The Instigator
Hierocles
Pro (for)
Winning
5 Points
The Contender
Grandbudda
Con (against)
Losing
2 Points

Voting in Elections is Always Better than Not Voting

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
Hierocles
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/20/2014 Category: Politics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 735 times Debate No: 44327
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (2)
Votes (2)

 

Hierocles

Pro

Open to any taker. I have heard the oft-repeated pernicious view that voting is an irrational act, and that voting in an imperfect system is somehow a form of selling out.

This view is a troubling self-fulfilling policy.

Everyone should vote in every election that you are eligible to vote in. Even if your candidate does not win, it is always worth it to try. A high voter turn out makes the democratic body more representative of the people, more efficacious, and it sends a message to those in high office what the people support.
Grandbudda

Con

While I agree that most of the time it's better to vote than not to vote I also feel that not voting can be a way to send a message in times of great injustice or when there is no good choice available. I don't agree that more voters produces a more democratic result or even a good result necessarily. Perhaps not voting can tell those in power and fellow citizens that your are choosing to not participate in whatever it is that you are protesting.
Debate Round No. 1
Hierocles

Pro

@Grandbudda, thank you for accepting my debate! Cheers!

WE AGREE THAT IT IS BETTER TO VOTE MOST OF THE TIME
I am glad that my opponent agrees that it's better to vote most of the time. However, he posits three claims in negation of my resolution. I will refute each of his claims with the following contentions.

[1] IT's BETTER TO BE COUNTED THAN DISCOUNTED

My opponent suggests "not voting can be a way to send a message in times of great injustice."

What message can be sent when someone chooses to NOT vote? A non-voter hopes that those in high office and other observers will realize that her lack of participation reflects a grievance that must be addressed. There are a few problems with this. (A) Election observers cannot understand what the grievance is if the only message is silence in the form of a passive non-vote. Political observers are likely to assume that the non-voter is lazy or apathetic. No subversive message will be received. (B) But what if a non-voter writes a letter to a representative explaining why she chose not to vote? A politician has little incentive to listen to someone not interested in voting; politicians can discount what cannot be counted on election day. In this case, this move would be strengthened if she chose to back up her convictions with a vote. A letter is more persuasive if she explains, "if you do not support X then I will vote for your opponent. If you support X then I will vote for you."

Voting is a better way to send a message than not-voting. When you vote you send a message that you support a candidate and or the ideas she stands for. In a direct referendum a person can communicate her support for a particular policy, and possibly help it get passed into law by voting for it. If you do not vote, you lose your chance to make that difference. In each case one"s vote is a clear sign that a policy or particular leader has a certain level of support among the people. In a democratic society, it is in the interest of the leaders to be receptive to those ideas with support so they can win reelection.

EXAMPLE: SOUTH AFRICA, 1994
South Africans had been living in times of great injustice. They lived under a policy of apartheid in which they were treated like second-class human beings. What message would have been sent if they chose to NOT vote in that historic "94 election? Would observers understand that they were expressing their dissatisfaction after decades of oppression by not voting? Probably not. The white Frederik Willem de Klerk would have been re-elected and continue to be the face of South Africa after blacks earned suffrage. Instead, despite decades of injustice, they chose to vote and elected the nation"s first black president, Nelson Mandela.

[2] EVALUATE ELECTIONS THROUGH THE ORIGINAL POSITION OF A VOTER

My opponent asserts "I don't agree that more voters produces a more democratic result or even a good result necessarily."

First of all, if more people vote, whether or not you favor the results, the election is by definition more democratic and more representative of the constituency (body of eligible voters) being represented.

But do more voters produce a better result?

How should my opponent and I consider this contention? If one provides a partisan historical example in the affirmative or negative it will prejudice one"s consideration of the proposition. If I argue a low voter turnout led to a BAD outcome, like the election of George W. Bush in 2000, then it may prejudice conservatives against my position. If my opponent argues that a low voter turnout led to a GOOD outcome, like the election of George W. Bush in 2000, then it may prejudice progressives against his position. And I assume my opponent, like me, does not wish to explode the topic by debating the virtues of progressivism over conservatism and vice-versa. Therefore, let"s consider this question from the Original Position first posited by John Rawls.

In one's current shoes, it's easy to assert that the world would be better if your ideological opponents stayed home on election day while your people vote in big numbers. But imagine if you could be any voter in any democratic election throughout time and space. To vote or not vote? That is the question. It will always be better to vote your conscience.

Let"s say you are a Republican in 1999 considering whether or not you should vote in the 2000 US presidential election between Bush and Gore. You believe in low taxes, low regulation, and traditional social values. You do not know the outcome but you have reason to believe that the election will be very close. Therefore you should vote in order to increase the likelihood that your values will be promoted. In 2000, if you are a sincere Republican then you should vote for Bush. Not voting would decrease the likelihood that your values will be promoted in high office and increase the likelihood that a candidate will be elected who is antithetical to your values. Therefore, you should vote. From the point of view of many Republicans, Bush was a success. Under Bush, taxes were cut and traditional social values were championed. OR
Let"s say you're a Democrat in 1999 considering whether or not you should vote in the 2000 US presidential election between Bush and Gore. You believe in a strong social safety net, regulated capitalism, and social liberalism. You do not know the outcome but you have reason to believe that the election will be very close. Therefore you should vote in order to increase the likelihood that your values will be promoted. From the point of view of a Democrat, more Democrats should of voted, especially in Florida. Under Bush more people fell into poverty and civil rights were pushed back a decade. In 2000, suppose you are a Nader supporter. It would still be better to vote than not vote because by voting you (1) increase the probability that your candidate may win, and (2) increase the apparent support for Nader and his ideas. By not voting you (1) have no impact on the election for either party, and (2) forsake your duty to express your point of view in a democracy.

Imagine you are a voter in a fledgling democracy where there may be some election fraud. You want to live in a stable society represented by honest leaders. In this case it is better to vote than not vote. If there is a high chance of fraud what will not voting accomplish? It will only make the ballot-box stuffer's job easier and the corrupt politician may cheat to achieve a legitimate win. If you do vote then there is at least an initial record of your choice. The corrupt leader might try to destroy this record or crowd it out with fake votes, but the corrupt leader will still have to expend energy, money, and resources to cheat. Voting is still better because voting provides a chance that the corrupt leader could be ousted. If he cheats, voting is better because the international community may discover the fraud and pressure him to perform a re-count. If there is a re-count you will want to be among the counted. Lastly, voting is better because it will make the corrupt leader aware that a sizable percentage do NOT support him. With this new information he may consider instituting popular reforms or even consider a graceful exit in the near future so that he will not be embarrassed in the next election. Therefore, even in the case of a corrupt election, voting provides at least some marginal advantages while not-voting provides no advantages.

[3] CHOOSING THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS PREVENTS GREATER EVIL OR
SEND A REAL MESSAGE WITH A WRITE-IN or THIRD PARTY VOTE

My opponent said that non-voting may be better " when there is no good choice available."

Not voting accomplishes nothing. If you dislike the two mainstream party candidates then vote for a third party or write-in a candidate! Your candidate could win.

List of third party wins: http://en.wikipedia.org...
Grandbudda

Con

Voting is widely thought to be one of the most important things a person can do. But the reasons people give for why they vote and why everyone else should too are flawed, unconvincing, and sometimes even dangerous. The case for voting relies on factual errors, misunderstandings about the duties of citizenship, and over inflated perceptions of self-worth. There are some good reasons for people to vote some of the time. But there are a lot of bad reasons to vote, and the bad ones are more popular.

Every Vote Counts
Your vote will almost certainly not determine the outcome of any public election. In all of American history, a single vote has never determined the outcome of a presidential election. University of California, Berkeley, economist Aaron Edlin used poll results from the 2008 election to calculate that the chance of a randomly selected vote determining the outcome of a presidential election is about one in 60 million.

Voting Is a Civic Duty
Many people who follow politics closely hold views that are dangerous and wrong (see George Mason University economist Bryan Caplan"s October 2007. Even if everyone who had the slightest suspicion that he was not knowledgeable enough to vote stayed home on Election Day, millions of people would still be casting ill-informed votes. The gap between the promised and real consequences of electing one guy over the other is very difficult to anticipate. Millions were hopeful that President Barack Obama would be better than his predecessor on issues such as civil liberties and the war on drugs. Look how that turned out. You don"t know as much as you think.

Rock the Vote
Encouraging more ignorant people to vote is not just pointless, argues Jason Brennan; it"s morally wrong. There is no duty to vote, but many people may have a duty not to vote. Boosting turnout among citizens who are young, uneducated, or otherwise less likely to be engaged"the primary targets of get-out-the-vote campaigns"is likely to have the unintended consequence of encouraging people to fail in that duty. Washing one"s hands of the whole system is a good way to ensure that they remain clean, even when the politicos are dirty.

If You Don"t Vote, Don't Complain
Say a man votes and his candidate wins. The voter is then "understood to have assented" to the acts of his representative. Most of the time people are disappointed in the person they elect. The right to complain is, mercifully, unrelated to any hypothetical duty to vote. It was ensured, instead, by the Founders, all of whom were extraordinary bellyachers themselves.

Electoral College
A U.S. presidential candidate only needs 50 percent of votes from the popular states to win 100 percent of the state"s electoral votes. The Electoral College also gives votes to states and not to the people. Don"t you think this has unfair consequences? Are the smaller states" interests really protected from the bigger states" interests? By giving votes to smaller states, the Electoral College also perceives that fewer people live where they actually do and more people live where they actually do not. The electoral votes make presidential candidates interested only in a few states, at the detrimental cost of all fellow Americans.

So, friends do you still think your votes matter? As American citizens, why do we actually vote? Do we vote since it is our constitutional right to vote, regardless of the final outcome? Or do we vote to pacify our conscience that we have supposedly voiced our opinion and performed our civic duty, regardless of the final outcome? In any case I can sleep well knowing that my vote doesn't really matter especially in a system so flawed.

Our political candidates are hand picked by monied interests and then paraded to the voters after they've been purchased. My opponent talks about it "being better to be counted than discounted" by voting. This sounds great except that our vote is already discounted before we even start.

My opponent says to "EVALUATE ELECTIONS THROUGH THE ORIGINAL POSITION OF A VOTER"
The candidate that wins often becomes something else. How many would vote again for Obama, either Bush or even Bill Clinton. The progressive ends up moving toward the middle and so does the conservative. Because at the end of the day these candidates more often than not really don't believe in anything except getting re elected. I don't see how more ignorant people voting is more democratic. The fact is that the majority of voters cast their vote not on issues but looks, hype and following the crowd. Most people can't tell you three things the candidate is about.

CHOOSING THE LESSER OF TWO EVILS PREVENTS GREATER EVIL OR SEND A REAL MESSAGE WITH A WRITE-IN or THIRD PARTY VOTE.
This may be the most ridiculous argument of all. If I have to choose the lesser of two evils then I'm choosing someone that by definition I don't want. That is just stupid! I can write in or vote for a third party. The net effect of these actions are to elect the favored candidate of one of the two main parties. I would never choose to do that. I'm
Sixty years old and I've voted in every election since 1972. The last presidential election that I voted in was 1992 when I wasted my vote for Ross Perot the independent candidate. Since my vote basically elected Bill Clinton I realized just how useless it was. Then because I live in New York I also realize that only democrats will ever get my vote. So I have happily not voted for president since and I've seen the quality of our candidates dwindle over the years.

So while I don't suggest that you shouldn't vote, I hope you will agree that I don't feel that I should.
Debate Round No. 2
Hierocles

Pro

VOTING ISSUES

My opponent concedes that not-voting has ZERO advantages while VOTING has at least some advantages. Therefore, on balance, you must vote PRO.


In this debate I don’t need to prove that voting is "the best thing you can do" nor that our electoral system is perfect. I only need to prove that voting is BETTER than not-voting. My opponent argued in round 2 that voting cannot solve every problem, granted, but he conceded that voting has some advantages while not-voting has zero advantages; therefore you must vote PRO.

Round 1: Grandbudda: “I agree that most of the time it's better to vote than not to vote“

Round 2: Grandbudda: “I don't suggest that you shouldn't vote”

Grandbudda asserted supposed advantages of not-voting in round 1; all of which were refuted in my opening round 2 response.


PREFER EVIDENCE OVER MERE ASSERTION. Many of Grandbudda’s arguments are big claims with ZERO evidence. Regardless of your personal biases, in a debate claims should be backed up with hard evidence. Read over his round 2 case and count the amount of claims he makes with zero evidence. All of my arguments are supported with examples from recent history or I cite studies with a link to a reputable website. Prefer the side that uses empirical evidence. VOTE PRO.

He failed to attack all of the PRO VOTING advantages I spelled out in round 2. In debate, if you fail to respond to an argument then you concede the argument. He failed to defend any of his non-voting advantages in his round 2 response, opting instead to spend the entire round making these three points in one form or another:

1) Sometimes ignorant people vote and that’s bad

2) Voting is irrational because most elections aren’t decided by a single vote

3) Sometimes politicians do not keep all of their election promises

Let’s consider each of these points one by one



1) Grandbudda: Ignorant People Shouldn't Vote
Hierocles:Prefer a Rawlsian Ethical Analysis Over Assuming A Voter is Ignorant Because of Her Race or Age

Who's to say who is too ignorant to vote? It’s convenient to assume that voters whom you disagrees with are misguided. But if you place yourself in the shoes of the person(s) in question then you will probably NOT assume that YOU are ignorant or misguided.

In Grandbudda’s example he argues that people like Rock the Vote’s young people are too ignorant to vote. Grandbudda fails to consider the Rawlsian Original Position. He fails to realize that he could be a new voter who registered with Rock the Vote.

You could be a young American voter in 2007 considering whether or not to vote. You know that you are worried about student debt, the war in Iraq, and health care. Therefore, you vote for Obama because he campaigned on the issues you care about. Since 2008, American troops have pulled out of Iraq, student loan interest is down, and health-care reform (for better or worse) has passed, just as Obama promised. Although Obama is imperfect, according to the Pulitzer Prize winning PolitiFact, Obama has kept approx. 70% of his campaign promises. Therefore, my opponent’s assertion that politicians never keep their campaign promises is clearly false. (More on this below in contention 3.)
<http://www.politifact.com...>

Grandbudda argues that “citizens who are young, uneducated, or otherwise less likely to be engaged” should not vote.

Assuming that people you’ve never met are too ignorant to vote because of their age, class, or race is prejudiced and wrong. Who’s to say what people are “less likely to be engaged”? Instead of assuming that others are ignorant, use the Rawlsian Original Position to place yourself in the shoes of the person in question.



2) Grandbudda: Voting is Irrational Because a US Presidential Election Has Never Been Won By a Single Vote

A) Voters are aware that they are working in concert with fellow voters, like voters in the same political party, to achieve a certain objective on election day. Saying voting is irrational is akin to saying singing in a choir is irrational because one singer will not make it a choir. It’s akin to saying attending a parade is irrational because one person won’t make it a parade. This is a logical fallacy of composition.

If people don’t vote because they assume that their vote won’t make a difference then that collective decision makes a huge difference in a lower voter turnout. But if people choose to vote because they understand that millions of voters’ collective decision to vote can make a huge difference, then they will make a difference. To quote Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can, or you think you can't--you're right.” Case in point, in 2000 the US president was determined by less than 600 Floridian voters; I think their votes made a HUGE difference.

B) In the US over 20 elections have been determined by a single vote.

Here’s the list:http://cltr.co.douglas.nv.us...

C) Many elections were decided by less than 1% of the electorate: http://en.wikipedia.org...



3) Grandbudda: Voting is a Waste Because Politicians Never Keep Their Campaign Promises

This is clearly an empirical/historical question, yet Grandbudda makes the claim with ZERO evidence to back it up.

So I’ll provide some evidence. According to the Tampa Bay Time’s Pulitzer Prize winning Fact-Checking project PolitiFact, Obama has met 70% of his campaign promises so far. <http://www.politifact.com...; Obama, love him or hate him, was reelected in 2012 because he’s kept most of his 2008 promises, not because people are stupid.

According to PolitiFact, the GOP congressional leaders have kept approx 68% of their 2010 campaign promises. <http://www.politifact.com...;

The charge that politicians never keep their campaign promises is false. It’s worth your time to vote.



OTHER ISSUES

1) Electoral College: This is off-topic. Besides, a low voter turnout would only worsen this problem, especially for those from the neglected states.

2) Grandbudda: “Our political candidates are picked by monied interests”

This is a popular and cynical view to hold, but it’s not supported by the facts. Many times the non-establishment candidate wins the primary. In 2010 over 60 of the congressional races were won by the candidate that had less campaign dough. In many of the bigger spender wins, it could be attributed to advantages reaped from being the incumbent in a safe district. In most close races, the smaller spender won about half of the time. SOURCE:<http://www.opensecrets.org...; If politicians were commodities to be bought and sold then the highest bidder would always win - that's not the case.

3) Regarding Third Parties: Grandbudda: “ I can write in or vote for a third party. The net effect of these actions are to elect the favored candidate of one of the two main parties.”

This is not true. Sometimes third parties win.

Source: <http://en.wikipedia.org...;

Furthemore:

“Voting for a third party candidate allows constituents to make a profound statement regarding their dissatisfactions with the platforms of both of the candidates that might be elected. In large numbers, these votes can change the behavior of the two major parties in future elections by encouraging them to incorporate the views of third parties.

<http://www.yale.edu...;

Our democracy still has a lot of problems, but inaction solves nothing. As citizens of a democracy, it is our responsibility to add our voices so we are represented in our government. Falling into cynicism is the lazy way out; accept complexity and fight to make it better. In a democracy, your fight will always be more effective if you backup your convictions with a vote; be counted.

History proves that progress can be made.

Grandbudda

Con

Con
Voting Is Always Better Than Not Voting.

My opponent states that he doesn't need to prove that: " voting is "the best thing you can do" nor that our electoral system is perfect. I only need to prove that voting is BETTER than not-voting." That's really not correct he must prove that voting is ALWAYS better than not voting. While I contend that voting is not ALWAYS better than not voting. We know this because we can read the debate issue before us.

I do agree as has been stated that "most of the time it's better to vote than not to vote." That is not contrary to my contention that it's not always better to vote. For example if an election were held where both candidates were bigots I'm not served well by voting for either candidate. If my candidate is a minor party who hasn't met the requirements by local election law in shouldn't have to vote for someone else.

My opponent has failed to make his case except to state his personal opinion. No one can or should dictate to someone else that he must vote. If there exists no real choice in voting then common sense compels us to realize that not voting is our right. My opponent believes apparently that underlining and Capitalizing make is argument stronger somehow but I feel that my arguments stand on their own. I don't need to vote to be a patriot, in fact I'm more of a patriot because I'm being true to my beliefs and not selling out.

I would ask that you read our facts and presentation of our arguments and make your decision based upon thoughtful reflection. I never said that ignorant people shouldn't vote merely that they do vote. Perhaps if only informed people thoughtfully voted we would have better results. He likes to jump to conclusions and make untrue accusations but the truth is that many people don't know who they're voting for and yet they vote. I don't see how that produces good results.

My opponent stated that "You could be a young American voter in 2007 considering whether or not to vote. You know that you are worried about student debt, the war in Iraq, and health care. Therefore, you vote for Obama because he campaigned on the issues you care about." I agree if you have a candidate that you like you should vote for him. But don't ask me to vote if I don't agree with those issues. In essence he's saying that I should vote whether I like it or not.

I have said that encouraging ignorant voters to vote without educating them is wrong. If 100% of the people vote in Russia or China did they really accomplish anything ? I think not, in fact not voting maybe actually more valuable. It doesn't take any courage to slap on your "I voted" sticker to prove you did something.

My opponent uses the case of Florida in 2000 to show why it's so important to vote. I don't live in a Florida, I live in New York. The last time a Conservative carried New York was probably before most of you were born. If I know that by voting my vote is a waste then I will choose not to vote. The fact is that if a state goes to one candidate by a single vote he gets 100% of the electoral votes which is how we elect our Presidents.

My opponent says that voters work "in concert with fellow voters, like voters in the same political party, to achieve a certain objective on election day." That's a good analogy, but the song they're singing is the same old out of tune melody. I don't want to listen to it anymore and I don't care for their singing. My opponent is good and tearing down others but short on proving his argument. I was hoping to hear a litany of positives for having voted and yet I didn't.

Then my opponent states "I"ll provide some evidence. According to the Tampa Bay Time"s Pulitzer Prize winning Fact-Checking project PolitiFact, Obama has met 70% of his campaign promises so far. <http://www.politifact.com......; Obama, love him or hate him, was reelected in 2012 because he"s kept most of his 2008 promises, not because people are stupid." Obama's promises have crippled this country. He has driven our debt to unsustainable heights. The fact that Obama has kept his promises is not a selling point. He's the most unethical and dishonest president who makes Nixon look like a boy scout. He was re elected in 2012 because he got herds of ignorant uninformed voters to vote for him. Not that Romney would have been better. That's kind of my point, our system is broken and just continuing to vote and slap on our voting sticker isn't helping.

My opponent says: "Electoral College: This is off-topic." I don't see how the way that we elect our president should be off topic. The fact is that if you're from 10 or so states your vote counts. The other 40 states don't depending on who your candidate is. If your from Ohio or Florida your vote means something. If you're a liberal in Texas or a Conservative in Massachusetts it doesn't period.

I have stated that : "Our political candidates are picked by monied interests ." My opponent wants to argue that isn't true. After laughing heartily I restate my point. It costs one Billion dollars to run for president. That's not coming from yours and my contributions. Just because my view is cynical doesn't mean its wrong.

My opponent says: "Voting for a third party candidate allows constituents to make a profound statement regarding their dissatisfactions with the platforms of both of the candidates that might be elected." I agree but what if there is no third party candidate or mine wasn't allowed in the race ? I'm not going to vote for the same side of the same coin. I would contend that we don't really live in a democracy. Both parties are bought and paid for and except at the margins aren't that dissimilar. So I disagree with my opponent who says: "As citizens of a democracy, it is our responsibility to add our voices so we are represented in our government." That's what it should be but unfortunately our political system has been hijacked and has left us for the past nearly thirty years.

Perhaps if we had major election reform then we could get back to a more fair system. But whether you agree with me or not that's not the issue. The issue is again as stated: "voting is always better than not voting" For Pro to win he has to prove that is the case. For Con to win I merely have to prove that it's not always the case. Well sitting here in New York as a conservative voting for president since 1992 it's been Clinton, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, Obama and Obama and in 2016 it'll be another Clinton in all likelihood. Since I can't afford to move then I'm stuck. I think this proves my case.
Debate Round No. 3
2 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Posted by Hierocles 3 years ago
Hierocles
Hardly...
A) The many local elections still matter because they make a huge difference in terms of how federal programs are implemented since most federal programs work through the states

B) It's better to be counted than discounted. If you vote for a third party or vote for a popular write-in candidate you at least send a message of dissatisfaction with the two mainstream parties; if you don't vote no one will notice because your view will literally not be counted. If you do vote then your alternative point of view will be tabulated and studied by political consultants - so your view could alter the behavior of the two mainstream parties that will try to win your vote.

C) Voting in the primary ultimately determines who will run in the general election. It's problematic to be dissatisfied by the general candidates if you are entirely apathetic during the primaries.

D) In conclusion, as I demonstrated in the actual debate, voting has at least some potential benefits while not-voting provides zero benefits, potential or otherwise. Therefore, voting is better than not-voting.

Respectfully submitted,
Hierocles
Posted by Grandbudda 3 years ago
Grandbudda
If the choice in 2016 is another Bush or Clinton then it will prove my point that our republic has been stolen.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Josh_b 3 years ago
Josh_b
HieroclesGrandbuddaTied
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Total points awarded:32 
Reasons for voting decision: Although con makes some good points, he often negates his own side with his constant agreement of importance in voting. One of Con's worst arguments, was that not voting sends a message. I'm not sure what that message is, but it seems like part of the problem not the solution. Pro's best argument is that the outcome can be decided by the number of votes in favor of a certain choice, or by the number of people who are not in favor of the opposition. Con's source points are given for his experience in voting and not voting.
Vote Placed by PiercedPanda 3 years ago
PiercedPanda
HieroclesGrandbuddaTied
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Reasons for voting decision: This debate was very equal. Both sides displayed their arguments, and effectively rebutted their opponents points. This was very hard to vote for. But Hierocles at least displayed his sources, giving him an edge on who used the most reliable sources.