Sometimes I catch hell from friends or colleagues for my occasional but deliberate choice to abstain from voting. Their admonitions take the form of a variation on the theme of it being my civic duty to vote: as a political theorist I should know better; men and women fought and died so that I could; those who don’t vote shouldn’t complain, and I complain a lot, so I should show up or clam up. These arguments are easily enough dismissed. When I choose not to vote I have reasons. Often the candidates are weak, but there’s no option to decline my ballot. Sometimes the parties are senseless and none deserves my vote. Other times the outcome of the race has been pre-determined by demographic facts well beyond my control. Always the atrocious and severely-dated first-past-the-post system does a poor job of translating votes into seats. Every few years the idea of compulsory voting — a system in which electors are required by law to cast their ballot and in which those who do not are, strictly speaking, subject to fines or criminal charges or even jail time — creeps into our political discourse. Nearly two-dozen countries have mandatory voting laws on the books, although not all of them enforce the law.Full Article: Compulsory voting is counter-productive.
Apr 15 2014