Should voting in LEs and GEs be compulsory

Disillusioned democrat

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I was reading an article the other week about the Euro and Local elections, specifically about voter turnout and entire swathes of society that didn't engage at all.

We often wonder why we keep returning to the same old politics, over and over again and I'm beginning to believe it's down to voter management rather than policies.

A sure cure for this would be making voting compulsory as they do in many countries already:


Low turnout and pockets of concentrated party allegiances is distorting the actual democratic process - if I were one of the rag tag collection of small parties in Ireland I'd start agitating collectively for a law to make voting compulsory. The "democrats" would struggle to argue against it and the general public should in theory welcome it.
 


Kevin Parlon

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Generally I'm not in favor of state coercion, but I make an exception on this. Voting should be compulsory. It is in Australia.
 

locke

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The problem is that people can have real reasons for not voting. I almost always vote, but missed a referendum when my son was in intensive care in Crumlin.

Even for the more flippant reasons, like people going on holiday, we can get General Elections at the last minute, when people have booked months in advance. Any fines risk becoming a randomly-allocated holiday tax.

Any attempt at mandatory voting would have to be accompanied by a means of making it easier to vote, whether by allowing early voting at a county hall before the official polling day or by postal or electronic voting (not personally in favour due to concerns over privacy of the ballot, but it may be the lesser of two evils in the circumstance).
 

Baron von Biffo

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The Electoral Register being largely a work of fantasy would make such a law pointless.

Even if we fixed the register and put the law on the books, this being Ireland it wouldn't be enforced.

Even if it was enforced it could only require people to turn up and put a ballot in the box. It couldn't ensure that they voted rather than spoil the paper or leave it blank.
 

RelentlessApathy!

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Even if it was enforced it could only require people to turn up and put a ballot in the box. It couldn't ensure that they voted rather than spoil the paper or leave it blank.
But that's not a problem in this context, black/spoiled votes carry their own information as opposed to having none when people don't vote.

You're right, fix the register, streamline the process, and then add the non-voting fine. It'll solve turnout, and make people choose for themselves rather than moan about politicians they never voted for.

Really sick and tired of Irish people blaming everyone but themselves for the state of the politicians they elect.
 

razorblade

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With the right to vote comes the right not to while ideally everyone should vote there may be logical reasons why many others dont disillusionment of the whole thing being a major factor many are genuinely fed up of the current political situation that they are either voting for alternatives or choosing to not participate entirely indeed the lack of alternative choices to the current political establishment is most likely why those people are choosing to stay away in the first place they simply have no one credible to vote for and they have decided to not to do so because of it which is quite understandable really.
 

Baron von Biffo

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But that's not a problem in this context, black/spoiled votes carry their own information as opposed to having none when people don't vote.
What information was carried in the 'Mayo for Sam' spoiled vote beyond the fact that we don't have a minimum IQ requirement for voting?

What about the thousands of blank EU papers? Any meaning attached to them would say more about the interpreter than those who didn't bother to express any preference.

You're right, fix the register, streamline the process, and then add the non-voting fine. It'll solve turnout, and make people choose for themselves rather than moan about politicians they never voted for.

Really sick and tired of Irish people blaming everyone but themselves for the state of the politicians they elect.
Turnout in the EU elections was I think, around 50%. To enforce a non voting fine would mean gardaí knocking on the doors of almost half the adults in the state.

Now you might argue that the mere possibility of a fine would see that turnout figure rise and you'd be right. I suspect though that it wouldn't rise significantly and the increase would come in the main from people who might otherwise vote but didn't see that election (and the woeful selection of candidates) as worth the effort.

The likes of Anto and KayLee whose only interest in the state is on dole and child benefit days wouldn't be remotely concerned about the risk of a fine. It would just be a case of adding it to the pile of others that will never be paid.

The reality is that this is Ireland. We don't even enforce rules of the road that could save lives so why would we devote resources to enforcing a mandatory voting law?
 

RelentlessApathy!

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What information was carried in the 'Mayo for Sam' spoiled vote beyond the fact that we don't have a minimum IQ requirement for voting?

What about the thousands of blank EU papers? Any meaning attached to them would say more about the interpreter than those who didn't bother to express any preference.
At a minimum it identifies deficiencies of voter knowledge about EU elections and how it works. Not that we don't know the state has a civics deficit, but it would be far harder for the the government of the day to ignore it if turnout numbers were high. Also spoiled votes give fair indication to voter disenfranchisement and are internationally accepted as being a fair indicator for where a country might be in trouble.

Information enough for me regardless of how it's interpreted.

Turnout in the EU elections was I think, around 50%. To enforce a non voting fine would mean gardaí knocking on the doors of almost half the adults in the state.

Now you might argue that the mere possibility of a fine would see that turnout figure rise and you'd be right. I suspect though that it wouldn't rise significantly and the increase would come in the main from people who might otherwise vote but didn't see that election (and the woeful selection of candidates) as worth the effort.

The likes of Anto and KayLee whose only interest in the state is on dole and child benefit days wouldn't be remotely concerned about the risk of a fine. It would just be a case of adding it to the pile of others that will never be paid.

The reality is that this is Ireland. We don't even enforce rules of the road that could save lives so why would we devote resources to enforcing a mandatory voting law?
You're kind of contradicting yourself, on one hand you're saying that the Gardai will be enforcing the fine, on the other hand you're saying that it will just be another unenforceable fine. We both should know that a fine could be deductible through SW payments or regular fines for people who are working.

Also, the "Anto and KayLee" example is a piss poor analogy...we legislate for the majority of society, not some miserable portion of the population that is very much a minority.

A fine is a very simple proposition, get off your hole and save yourself 50 Euro...or don't and give the state 50 Euro. There's no need to complicate it otherwise.
 

Degeneration X

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I was reading an article the other week about the Euro and Local elections, specifically about voter turnout and entire swathes of society that didn't engage at all.

We often wonder why we keep returning to the same old politics, over and over again and I'm beginning to believe it's down to voter management rather than policies.

A sure cure for this would be making voting compulsory as they do in many countries already:


Low turnout and pockets of concentrated party allegiances is distorting the actual democratic process - if I were one of the rag tag collection of small parties in Ireland I'd start agitating collectively for a law to make voting compulsory. The "democrats" would struggle to argue against it and the general public should in theory welcome it.
I think we'd need huge changes to our postal voting system to make it feasible - I wonder also would there be huge queues at the polling booths if it were universal and compulsory?
 

livingstone

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I used to be of the view that compulsory voting is an unjustified incursion into people's freedom to decide not to vote. But increasingly I've seen the distorting effect that has in how political representatives act - whether that's shaping the policies they prioritise (e.g. issues affecting older people being seen as sacrosanct, but issues like housing being treated as far lower priority than it should be), or actively in shaping attempts at voter suppression we see in the US.

And fundamentally, there can be no argument, I think, that higher turnout means a better and more representative form of democracy. And if it's legitimate to require someone to give up weeks of their life in jury service because we all have an obligation to further a purer system of justice, then I see no reason we can't legitimately ask people to give up some of their time to cast a vote in pursuance of a purer form of democracy.

As has been noted above though - there needs to be changes for it to work. First, the register needs massive reform. Second, it needs to be much easier to vote - everyone should be able to vote by post if they wish. We cannot have a scenario where someone in a rural area gets fined because they had no transport and didn't fancy a four mile walk to the polling station in the rain. There should be some legitimate grounds to appeal any fine, such as illness of the voter or close family members. But in principle, I see no reason not to introduce compulsory voting with those changes.
 

livingstone

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I think we'd need huge changes to our postal voting system to make it feasible - I wonder also would there be huge queues at the polling booths if it were universal and compulsory?
I never waited more than about ten minutes to vote in Ireland - and most times I walked in, got my paper and voted in about two minutes. As you say, we need to greatly increase availability to postal voting, so not all extra voters will be in person voters at polling stations. There might be some increase in queues but I can't see them being excessive.
 

brughahaha

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Why should you be forced to Vote if there is nobody espousing policies you agree with ?

Why should you be forced tp vote if you believe Irish MEPs make not 1 jot of difference to EU policy ? (11 out of 705) - (and your vote will be taken as evidence of support for the EU)

Why should you be forced to vote for counciillors that have no powers

Why should you be forced to vote for people to earn € 500,000 a year while thousands wait on Trollies in Hospitals

I didnt vote and have no intention of voting in the GE ....and you want to fine me for holding those beliefs ?
 

RelentlessApathy!

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Why should you be forced to Vote if there is nobody espousing policies you agree with ?

Why should you be forced tp vote if you believe Irish MEPs make not 1 jot of difference to EU policy ? (11 out of 705) - (and your vote will be taken as evidence of support for the EU)

Why should you be forced to vote for counciillors that have no powers

Why should you be forced to vote for people to earn € 500,000 a year while thousands wait on Trollies in Hospitals

I didnt vote and have no intention of voting in the GE ....and you want to fine me for holding those beliefs ?
Have no desire to fine you, but you could just as easily have written the above on a ballot paper instead of a website only weirdos and kooks hang out on. You might even get your scrawl in a newspaper for your efforts.
 

Round tower

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Why should you be forced to Vote if there is nobody espousing policies you agree with ?

Why should you be forced tp vote if you believe Irish MEPs make not 1 jot of difference to EU policy ? (11 out of 705) - (and your vote will be taken as evidence of support for the EU)

Why should you be forced to vote for counciillors that have no powers

Why should you be forced to vote for people to earn € 500,000 a year while thousands wait on Trollies in Hospitals

I didnt vote and have no intention of voting in the GE ....and you want to fine me for holding those beliefs ?
Where u believe in that u spoil the vote,
people who don't vote can have no complaints about the politicions that the people have voted in
 

Disillusioned democrat

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People who don't vote double the value of the vote of those who do. Hard to complain about shit politicians when by staying at home you give their voters twice the voting power.
Therein lies the problem - the established parties can mobilize a base vote from those with a vested interest and the impact of those votes is effectively double what it should be, largely drowning our the “policy” driven voters who want to vote for the people with capability and integrity - the big parties will ALWAY win elections due to the apathy of the citizens and funnily enough I’ve never heard the topic of compulsory voting ever discussed in the Dail, despite us looking to Australia for many good examples of democracy.
 


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