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Illegal not to vote

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posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 08:08 AM
I have used the advanced search before posting this thread and did not get any results.

I believe it should be illegal NOT to vote in the UK. And for all national and local elections.

One change I would make to aid this would be a "none of the above box".

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 08:31 AM
I could not agree with you more.

Voting should be compulsory in this Country.

As my Dad says "If you don't vote, you can't complain"

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 08:45 AM
I have to say that I used to subscribe to this view in my younger days and could not understand why people could be so apathetic as not register a vote.

However, there is one very serious danger with this policy.

Even with a "none of the above" box, (which would be absolutely essential and still be a good thing even without compulsory voting), I would be very concerned that once compelled to vote a significant element of the current "can't be botherds" would be tempted to vote frivolously or for extreme candidates just to register a protest.

"Jolly good too" you may be tempted to say, that is, after all, the prupose of democracy but I disagree. Democracy, (the right to choose your Government and, therefore, take part in the constiutional process), has been a hard earned priviledge and if individuals cannot be bothered to attend a polling station without threat of punshment then they should lose that priviledge. The process of democracy should not be cheapened by encouraging those who don't care to treat it with contempt to the potential detriment of all of us.

[edit on 11-1-2007 by timeless test]

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 10:09 AM
Whilst I would love to see a system whereby all 'the people' felt engaged and happy to vote I am also very happy that we live in a system where one does not have to.

Australia proves that compulsory voting does not have to be the preserve of the despot or single-party dictatorship but personally I'd rather not take that path, I can see no valid reason for it and as Timeless Test has said may well engender a reaction that is at best unhelpful and at worst dangerous.

If people are so motivated that they actively refuse to vote then so be it; 'we' keep that statistic and their actions are noted (and policy formulated with that, at least to some extent, taken into account).
If people care so little that they refuse to vote then that too is recorded in the same statistic.

What is rather absurd to me is that it sometimes appears as if those who feel so strongly about not voting seem to imagine and think that their 'non vote' should be distinguished in some way from the mere idle and therefore carry more weight.

I'd suggest that rather than simply sitting around & complaining that their (as they see it) 'important' stance is not sufficiently 'recognised' they might give a little thought to the fact that the most effective thing they could do is actually turn out and deface their ballot paper.
That would be a recognisable and effective action others would have to take notice of.

As things stand right now doing nothing & not turning up is not saying very much substantive to anyone at all.

If voting was made compulsory what would happen if a national campaign of refusal to vote encouraged a large number (but similar sized minority) of people not to vote?
Back to square one or a wave of people needlessly criminalised (and costing the rest of us a fortune to pursue, convict and administer fines etc etc) ?

Choosing to not vote does not have to be something negative, people who are basically contented don't take to the barricades.

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 10:33 AM

Originally posted by sminkeypinkeyit sometimes appears as if those who feel so strongly about not voting seem to imagine and think that their 'non vote' should be distinguished in some way from the mere idle and therefore carry more weight.

I think the point is that a conscious abstention says something different to an idle disinterest and says something potentially important and to that extent it SHOULD carry more weight. I recall some years ago driving into our village with my Dad with the aim of going to vote in local elections and then proceeding for a couple of pints of Guinness. In the car we both came to the conclusion that we were uncomfortable with the fact that we were both about to vote in a county council election on party political grounds despite the fact that we both believed that local issues had not been properly addressed by the major parties and that there were no other candidates.

The result was we decided to abstain and head for the pub.

What we were saying was that we cared about politics and about local issues but that the politicians had failed us which is a very different thing to saying "I can't be bothered" and had an abstention box been on the ballot paper we would have both gone in and put a cross in it.

If we care about our democracy I think we do need to understand how many people are genuinely apathetic about the political process and how many care enough to have considered their position and decided to abstain simply because the requirements to address the two issues are different.

The rather more searching question of whether the politicians had failed us or we had failed the political process by not taking personal action to fill the void which we perceived existed was discussed over the Guinness.

[edit on 11-1-2007 by timeless test]

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 11:09 AM
TT I'm not doubting that some people choose not to vote for understandable (even laudable) reasons.

That's a freedom we enjoy and have - and rightly so IMO
(God save us from the kind of horrible state where one has to vote and be seen to be so politically informed because your job, income ,housing, children's education etc etc all depend on being seen to be actively politically motivated and supportive, daily, of *whichever* despot or single party is in power) .

It's just that if all you do is fail to turn out and turn up at the polling station then your motivation can hardly be said to be so great whereas an active move to get out and spoil a ballot paper (in an obvious manner) is a whole different ball-game.

Fundamentally I just don't see what else we could reasonably ask for or do.

I'm just not in favour of a completely avoidable 'new offence' and legal procedure
(Jayzuss wept, can you imagine the howls of the Mail/Telegraph types if Labour introduced compulsory voting!?).

Voting ebbs and flows, but I think so long as a majority turn out and vote then we are not doing so badly.
If we can't get more than half the people to vote then I'd agree we have a problem with legitimacy (although having said that in a free society if people won't vote - or found & organise more attractive political parties to them - then that is their affair).

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 11:52 AM
It's an interesting proposition, but not one I agree with for the reasons Sminkey and Timeless have outlined. Most people who vote do so because they have an idea about what the candidate they're voting for stands for - they make an informed decision based on a number of factors. A lot of people who don't vote simply aren't interested in politics, so how could they make an informed choice? I suppose the 'None of the above' box comes into play at this point, but it's a bit extreme to have compulsory democracy... is that even democratic?
You have a right to vote, but not an obligation.

Also, with regards to the Australian model, whilst there usually is a very good turnout (around the 95% mark for the past couple of elections with regards to the House of Representatives - the lower house, equivalent to the House of Commons) I think the only punishment is a relatively small fine. We may need something stronger than that in this country (since compulsory voting has been around in Australia since 1922... apathy has had a much better chance to set in in the UK).

So how would I solve the problem of declining turn outs? Education. I remember just after my 18th birthday the local council sent an information leaflet through highlighting reasons to vote. There were two cards which, using two different issues (one was about food, the other about something else which I don't remember) showed how your vote affected the food you buy at the supermarket. It is the government who decides on the guidelines for use-by dates, what is meant by 'organic', what chemicals and fertilisers can be used on food and so forth... basically a range of issues that you wouldn't really think about. If this sort of literature were made more widely available and the importance of your vote emphasised (which is part of the problem - I hear people say "Well, I'm not going to vote for Party X because they won't win"... they're not going to win if people think like that, are they?
) then I think turnouts would boost quite a lot.

In schools also it should be shown - in a neutral way - how the British government and electoral system works. This is something that I know was sorely lacking when I was at school, so most kids left not really knowing much about politics. I basically ended up teaching it to myself, reading books, websites and so on because there was no formal classes about it at school. Which is madness, surely... if you want the next generation to appreciate the right to vote, you've got to show them why it was so important. Politicians, too, should get more involved. Local MPs, Cabinet ministers, the Prime Minister, the Leader of the Opposition... all of these people should go into schools far more often without the press being present (we don't want this to become a party political) to tell kids not about their own party but about politics. Other things could be done too - trips to London to tour Parliament, perhaps a visit to one of the government departments to see how it all works. Honestly, there are plenty of ways (both hands-on and theory-wise) to get young people more interested. Parliament as a whole has a duty to see that these methods are taken up.

posted on Jan, 11 2007 @ 07:50 PM

Originally posted by infinite
I could not agree with you more.

Voting should be compulsory in this Country.

As my Dad says "If you don't vote, you can't complain"

isnt that from that advert on TV?

on the issue i think it should be optional or atleast have none of the above
not saying that i dont vote since i regretably vote Labour

posted on Jan, 12 2007 @ 07:35 AM
I believe that there should be a "none of the above" option, but I don't believe it should be compulsory to vote. Voting is a willing subscription to the current governmental system. Many people disagree with that system as a whole, not simply in the choices they are allowed to make within it. They have a right to abstain from validating the system by not using it. I would like to see their numbers quantified some how but again, I respect their right to have nothing to do with a system they object to.

One interesting example would be my parents. As British Nationals living in Spain they have the right to vote in the General election. They choose not to because they believe they forfeited their say when they left the country. I respect their decision and wouldn't want to see them forced to vote in a system they no longer live under.

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