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Compulsory Voting or lowering the voting age?

Thesaurus rex
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If there really are only two choices to vote for then to be that's the sign of a democracy in trouble. If it's a case of "two major parties and the minor ones never get into power then there's no point", that's different. It depends upon the democracy of course, but put it this way, I practice what I preach. Later this year when the General Election rolls round, if one of the three major parties hasn't won me over then I'll vote for a small party out of spite. If there's one thing the past five years have proven (At least in the UK, I won't speak for other democracies) it's that if enough people vote in protest, then it does force the major parties to pay attention. That's how we ended up with a coalition, and that's why Labour and the Conservatives between them are frantically fighting to win back voters unexpectedly pinched by UKIP
 
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Why the assumption that you would wait several hours? In my area there are several places to vote and several voting booths within each places. Why is there the assumption even if there are a lot of people in your area, that it would take several hours? It takes 10 minutes, get your name checked off and vote and that's it. Are just assuming that whoever sets up the whole voting system in your area would be woefully inept? All of these seem to be harsh assumptions.
I've stood in the line waiting for my parents as a teenager before, and it indeed took a couple hours of waiting. There are over 24,000 people living in a six square mile radius of me, and there are 4 or 5 places to vote in town. If I want a smaller wait time I'll have to go out of town to vote, which still isn't very worth my time.
 
Gutes deutsches Bier
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I'm glad we were able to cut out some of the irrelevant material from this discussion, the posts were getting a little bit bulky. I will shorten some of your posts in the interest of space, but please don't think I'm trying to ignore any of your points.

A lot of my post was comparisons between experience on certain issues and how that would relate to voting. That seems to have been completely missed. Maybe I can be a bit more clear this time.
Again, you framed it in such a way that it seemed like a person with no experience would always choose one option, while a person with more experience would always choose another, more correct option. The problem is that you chose issues that have experts on both sides. The question of minimum wage or what to do about police violence does not have a simple yes or no answer that becomes clear with experience, they are complex issues with many variables and possible solutions.


How can you dismiss something on the grounds of it being anecdotal, when it is generally regarded as a widespread thing?
Easily, because they are anecdotes. Anecdotes have never been evidence. If you want to claim that it is a widespread thing, then find me some numbers to prove it. I can easily find anecdotes about highschool students who are all business about politics and are probably more fit to be in office than most of Congress. Why should I take your word that it's "generally regarded as a widespread thing?"

I'd offer statistics, but I can't really find any relating to teenagers views on political issues during my time as a teenager.
Stop right there, this is where it should end.


I would argue that someone who cares to pay their taxes would have an idea of where there money goes. Not exactly where it goes, because not even state budget offices understand where the money goes. But most people understand that roads don't fix themselves, utility lines don't maintain themselves, city workers are paid wages, etc.
Why wouldn't a 16 year old understand this? Do you think 16 year olds think that roads fix themselves? In most states you can drive by 16, they can see potholes and road construction crews.

That's interesting, in my school district they required classes on American government and American political systems. I guess this owes itself to each state and school district being allowed to decide its own curriculum.

I suppose none of this matters, however. It is, after all, an anecdote.
Actually it does matter since you provided me with a link that shows the required curriculum. I wish that they could make room for at least a basic introduction to American political systems class requirement. It would definitely help to create more informed voters regardless of age.


Here we go with another anecdote, but a lot of folks my age (mid 20s) seem to think that cops are magicians and can aim perfectly in split second decisions during time of duress. This is probably due to movies, where the hero always disarms or otherwise incapacitates the bad guy with a quick but well aimed shot. And yes, "why didn't they just shoot to disarm" is incredibly ignorant, but something a lot of people seem hung up on when it comes to guns.

As for why I brought that subject up, it was to compare experience. A lot of misinformed people think their word is law when it comes to gun safety when they don't even know the first thing about firearms.
But in order to know about guns, you need to have experience specifically with guns. A person can go their whole life without ever handling a gun or knowing the first thing about gun safety. A person can also be exposed to guns at an early age if their family is into hunting or something, and be an expert on gun safety at age 12. The problem with your examples, as I have stated, is that they have little to do with age. A person needs to choose to expose herself to gun culture, it's not some knowledge that magically enters your brain when you reach a certain age.

The same can be said of teenagers about political issues; they will generally not understand the consequences. Some kids may be quick to lobby for war because they think it's cool, while others will be hesitant to despite a clear attack on the nation's interests, because they may think that every problem can be solved peacefully.
Perfect, then they will cancel each other out and there will be no problem.

Care to show me numbers that suggest there are enough young people that care, and wouldn't take the opportunity to try to vote in the most damaging of radical ideologies? I mean, I don't have any numbers, but do you? I'd be interested to see them.
No I don't care to show you numbers, because I didn't claim that I have numbers. You are making the claim, the burden is on you to provide evidence that you are right.
 
Goddess
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And interesting point that people bring up about the lack of 'Political Knowledge'. That there is an assumption that young people don't know, don't care and that a compulsory vote for them would be useless.

One can easily state that if you have to vote, the more political awareness you have because the vote matters especially since you have to do it. Then one can say that Political parties will pay more attention to the younger voters. We all as young people complain that the Government doesn't listen to us. So why would we assume that young people and having a compulsory vote for them would be hindering society?

Plus those who generally turn out are seen as people from better backgrounds and non disadvantaged groups. So you are diminishing their voice by not having a compulsory vote otherwise these people don't turn out.

A lot of us have made comments about uninformed voters which I have to say does border on elitism. What's to say that people think of us as uninformed. We may not have the knowledge that others do or even better yet the same view as them. To paint people like that is very unfair.

Another point that was made earlier was the rise of radicalism with younger voters. However wouldn't you say that there is a better chance of that happening with voluntary voting? Since the people that want to vote are either far left or far right? Or parties that are cashed up? These people would be bothered the vote while other people go about their daily lives at home on the weekend.
 
Team Rocket Executive
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The point regarding balancing out radical votes by forcing the entire population to vote is valid, though I do not believe it balances out the negatives (e.g. more of the votes will come from people who don't care either way, wasting uninterested peoples' time, etc.)

Wouldn't support lowering it below 18, either, for many of the reasons already mentioned.
Not only that, most people under 18 have only gone to school in their lives. They've never lived by themselves, never dealt with taxes or health care or other 'adult' issues. If a party would propose to close all schools, I know the majority of people I've known when they were under 18 would totally vote for that party, cause 'school sucks' is one of their only issues in life at that point.
Made a good point and made me LOL at the same time. xd

On that point, it would actually make more sense to increase the voting age. Besides what's already been mentioned regarding this, it seems that kids take longer to mature now. Perhaps it's to do with post-secondary education being increasingly important (and hence kids are sheltered longer before being thrown into the real world) or perhaps it just has to do with how demographics played out over the past couple decades with the baby boomer generation and all the related effects.

Interestingly, 21 was the standard minimum voting age before WW2. Perhaps it was lowered to 18 because of the whole "if we can draft you to war at 18, we could also let you vote" sentiment.

In the end, it won't matter either way, particularly in countries where money plays a strong part in politics. In the US, for example, it's been scientifically shown that voter sentiment has no impact on government policies. Voting is purely symbolic in such countries. I suppose bringing in young voters into the mix would have a negative impact when it comes to this point in countries where the situation isn't as bad as in the US.

(I don't believe money having influence in politics is a bad thing, but that could be a topic of its own.)
 
Thesaurus rex
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And interesting point that people bring up about the lack of 'Political Knowledge'. That there is an assumption that young people don't know, don't care and that a compulsory vote for them would be useless.

One can easily state that if you have to vote, the more political awareness you have because the vote matters especially since you have to do it. Then one can say that Political parties will pay more attention to the younger voters. We all as young people complain that the Government doesn't listen to us. So why would we assume that young people and having a compulsory vote for them would be hindering society?

Plus those who generally turn out are seen as people from better backgrounds and non disadvantaged groups. So you are diminishing their voice by not having a compulsory vote otherwise these people don't turn out.

A lot of us have made comments about uninformed voters which I have to say does border on elitism. What's to say that people think of us as uninformed. We may not have the knowledge that others do or even better yet the same view as them. To paint people like that is very unfair.

Another point that was made earlier was the rise of radicalism with younger voters. However wouldn't you say that there is a better chance of that happening with voluntary voting? Since the people that want to vote are either far left or far right? Or parties that are cashed up? These people would be bothered the vote while other people go about their daily lives at home on the weekend.
You may be right that introducing compulsory voting my compel people to take enough of an interest to vote sensibly, but it may just as easily result in people throwing down any old vote just to get out of there quickly. It's not by any means a certainty that being forced to vote will make you politically aware. I might as well say that by "politically aware" I mean knowing who the major parties are and their general policies.

I think the issues around youth turnout go deeper than merely most teenagers not having a vote. Here in the UK it's a common complaint in the younger people of voting age that the Government never listens (And as I outlined earlier, it becomes a self-fulfilling lament because those people don't vote).

Regarding radical voting, that does depend on where you are, which is something that's getting forgotten in this discussion. No two democracies have the same voting culture - you don't get the same kind of tribalism in UK politics as you do in the US, for example.
 
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If the end goal of compulsory voting is to create a nation that is more politically aware, wouldn't a better solution simply be to require students take a course in Government to graduate high school? It already is required for graduation in some places.
 
Goddess
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If the end goal of compulsory voting is to create a nation that is more politically aware, wouldn't a better solution simply be to require students take a course in Government to graduate high school? It already is required for graduation in some places.
How can that give people their own thoughts. A government course will have its own agenda depending on the bias. So naturally it is not the best method of being politically aware say reading, listening, watching and talking to others.
 
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If the end goal of compulsory voting is to create a nation that is more politically aware, wouldn't a better solution simply be to require students take a course in Government to graduate high school? It already is required for graduation in some places.
How can that give people their own thoughts. A government course will have its own agenda depending on the bias. So naturally it is not the best method of being politically aware say reading, listening, watching and talking to others.
The class I took presented no bias and merely explained how the political system in America operated. We were taught about political bias and how both parties skew things for their own agenda. I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by a course in Government.
 
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If the end goal of compulsory voting is to create a nation that is more politically aware, wouldn't a better solution simply be to require students take a course in Government to graduate high school? It already is required for graduation in some places.
How can that give people their own thoughts. A government course will have its own agenda depending on the bias. So naturally it is not the best method of being politically aware say reading, listening, watching and talking to others.
The class I took presented no bias and merely explained how the political system in America operated. We were taught about political bias and how both parties skew things for their own agenda. I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by a course in Government.
How is that more politically aware? That just means you know how the system works rather than being politically aware.
 
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If the end goal of compulsory voting is to create a nation that is more politically aware, wouldn't a better solution simply be to require students take a course in Government to graduate high school? It already is required for graduation in some places.
How can that give people their own thoughts. A government course will have its own agenda depending on the bias. So naturally it is not the best method of being politically aware say reading, listening, watching and talking to others.
The class I took presented no bias and merely explained how the political system in America operated. We were taught about political bias and how both parties skew things for their own agenda. I think you are misunderstanding what I mean by a course in Government.
How is that more politically aware? That just means you know how the system works rather than being politically aware.
Being aware of how the political system works is the definition of politically aware.

Forming opinions is a personal matter - any educational solution that goes beyond explaining how the system functions is going to be open to biases.
 
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Why can't we have both? I became politically aware at 15, I'm still incredibly interested in Politics now. Why should 16 year old me not be allowed a vote, but a 25 year old who couldn't care less who wins is allowed a vote? I believe you should gain all rights at 16.

In the same breath I believe compulsory voting should be a thing, it costs money to to put on an election, and it's your civic duty I feel to vote. We all have to do jury duty when we're called up for it, in some countries you are even required to do military service (I don't agree with that) but if the taxpayer is forking out millions so you can have your right to have a say, then you should go and cast your vote. People die in wars fighting for freedom and the right to vote, it's a dishonour to all those who have died to then not cast your vote. Even if you don't like any of the candidates, just pick the least worst, or write none of the above.
 
Thesaurus rex
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Why can't we have both? I became politically aware at 15, I'm still incredibly interested in Politics now. Why should 16 year old me not be allowed a vote, but a 25 year old who couldn't care less who wins is allowed a vote? I believe you should gain all rights at 16.

In the same breath I believe compulsory voting should be a thing, it costs money to to put on an election, and it's your civic duty I feel to vote. We all have to do jury duty when we're called up for it, in some countries you are even required to do military service (I don't agree with that) but if the taxpayer is forking out millions so you can have your right to have a say, then you should go and cast your vote. People die in wars fighting for freedom and the right to vote, it's a dishonour to all those who have died to then not cast your vote. Even if you don't like any of the candidates, just pick the least worst, or write none of the above.
Being politically aware should not in itself be enough justification for having a vote. Would you allow a twelve year old to vote just because they take an interest in politics? There has to be a cut off at which point we declare that someone becomes and adult, old enough to have the rights of an adult and also taking the consequences of actions as an adult. Now I believe that age should be at 18, and should encompass everything - voting, military service, criminal sentences etc etc.

After having thought about it, it now occurs to me that the freedom to vote is no true freedom unless it also entails the freedom not to vote. True, I don't believe that abstaining accomplishes anything useful, but I can think of no good reason why my opinion should be considered important enough to force other people to adhere to it
 
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Knowing how the system works is kind of a basic requirement of being "politically aware" in a remotely useful way.


Came across this today and it reminded me of this thread.
 
Ey b0ss
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We were talking about this in my politics A level class today. Last year I was all for it, now that I have been educated, I am against compulsory voting.

We live in a democracy and forcing people to do something they don't want is not democratic. I had a argument/debate with a friend who is passionate about compulsory voting and she got mad at my friend, who is an Anarchist, for not voting and said she should still go out and just spoil the ballot.

No, that is a waste of time and not turning up to vote shows a lot (lets look at Congress' voting turn-out rate and approval rate). If someone is not interested in politics they shouldn't vote if they don't want to because the party that gets in will not have much legitimacy.

If people hate the parties do not make them 'vote for the lesser evil' as you are still forcing them to partake in something they don't want to do.

As for lowering the voting age... meh? I don't really care if it is lowered or not as 18 is a pretty decent age. Might be more democratic if 16 year olds can vote as they have to pay tax.
 
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Compulsory voting defeats the idea of a democracy imo. Not everyone would want to vote on a particular thing and forcing them to do so doesn't feel right to me. People should be allowed choose if they want to vote. The people that want to vote will vote. The people that do not want to vote will not vote, especially if what they're voting on is unclear. Although I do think that for elections and referendums, there must be at least a 50% voter turnout for the results of an election or a referendum to be declared valid. It doesn't really reflect the general opinion of the majority of the population if less than half the eligible voters do actually vote.

I think the voting age should be lowered to 16 as itt would help more young people get involved in the general politics of a country and can be beneficial for a particular party or politician. Also the 16-18 age group are the future of a country and would freshen up politics in most countries imo.
 

H2O

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We live in a democracy and forcing people to do something they don't want is not democratic.
That's a fundamentally flawed idea as it would make all laws undemocratic. How dare the government say i can't drive at 100MPH on a motorway!

Democracy is just about imposing the will of the majority. It's not some holy grail of political virtue.

No, that is a waste of time and not turning up to vote shows a lot
It shows a lot less than if all those same people turned up and marked their ballot with "none of the above".

Although I do think that for elections and referendums, there must be at least a 50% voter turnout for the results of an election or a referendum to be declared valid.
I actually think it should be higher than that for referendums. A change should require 50% of eligible voters to actually vote for it, not just turn up.

Here in Wales we had a referendum on having a regional assembly in 1979. It required a minimum 50% turn out with at least 40% of eligible voters saying yes and was rejected by a 4:1 majority.

Fast forward to 1997 and we got the same thing again with a much lower pass bar. It was voted in by 50.3% to 49.7% with only 50.1% turnout. So only a quarter of the population wanted it and given the recent history it could easily be argued (although not proven) that many of the people who didn't vote did so because they 'knew' it would fail based on the previous result. None of that feels very democratic to me and personally i feel the assembly has been a disaster for Wales.
 
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That's a fundamentally flawed idea as it would make all laws undemocratic. How dare the government say i can't drive at 100MPH on a motorway!
...Except not voting does not impede the safety or freedom of others.
 
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Although I do think that for elections and referendums, there must be at least a 50% voter turnout for the results of an election or a referendum to be declared valid.
I actually think it should be higher than that for referendums. A change should require 50% of eligible voters to actually vote for it, not just turn up.

Here in Wales we had a referendum on having a regional assembly in 1979. It required a minimum 50% turn out with at least 40% of eligible voters saying yes and was rejected by a 4:1 majority.

Fast forward to 1997 and we got the same thing again with a much lower pass bar. It was voted in by 50.3% to 49.7% with only 50.1% turnout. So only a quarter of the population wanted it and given the recent history it could easily be argued (although not proven) that many of the people who didn't vote did so because they 'knew' it would fail based on the previous result. None of that feels very democratic to me and personally i feel the assembly has been a disaster for Wales.
Actually yeah, a 50% majority of voters would make much more sense. That situation has happened twice here in recent years.
The first referendum was passed with a 33.5% voter turnout and 58% of them voting for it. The second referendum was rejected with a 39.17% turnout and 51.73% of that amount voting against it. I fail to understand how it is even valid when it's that low.
 

H2O

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That's a fundamentally flawed idea as it would make all laws undemocratic. How dare the government say i can't drive at 100MPH on a motorway!
...Except not voting does not impede the safety or freedom of others.
Given some of the long term implications of election results that could be disputed. If a vote is won by radicals because those happy with the status quo didn't turn up then things could go very badly indeed.

Also, neither does speeding cause harm in many cases, yet it is always illigal. Most accidents on the road are not primarily caused by speed but by a lack/ lapse of attention. But i take your point.

The reality is that every law is a restriction of freedom for the greater good as decided by the elected representatives of the voting public. That does not automatically make any law moral or right no matter the system of governance.
 
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