Friday, September 14, 2007

Compulsory voting

Interesting to hear that compulsory voting at elections was the most popular measure to bring more democracy to Britain, according to a poll held at last week's Fabian Democracy Day.

The term 'compulsory voting' is a bit of a misnomer, it really is about compulsory casting of ballots (pedantic I know but important nonetheless).

I am quite attracted by the idea, mainly because:

1. It can help improve turnout

2. It leaves parties free to campaign on policies, rather than focusing huge efforts on 'getting out the vote'. It can also reduce the impact of better finance campaigns and reduce the incidents of negative campaigning.

3. It can help create/enhance a sense of community, as everyone is in it together. It is also a means of reducing social exclusion where those that don't vote end up without any policies geared towards them.

I know that there are many reasons why we shouldn't make voting compulsory but I do think we need to have the debate nationally, indeed can we afford not to?

What do you think?


Denise G said...

Can't agree, Mike.

Our freedoms are eroded almost daily, to be replaced with "rights" (quite a different concept, as I'm sure you'll agree).

I really rather treasure my freedom not to vote (or to go along to a polling station to tick an "abstain" option, as some have suggested).

Democracy is a two-way thing. It's up to the political parties to re-connect with the people. Compulsory voting won't do that, nor will it rebuild atrophied party machines or wrest them away from the cliques which control them - far more likely it would institutionalise the arrangement.

Let's not forget that the parties exist on our backs, not we on theirs, and that they have knowingly distanced themselves from large swathes of the electorate.

The onus is on them, not us.

Commissar said...

Generally speaking it is the poorest, most deprived sections of society which are least likely to vote.

Anything that increases their participation at the ballot box, even if it is by means of the stick rather than the carrot, will force politicians to take more notice of them and their needs. Which would certainly be no bad thing

JRD168 said...

I'm with the Commissar on this one, anything that makes politicians take notice of the needy can only be a good thing.

el Tom said...

Well in favour Mike.