Free to vote, free to not


The angst over low voter turnout has resulted in the inevitable suggestion of compulsion:

A political scientist says compulsory voting would be the easiest way to lift declining number of people voting.

About a million people did not vote in Saturday’s election.

The Electoral Commission estimates voter turnout was 77 percent of those enrolled, which is up from 74 percent in 2011. . .

Julian Lee counters that by explaining why he doesn’t vote:

Until today I’ve always tried to keep my filthy non-voting habits to myself. . .

You could enter a polling booth on election day stark drunk, barely able to stand, unable to think or concentrate, mindlessly tick the ballot paper and you would earn more respect from the voting public than if you had soberly and sincerely made the conscious decision not to vote.

I have given this decision hours and hours of thought. I’ve read all the parties’ policies. I have weighed and speculated and considered every possible option.

And my conclusion? I choose not to participate in the game.

But I’ve finally decided to publicly own up because I think it is bizarre I should feel ashamed of a political opinion in what most people would consider a free and tolerant society. . .

He goes on to discuss his reasons which includes thinking it won’t make a difference because bureaucrats rather than politicians control everything.

I disagree with his reason but agree with his conclusion:

. . .  And surely, every else taken into consideration, I have the right to choose not to choose?

If we are free to vote we should also be free to not vote.

Better a lower number of people voting freely for whatever reason motivates them than a larger number voting because they are compelled to.


Free to not vote


The declining number of people who bother to exercise their right to vote has led to discussion on whether or not voting should be compulsory.

However, over the Tasman, Queensland is asking if compulsory voting should be scrapped for state elections.

The freedom to vote is one of the basic rights in a democracy.

I believe that if you’re free to vote you should also be free to not vote.


Free to vote – or not


The low turn out for the election has prompted inevitable calls to make voting compulsory.

That would be an expensive waste of time and energy that would be better spent elsewhere.

I can think of a great deal many other useful ways to spend public money than on detecting and prosecuting people who don’t think or care enough to participate in the political process in this small but important way.

The apathy and ignorance here contrasts starkly to the lengths people go to in order to vote in other countries.

Early on Monday, queues formed outside polling stations in Cairo before the official opening time of 08:00 (06:00 GMT).

A high turnout was reported in many areas, and in places queues were said to have stretched up to 3km (two miles).

It is disturbing that people on the other side of the world are so keen to vote when many here simply couldn’t be bothered.

But that is no argument for compulsion. If we’re really free to vote we must also be free to not.

Compulsory voting?


The Herald has a readers poll asking if voting should be compulsory.

So far 467 people have voted, 56% of whom say yes.

I’m a definite no because while you can lead people to democracy but you can’t force them to participate.

Democracy gives you the right to vote and freedom enables you to choose to not use it.

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