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Why voting should be mandatory..

sdavio
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6/8/2014 6:11:41 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
First of all, it is a part of the nature of any large-scale political vote that the chances of the results being so close to a tie that one vote decides the winner is so negligible as to be reasonably averaged out to zero for the sake of argument.

Therefore, with that distinction out of the way, we can say with certainty that when a person votes, they are doing so with the absolute knowledge that this action will essentially have no effect on what occurs in the world whatsoever. That is, the outcome of voting or not voting is equal. So, why vote? The only possible type of answer is clear; it must be something to the effect that it puts a person in "good faith", since no answer referring to the actual impact of voting is possible, since it is non-existent. The answer must be a spiritual, rather than secular. That is, a person votes because of what it represents, what is does for their soul, rather than for any outcome in physical reality.

So, what exactly does voluntarily voting represent, as an action? The primary thing is a win/lose exchange between the individual and society. The individual gains nothing from their act of voting, but the aggregate of all people requires that each individual does vote. Hence, it is a subsuming of a person's individual will into that of something external to them. It dehumanizes the person; makes them a cog in a machine, makes them irrational (and equates their will to that of their role in society).

We then come to compare the system of places like Australia, where voting is mandatory, and other places where it is voluntary. The message given by society to the individual when voting is mandatory, is a relatively clear one. We might compare it to a parent saying to a child, "Don't do X, because of reason Y, and if you disobey you'll receive punishment Z." The society needs a certain action from the individual, and since it is clearly not in the individual's personal interest, the society tips the scale so that it is in their interest, due to the added factor of the punishment. Afterward, all the society asks for on the part of the individual is that they might act purely in their own self-interest; they don't need even to agree with the society's logic, only have a personal wish to avoid the punishment for not voting. Here, the society (or government,) makes it clear that its relationship with each individual is an adversarial one, that is, it is honest to them.

Note that while it's not in the individual's interest to be forced to vote, it is also not in their interest to abolish forced voting as an institution, since they do want everyone else to vote.

On the other hand, the society with voluntary voting asks something very different from the citizen. It asks that the citizen comply with the society, to subsume their own will into that of society. It makes the society a kind of God, since the primary action of all the citizens on which the democracy functions is a kind of universal asceticism. This could be compared to the parent saying to the child, "Do action X, otherwise I'll be disappointed." The reason given to the individual to comply is not a rational one, but is predicated on a perceived mental, spiritual connection between the person and the authority.

Thus, I believe that the more rational democratic society would be one where voting is mandatory.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
sdavio
Posts: 1,800
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6/8/2014 6:14:10 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
Basically:

- It is never rationally in a person's interest to vote.
- Volunteering to vote is therefore irrational.
- A society where voting is voluntary functions essentially on an irrational action on the part of each individual.
- A society functioning on rational action would be more rational than a society functioning on irrational action.
- A democracy where voting is forced would be more rational than a democracy where voting is voluntary.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
Volkov
Posts: 9,765
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6/8/2014 6:34:31 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 6:11:41 AM, sdavio wrote:
That is, a person votes because of what it represents, what is does for their soul, rather than for any outcome in physical reality.

I'm sure some people actually do see it in this way, but I disagree entirely. I'll get into why in a minute.

So, what exactly does voluntarily voting represent, as an action? The primary thing is a win/lose exchange between the individual and society. The individual gains nothing from their act of voting, but the aggregate of all people requires that each individual does vote. Hence, it is a subsuming of a person's individual will into that of something external to them. It dehumanizes the person; makes them a cog in a machine, makes them irrational (and equates their will to that of their role in society).

We then come to compare the system of places like Australia, where voting is mandatory, and other places where it is voluntary. The message given by society to the individual when voting is mandatory, is a relatively clear one. We might compare it to a parent saying to a child, "Don't do X, because of reason Y, and if you disobey you'll receive punishment Z." The society needs a certain action from the individual, and since it is clearly not in the individual's personal interest, the society tips the scale so that it is in their interest, due to the added factor of the punishment. Afterward, all the society asks for on the part of the individual is that they might act purely in their own self-interest; they don't need even to agree with the society's logic, only have a personal wish to avoid the punishment for not voting. Here, the society (or government,) makes it clear that its relationship with each individual is an adversarial one, that is, it is honest to them.

So the solution to not allowing individuals to subsume themselves to the will of society and demand they vote is to... force them to subsume themselves to the will of society and demand they vote? Eh?

Note that while it's not in the individual's interest to be forced to vote, it is also not in their interest to abolish forced voting as an institution, since they do want everyone else to vote.

Who says I want everyone else to vote?

On the other hand, the society with voluntary voting asks something very different from the citizen. It asks that the citizen comply with the society, to subsume their own will into that of society. It makes the society a kind of God, since the primary action of all the citizens on which the democracy functions is a kind of universal asceticism. This could be compared to the parent saying to the child, "Do action X, otherwise I'll be disappointed." The reason given to the individual to comply is not a rational one, but is predicated on a perceived mental, spiritual connection between the person and the authority.

Thus, I believe that the more rational democratic society would be one where voting is mandatory.

It seems to me that society would be more like "God" if it forced people to vote, just like God forces people to worship him, rather than a society allowing people the free choice of voting. Just saying.

Anyways, back to the first point. I don't think many people see voting as some sort of "spiritual exercise" - they see quite clearly the physical (such as that term can be applied to our abstract political process) results of deciding to vote, namely supporting a candidate/party for office and getting policies implemented that you agree with or will benefit you. I doubt many people truly feel spiritually enlightened by the process, though its always exciting to vote for the first time.

If you go with mandatory voting, you're basically taking away any sort of "spiritual" component anyways. Voting becomes a chore you have to do, rather than a choice you get to make. I fail to see how that improves things.
sdavio
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6/8/2014 6:44:35 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 6:34:31 AM, Volkov wrote:
Anyways, back to the first point. I don't think many people see voting as some sort of "spiritual exercise" - they see quite clearly the physical (such as that term can be applied to our abstract political process) results of deciding to vote, namely supporting a candidate/party for office and getting policies implemented that you agree with or will benefit you.

But my point is that the outcome is almost never decided by any one particular vote, rather by an aggregate of votes, so that in the vast majority of cases any particular person could have not voted and the outcome would have been the same. This means that it's never in my personal interest to vote, since my vote in itself makes no difference.

That means the only factor deciding whether I vote in a purely rational case would be the time and effort it takes to do so, with no actual difference being made in the result.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
Volkov
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6/8/2014 6:55:40 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 6:44:35 AM, sdavio wrote:
But my point is that the outcome is almost never decided by any one particular vote, rather by an aggregate of votes, so that in the vast majority of cases any particular person could have not voted and the outcome would have been the same. This means that it's never in my personal interest to vote, since my vote in itself makes no difference.

That means the only factor deciding whether I vote in a purely rational case would be the time and effort it takes to do so, with no actual difference being made in the result.

Except that it is in your personal interest to vote if you want to see your chosen candidate or party win - after all, in order for a decision to be made, there must indeed be an aggregate of votes, and the only way to ensure that one side has more votes than the other when taking your personal views into account, is to ensure that you add your individual vote to the aggregate. The only real way to get from there to "but my vote doesn't count" is if you didn't really give a crap in the first place.

You should also remember that its unlikely "non-voters" are mostly people who simply think their votes won't count. A lot of the time the choice of not voting is a conscious decision, maybe because none of the choices offered to you are what you want, or because you just don't care (sometimes as well you're just assuming whoever you like will win anyways, so why take the time out of your day?). With mandatory voting, forcing those people to vote is like saying you MUST make a party choice, regardless of whether or not you actually care about what is going on - and what ends up happening is that you have a lot of voters who just tick a box beside a name and leave it at that, becoming disengaged voters who have to vote anyways. That, right there, is a true example of a wasted vote.
sdavio
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6/8/2014 7:08:21 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 6:55:40 AM, Volkov wrote:
Except that it is in your personal interest to vote if you want to see your chosen candidate or party win - after all, in order for a decision to be made, there must indeed be an aggregate of votes, and the only way to ensure that one side has more votes than the other when taking your personal views into account, is to ensure that you add your individual vote to the aggregate. The only real way to get from there to "but my vote doesn't count" is if you didn't really give a crap in the first place.

We can assume that it is extremely unlikely that the position of all votes except mine will be a tie, and that therefore mine will decide the outcome. Therefore, assuming X is the party which would otherwise win, I have two possible choices of action:

1) Don't vote, and X wins.
2) Vote, and X wins.

Therefore, in my personal interest, the only deciding factor is the time and energy used to actually vote, so it is always a negative outcome on my part. "Adding my vote to the aggregate" amounts to precisely nothing.

Basically, this is a variation on the 'tragedy of the commons'.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx
Volkov
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6/8/2014 7:44:47 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 7:08:21 AM, sdavio wrote:
We can assume that it is extremely unlikely that the position of all votes except mine will be a tie, and that therefore mine will decide the outcome. Therefore, assuming X is the party which would otherwise win, I have two possible choices of action:

1) Don't vote, and X wins.
2) Vote, and X wins.

Therefore, in my personal interest, the only deciding factor is the time and energy used to actually vote, so it is always a negative outcome on my part. "Adding my vote to the aggregate" amounts to precisely nothing.

Basically, this is a variation on the 'tragedy of the commons'.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the tragedy of the commons relates to individual actions running counter to a larger group's best interests by using up a common resource. What variation on that idea are you using that takes squares with that?

However, I'm going to say here that I probably can't argue with purely rational arguments against this idea, because you're very probably right - however, I don't think voting should be looked at in a purely rational, zero-sum manner anyways. That doesn't take into account the billion-and-one reasons how someone does decide to vote (or not vote, as the case may be). I mean, if you want to boil it down to just that, I doubt you had any serious interest in voting to begin with. It's just going to come down to a difference of opinion in the end.
sdavio
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6/8/2014 8:07:13 AM
Posted: 2 years ago
At 6/8/2014 7:44:47 AM, Volkov wrote:
At 6/8/2014 7:08:21 AM, sdavio wrote:
We can assume that it is extremely unlikely that the position of all votes except mine will be a tie, and that therefore mine will decide the outcome. Therefore, assuming X is the party which would otherwise win, I have two possible choices of action:

1) Don't vote, and X wins.
2) Vote, and X wins.

Therefore, in my personal interest, the only deciding factor is the time and energy used to actually vote, so it is always a negative outcome on my part. "Adding my vote to the aggregate" amounts to precisely nothing.

Basically, this is a variation on the 'tragedy of the commons'.

Correct me if I'm wrong, but the tragedy of the commons relates to individual actions running counter to a larger group's best interests by using up a common resource. What variation on that idea are you using that takes squares with that?

It's a variation because it doesn't involve resources in the same way, but it's similar in that both involve an individual's interests being directly at odds with those of the aggregate.

However, I'm going to say here that I probably can't argue with purely rational arguments against this idea, because you're very probably right - however, I don't think voting should be looked at in a purely rational, zero-sum manner anyways. That doesn't take into account the billion-and-one reasons how someone does decide to vote (or not vote, as the case may be). I mean, if you want to boil it down to just that, I doubt you had any serious interest in voting to begin with. It's just going to come down to a difference of opinion in the end.

A difference of opinion, however, on the issue of whether the foundational principle of the paradigm (voluntary democracy) accepted by an overwhelming majority is rational or dependent upon faith, is an important one. You seem to be painting me as being a reductionist (which is a criticism I consistently seem to be faced with on this site- it's always "more complicated than that") but I'll challenge you to specify exactly what I'm leaving out of the picture here that changes the principle of my point.
"Logic is the money of the mind." - Karl Marx