, I stress again that con's case could have been considered irrelevant if pro had mentioned the "no vote" option, but since he didn't, the quality over quantity argument is what wins the debate for con.

Again, a great performance by both sides, and definitely a debate worthy of DDO revival.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
I think that's a misinterpretation of the arguments made by Con, but I guess it is time to agree to disagree. Thanks for being willing to comment on your vote, and for casting a vote. Appreciate it.
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago

Right, he advocated for the choice of not voting. You wanted to *remove* that choice--it was up to you to provide solid justification for that removal. He doesn't have to make your argument for you; the argument lacking from your side, that would have demolished all of his points on not voting, was a "null-vote option", that would preserve all of his defenses for not voting, crystallize them in an option. You didn't give that option--and your attacks on the concept of not voting were not strong enough, IMHO, to demolish the concept. Null voting and not voting are two different things, yes--but in HIS framework, they may as well be identical for practical purposes. It's YOUR framework that suffered for not having it.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
@BlackVoid - I guess you can vote if you want to. Just check with Subutai first--you'll probably be able to.
Posted by BlackVoid 2 years ago
Damn it, I read this whole thing, then scrolled back to the top and saw only tourney judges could vote. Oh well. For the record, I would have voted Pro, and to massively condense what I would have written: Con drops political parties educating voters, the disadvantaged being abandoned (which undermines democracy and causes elitism), half of poor votes being destroyed, that CV isn't a rights violation, and has a very minimal response to Violence. Some of those drops were addressed later in his last round, but you can't drop an argument one round that then refute it in the last round, when Pro can't respond.

Pro is obviously very knowledgeable about the topic.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
@Bladerunner - thank you for your comment. I only have one last query. If there is a difference between not voting and null voting, then why did you vote Con. You said, "your opponent brought up the idea of the null vote as a legitimate choice, and you did not address the null vote as a legitimate choice." But, the fact is that Con NEVER ADVOCATED null voting, he only advocated not voting in the first place. Therefore there was nothing for me to respond to...
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
Well, it was not actually dropped--it was responded to. The response was to refer to the Quality Voting concept--a response you might not like, but that's not "dropped". He might just as well respond that you "dropped" his rights arguments (though you responded with in depth critiques) because you didn't respond to the point in the manner he intended.

While there is a real difference between not voting and a "null vote", it's a difference you'd have to explore--since Con's position allows for simply not voting.

On a side note, though, when I said "for you to also have the last opportunity to make any points seems, frankly, unfair," I'm...uh...not really sure what I was thinking. If it doesn't make sense...that's because it doesn't, and I apologize for being, apparently at loose ends.

On a side, side note, not to blow smoke up anywhere, but I just would like to note that you are a fine debater.
Posted by bsh1 2 years ago
@Blade - re: elitism: I extended a dropped argument. That's not making a new argument, that's extending a unrebutted old one. It would have been new if I had never mentioned it before, but I did. Con never mention his R4 responses before, so they're new. But, I guess we'll have to agree to disagree on this point.

That's not "null voting," that's just not voting at all. There is a very real and key distinction between the two.

And I believe that that was a misconstruction of my argument by Con when examined in context. But I guess we'll have to, again, agree to disagree.

Thanks for the feedback...
Posted by bladerunner060 2 years ago
For new responses vs. new arguments--I would say that if you want to abide by a specific leagues rules on the subject, that you'd want to indicate that, and I would immediately defer to the rulings of that league or setup.

DDOs rules are rather looser--it's why you have to specify things like "no new arguments" in your own setup, because there isn't a presumption of that like there might be elsewhere. TBH, I think we should have a few sets of "formal" rules that you can refer to in R1 so you don't HAVE to make your own each time and hope that isolated interpretation agrees with you--part of the benefit of that would be having precedent to point to for things like this. I may be too patient with "new responses"--I'm certainly willing to concede that may be the case. At some point, things raised by one party will simply not be able to be responded to whatsoever--because the debate has ended, or because of the way the rules have been set up. You had the benefit of establishing your case first...for you to also have the last opportunity to make any points seems, frankly, unfair, though if that's the rules you agreed to, it's the rules you agreed to, I suppose.

But by that standard, you too added arguments in R4--the only time "elite" is mentioned is a statement in your R2 opening case, in a quote from somewhere else. It was responded to by Con, in that he felt it was addressed by his Vote Quality arguments. In R4, you actually present a case for elitism being a consequence of VV. Similarly, Violence is brought up in passing in R2, responded to as being a slippery slop fallacy, then expanded on in R4. Were these new arguments? Expansions? A response to Con's argument that it was a slippery slope fallacy to simply assert violence?
3 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 3 records.
Vote Placed by Subutai 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:Vote Checkmark--2 points
Total points awarded:23 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.
Vote Placed by bladerunner060 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:-Vote Checkmark-3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:13 
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments
Vote Placed by LtCmdrData 2 years ago
Agreed with before the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Agreed with after the debate:-Vote Checkmark-0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: See the comments, dawgs.