ON AIR: Should you be forced to vote?

The team is on it’s way to Dublin for tonight’s programme… 

TN2020 participant Gabriella Kessler from New York suggested we talk about compulsory voting today.

Australia already makes voting compulsory, but is this the best way to get people to engage with democracy?

This American columnist thinks it should be considered for the US election.  This blog disagrees. And plenty of people commenting below think democracy means the freedom NOT to vote.

Voting is compulsory in many other countries like Argentina, Singapore and Switzerland. Enforcement varies, as do punishments (could be a fine or possibly prison, although there are no documented cases of this anywhere).  A participant of TN2020 told us about Cyprus, where there was a lot of enthusiasm initially, but now people aren’t so sure it works.

Some countries like Russia and Zimbabwe technically do not have to vote, but voters are under pressure to turn out anyway. And iwhats the point of hight turnout in rigged election?

Is voting a right or a privilege? Should it be made compulsory?

280 Responses to “ON AIR: Should you be forced to vote?”

  1. 1 Vijay
    September 29, 2008 at 10:44

    Not voting is also a political satement,it could indicate antipathy towards a political process or issue, even a degree of satisfaction.
    In India poor people vote ,rich people don’t,the poor have more at stake than the rich eg .in New Delhi the wealthest areas may record only 25% turnout the poorest areas 80%.

  2. 2 ZK
    September 29, 2008 at 11:32

    I live in a country (Singapore) in which it is compulsory to vote, but why should we? I would be worried if the US forced its citizens to vote. People who are forced to vote but would have had no intention to may easily just waste their vote anyway. Even worse, if the people forced to vote have no idea who they’re voting for and decide to randomly tick a box, we could end up with unsavoury surprises.

  3. 3 Robert
    September 29, 2008 at 11:55

    Before forcing people to vote the state must make it easier to vote. Many now work long hours and commute long distances daily. The restrictions (both locations and times) imposed by the polling stations make it impossible for some.

  4. 4 Robert
    September 29, 2008 at 12:01


    Not voting is also a political satement .

    This is not a problem even if you are forced to vote, you can simply spoil the ballot. When not forced to vote spoiled ballots say even more then missing the ballot. By missing the ballot you say that you don’t care enough to bother. By spoiling your ballot you’ve put the effort into making your point, and that carries more weight behind it.

  5. 5 Angela in Washington
    September 29, 2008 at 12:18

    I don’t think people should be forced to vote but I think it is unfortunate that some people refuse to vote. If you live in a nation where you can vote, it is ridiculous not to vote. Some people have a choice to vote and others cannot vote at all. I personally think that people should get more involved in politics because that is when change occurs but if you don’t even have a voice, you have not right to complain. I don’t agree with all of our administration’s actions but I didn’t vote for them. Additionally, I realize voting makes a difference but some people don’t care, which is one thing I love about this country- we have freedoms we don’t have to do anything.

  6. 6 Nofal Elias
    September 29, 2008 at 12:56

    No No No , you can force people to vote unless you add another option to indicates none of the above box.

    If I disagree with any of the candidates on the list, how can I vote for any of them.
    If that option box is added, maybe it will win .

  7. 7 Nofal Elias
    September 29, 2008 at 13:00

    I meant you Can’t force people to vote and not you can

  8. 8 Kelsie in Houston
    September 29, 2008 at 13:22

    The decision to refrain from voting is in itself a political expression–and thus protected by most freedom of speech/expression laws.

  9. September 29, 2008 at 14:10

    Bryan, Bryan, oh Bryan and the Righties. You call us Lefties in your so succinct analysis of everything we subscribe and aspire to in your SO OPEN EYES and REAL UNDERSTANDING of the world, that others and in your view, us the plain naive, just can’t see it. And we need to be re-educated into your rigid belief system, so as we understand the world better. It’s ok, because the world is just really BLACK & WHITE, and you’re RIGHT and we’re WRONG. Everything’s so simple. Life’s a CAKEWALK. Now, if I’m not much mistaken, that description and analogy has been used to great effect by the American military!

    All I can see is denial, denial and more denial. Where is your cogent argument and counter points on all the issues I’ve raised so far?
    It isn’t always a straightforward categorisation of a left or right stance by the media in general.
    If you are trying to transmit to an audience the everyday realities of your life and daily existence, whilst under occupation by a foreign force, could one just not be trying to convey to people the truth and harsh reality of any given situation to an unsuspecting world? Where’s the harm in that? It’s when for some ulterior motive that certain decision makers take it upon themselves to deny you and me an access and balance of information, then questions should be posed, surely? If the USA has nothing to hide in these instances, then why the very quick and snap judgements in response to the slightest criticism made of there actions be it in Iraq, Afghanistan or other regions where you’ve intervened on such a HUMANITARIAN/POLITICALLY ASTUTE & JUDGED basis. I would say these are incredibly valid reasons for those who have a conscience and wish to vote on such issues, then should take up their inalienable and democratic right to do so.

  10. 10 Count Iblis
    September 29, 2008 at 14:18

    The government has no right whatsoever to force me to turn up for a vote. If my country were ever to pass a law that made voting compulsory, I would deliberately stay at home and violate such a ridiculous law.

    If I were then fined for this, I would refuse to pay the fine. I would be 100% sure that when this dispute escalated and I would have to defend myself in court, I would win the case, because no judge would sent me to jail for refusing to vote.

  11. 11 steve
    September 29, 2008 at 14:22

    @ Count Iblis

    I would probably go and write in a candidate, “F You” but spell out the word. But with your strategy, you could wind up with bad credit for a political point. That would be quite weird.

  12. 12 Jennifer
    September 29, 2008 at 14:43

    Voting is a right.

    I think people should vote. When they don’t, we are not represented as fully as we could be. I think Australia could be on to something. People are not going to agree with everything a politician stands for but people should vote anyway.

  13. 13 YNorm
    September 29, 2008 at 14:54

    If forcing people to vote could be acceptable, then why at all should we bother about democracy? Maybe we should simply embrace dictatorship, because it’s basically about FORCING people.

  14. 14 Count Iblis
    September 29, 2008 at 15:25

    Steve, I would not turn up to vote and then make my vote invalid, because then I would already have compromized by turning up for the vote.

    I would expect that there would be hundreds of thousands of people who would deliberately not turn up for the vote and then the judicial system cannot be used to deal with that issue anymore.

  15. 15 1430a
    September 29, 2008 at 15:34

    hello everyone,
    Well i guess we have got a lot of interesting topics to talk about today.

    To the question:
    ‘Should you be forced to vote?’
    Yes, of course.There are many people(especially in most part of Asia and Africa) who are not aware of the elections .Usually they don’t even know what is ‘Voting’.So it will obviously not be fair on their side and by making it compulsory even the uneducated ones will have a chance to choose their leader.In a democratic system everyone should be given the opportunity to select what they thing is correct.

    Thank you

  16. September 29, 2008 at 16:20

    I do not think that voting should be forced on people, but I do think that election day should be a national holiday and that access to polling stations should be made much, much better. I think that more should be done to eliminate campaigns of fake phone calls (“your polling station has been moved to a far corner of your district” or “all Democrats vote on Wednesday”). We need non-partisan poll workers. We need international election monitors. We need an election system that is not third world.

  17. September 29, 2008 at 16:21

    And I want a return of the paper ballot. These people need to get a clue already.

  18. September 29, 2008 at 16:35

    Let me state quite openly I agree, without default, voting should be made mandatory.


    The day of an election should be, as said above, a national day off work, a weekend, or some other compensation for the electorate. Postal ballots should be offered to all the electorate to vote early.

    Hell, if we could find a secure way of voting online then that should be made available, too.

    Too many of our ancestors, men, especially women, and children have given their lives for the freedom to elect who we see fit into office – it is not a right or a privilege – it is a duty upon all.

    If you have an objection at having to vote – spoil the ballot or write in what you feel, that is one thing that should be incorporated on the ballot sheet.

  19. 19 steve
    September 29, 2008 at 16:38

    This could also be a free speech issue. Voting is basically a form of speech, and part of the freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak.

  20. 20 Roberto
    September 29, 2008 at 16:44

    RE Gabriella Kessler:

    ——- Ms Kessler should be forced to eat gruel and live in a cardboard box for 5 years as compensation for her work.

    Then and only then should she be granted the right to vote, but only the right to vote for whom I tell her to vote for.

    Now, what should Ms Kessler be required to wear when she is fulfilling her voting mandatories?

  21. September 29, 2008 at 17:29

    Poor people have always been forced to vote. They vote with there feet. Whether due to gentrification or economic pressure to leave there homeland or fleeing violence and oppression, they pack everything in a bedsheet and quietly go.

    In a presidential election there isn’t any choice for me, the candidates don’t represent any of my interests, they certainly aren’t going to lead me. Hillary and this Palin broad are the only ones with any cojones. I’m going to stick with the majority and not even bother. All the election rah rahs want to man up about voting, but the day after the election they are on to the next holy cause that holds up their limp personal banner. Like most people who don’t vote, I have more important things to do with my life than sitting around jawjacking about what this stuffed shirt or that stuffed shirt is going to do to save the world. They are going to tax you more, they are going to erode your personal liberty, they are going create an even larger federal government that owes an even greater amount of money, and they are going to do it with impunity. All the honchos going on about getting out the vote are going to assume the position and bleat , Thank you Sir, can I have another? Such a smal price to belong.

    Why do I think that the idea to make anything mandatory for an American, came out of Europe? Had I been forced to vote in the last two elections I would have picked Bush. Somewhere out on the horizon is a time when the American consumer will realize that economic power trumps military action every time. You vote with your wallet, which is why those scumbags are always trying to get their fingers in yours.

  22. 22 Kofi Quansah
    September 29, 2008 at 17:30

    I am not a freshman in a secondary school to be told what to do during elections by seniors. They might as well tell us who to vote for.

    Forcing people to vote simply negates the very essence of an individual’s right to choose who he wants to be his leader. – Because then, he is denied that same right to choose not to elect any of those presented on the ballot paper.

  23. 23 Jessica in NYC
    September 29, 2008 at 17:31

    In a democracy the right to vote in an inalienable right that is absolute. If the freedoms of a democracy hold evident, one cannot be prevailed upon to vote for a politician that is not representative of his/her constituents beliefs, when there is no other choice. A true democracy cannot be threaten by political descent and thus must hold it’s most valued right to freedom of speech, which includes the right not to vote.

    I would love it if everyone voted, but would never support a government that threaten the expression of free speech by mandating voting for all it’s people.

  24. 24 Jens
    September 29, 2008 at 18:13

    well i think everyone SHOULD vote.

    of course we should force people to vote, you palin staning with a gun held to your forhead, demanding to vote for her ticket. what an appealing thought

  25. September 29, 2008 at 20:04

    On second thought, I think people should be forced to vote because I have come to realize that those who don’t vote hardly ever participate in nation building as they spend all their time complaining about how incompetent leaders are…

  26. September 29, 2008 at 22:15

    Voting should not be compulsory nor should it be universal. When it is compulsory, it is no longer people exercising self-determination and liberty. When it is universal, it is no longer people behaving responsibly and fairly. For within both issues regarding voting, I find it interesting humans expect governmental protocols to be of a certain mysterious kind, and yet our private clubs, church and organizations function quite differently. Among the latter (privately), do we force people to vote, and do we allow non-contributors to vote. We do not. I suggest the latter is so for there we align more closely to “natural law” for there is nothing or little to be gained but fairness (or justice). While in a central government the pot of gold is tremendous, thus an incentive to legalize thievery of every sort through perverted laws. Still I continue to reiterate, it is “natural law” where liberty and justice reside. I contend history demonstrates connections between compulsion –and- reduced liberty, as well as universal suffrage –and- expanded centralism. My apologies.

  27. September 29, 2008 at 22:59

    Yeah…Let’s force people to vote for incompetents and call it nation building. We can start the Department of Forced Voting and then draft everyone who couldn’t make it as an airport screener to be in the Forced Voting Force. We will need a super secret Forced Voting Spy Agency to sniff out vote terrorists and the Office of Forced Voting Economic Aid. Think Patriotic Fervor, think Great Nation. This sounds like a job for the UN…

    Why is it that the people who most often call for force don’t really wield any? We are already being forced to sit through this election. Isn’t that enough?

    This is another election that is more about nation propping up. There’s lots of talk about change but nobody will blink when it isn’t delivered. Let’s let nature take it’s course. The people in America who don’t vote aren’t stupid, especially wayward, or markedly irresponsible. Quite the contrary, they are just fed up with blowhard politicians. They can usually make it through life without having to buy one.

    I’m all about letting things run their natural course. When it’s time to chop away the wreckage and rebuild then maybe we can have real elections where people want to cast their vote. Let’s have One Man, One Vote. You can step up anywhere in the country and identify yourself and get to vote. Your vote gets counted and the candidate with the most votes wins. When we have actual political representation then we can work on fair taxes and a process for some representation on how they are spent.

    You will force Americans to vote right after you force them to give up their guns. We’ll start in Montana. You go first……

  28. September 29, 2008 at 23:17

    First let me be the first to say that not everybody should vote. There are too many blissful people voting already.

    If you think that Obama is a Muslim, you should not vote. If you think that the by electing a certain president will cause them to go door to door and take your guns, thank you for playing, but next. If in spite of every national and international intelligence agency, person in the cabinet at the time, the president’s own conformation, and 6 years of turning up nothing you still believe that Iraq had WMD. If even after the testimony of our own FBI, CIA, The 9/11 commision (pages 60 -75) you still believe Saddam had connections to 9/11 and al Qaeda, then you should actually be barred from voting. If you find flag pins and marketing logos figure into you decision making, you should not vote. If you think the skills of an average secretary rise to the level of “executive experience” needed to run the US, you should stay in your trailer on voting day.

    Look, this might be harsh, but too long people have voted on the basis of marketing schemes and not the merit of the person. People are too swayed by lies, half truths and thing they don’t understand, and not enough by resume and education. Would you higher Miss America to run your financial institute? Would you accept a law grad with not even a class in biology to perform your brain surgery? Would you let a guy from Iran perform life saving surgery? So why would you higher elected officials without knowing how they have done in the past!!? People know more about the history of American Idol candidates then they do their elected officials.

  29. September 29, 2008 at 23:47


    I think there should be some questions one must answer before they are allowed to vote. It should appear on your driver’s license that you are allowed to vote. Right next to the, “you are eligible to donate your brain to science”, box. You should know how many branches of government there are. How long is each of their terms of service? You should be able to place in order the steps a bill goes through to become a law. You should know how many votes that the president’s is worth vote in the senate. You should be able to pick out the definition of an “earmark”. One should be able to name 5 departments that is funded by tax money. You should be able to at least pick out the first 10 amendments from a list.

    As an American citizen you are a voting member on a board for the biggest economy in the world. You should know something about the history and day to day workings of that companies. Often when watching “who wants to be…” I wonder why anybody who wasn’t 100% sure about their answer would even bother to vote on the “ask the audience” lifeline. You wouldn’t tell your kid to watch “Survivor” instead of studying for the SAT. You picture the answers your kid provides will have an impact on his/ her future. The same passion should be applied when selecting a leader.

  30. September 30, 2008 at 04:17

    Pat, Jennifer and all other die hard Hillary supporters,
    I would just like to bring to your attention as I have to others previously, the matter about the cojones that you Pat (re. post 5.29pm Sep 29/09/08), say Hillary Clinton supposedly possesses. A pathological liar and coward would be the more appropriate description.
    I think it wise for you to have sight of this information.
    It concerns the time when she and daughter Chelsea were at Tuzla airport, Bosnia, March 25th, 1996, and she recounts falsely that she was subject to Serb sniper and mortar fire all around them, when coming into land. And she had to run to cover straight from the plane upon landing in order to avoid being targeted by Serb forces around the area.
    This is a flagrant lie. There are over 100 news reviews and accounts of her visit that day. Not a single newspaper or television station reported a security threat to the First Lady. The Washington Post’s John Pomfret is on record as having said – “As a former AP service wire hack I can safely say that it would have been in my lead if anything like that had happened.”
    Greeted by smiling US and Bosnian officials Hillary was welcomed by Emina Bicakcic an eight-year-old Moslem girl, who read to her a poem in English. An Associated Press photograph shows a smiling Hillary bending down to receive a kiss. “There is peace now Emina said to Hillary “because Mr Clinton signed it. All this peace. I love it.” Pomfret reported this in the Washington Post the following day. But in the First Lady’s official schedule released on Wednesday, confirmed arrival at Tuzla airport at 8.45am, greeted by various dignitaries including Emina Bickacic (whose name has been mysteriously redacted from the document.) CBS news footage clearly shows Hillary calmly walking out of the back of the C-17 transport plane at Tuzla.
    Clinton made no mention of “sniper fire” in her “Living History” autobiography, published in 2003. But whilst on the campaign trail, she recounted very similar to the aforementioned events – “I remember landing under sniper fire, there was supposed to be some kind of a greeting ceremony at the airport, but instead we just ran with our heads down to get to the vehicles to get to our base” told during a speech at George Washington, University on March 17th, 2008. She imparts to the American people and beyond a great untruth and total fabrication of events. This is a gross deceit at the highest level and for this she should be held to account.
    What say you?

  31. 31 Tom (of Melbourne)
    September 30, 2008 at 04:22

    In Australia, voting is compulsory with fines imposed against absentees. People SHOULD vote in a democratic society as it’s a right that millions of people have died fighting for. People, however, should not be forced to vote as abstention is also an individual right.

    Denying the people the basic right to remain silent means some could be forced to make a decision against their will. Compulsory voting would therefore be a breach of an individual’s right of conscience.

  32. 32 jamily5
    September 30, 2008 at 06:54

    No no no, no paper ballots. Keep it accessible.
    But, I understand that it would probably be more fun that way.
    Then, you could spoil the vote in your own way.
    And, that is just what many zimbabweans did when Mugabe’s regime came and forced people to vote.

    Don’t we have the choice to vote for a candidate for **any reason that we deem valid?
    I agree that those reasons are often arbitrary and irrelavant. But, that is the great thing about “freedom.” We are free to be deem what information that we find important.

    Would you let a guy from Iran perform life saving surgery?
    If he was an Iranian doctor, yes!
    Would you higher Miss America to run your financial institute?
    If she had an accounting degree, yes.
    Being Miss America does not make her exempt from getting an accounting degree and being Iranian does not exempt one from being a doctor.

    if we have the right to vote, then we have the “right,” not to exercise our “rights.”
    I understand about implementing some kind of voting test, but really, we have the freedom to vote and we should.
    You can’t make people be more informed.
    And, you can’t make people vote.

  33. September 30, 2008 at 07:37

    Mathew..I say we lock you and Hillary in a concrete cell and my money is on her to emerge with all the cojones in the morning….
    And you got it wrong about Bosnia….She gave 10,000 vaccinations while under sniper fire.

  34. 34 Tom D Ford
    September 30, 2008 at 07:45

    Well how did that work out for the people under Saddam Hussein?

    The punishment for not voting was death, and for voting against Hussein was death.

    Democracy in the extreme!

    But a Democracy!?

  35. September 30, 2008 at 12:40


    The belief we should be allowed to vote out of ignorance has lead us to where we are now. It certainly wasn’t the intent of our founders. i.e. the electoral college, women, slaves, and poor men couldn’t vote. They were afreaid that these people would not be informed enough to make a sound decision. Talk about forsight.

    Again, a guy shows up to run your business that your family depends on, would you hire him/ her on his appearance alone? Would you not call his references and make sure he is what and who he says he is? Would you let your mildly mentally handicapped and alcoholic brother pick the CEO of your business? Why wouldn’t you apply this logic to the biggest business in the world?

  36. 36 Bob in Queensland
    September 30, 2008 at 13:43

    The system down here in Australia features compulsory voting but it’s not an unreserved success. Many people vote without much knowledge of the candidates–quite a few numpties just start at the top of the ballot and work down.

  37. 37 Luz Ma from Mexico
    September 30, 2008 at 13:52

    Voting is a right. Like any right you have the choice to excercise it or not.

    However, I think that the ballots should have the option of “none of the above”. In many elections I would have voted that way, instead of making my vote nil because neither of the candidates convinced me.

  38. 38 Matthew
    September 30, 2008 at 16:09


    Amusing, I’ll give you that. But when it really comes down to it you guys don’t seem to be able to accept or either like cold hard facts and unpalatable truths one little bit!

    A man or woman of your political persuasion, who you readily identify with whether their reputation be smeared or tarnished and there is irrefutable evidence to that effect you just don’t want to admit to their considerable failings and weak character do you?

    There’s plenty more from where that came from for the Democrats and the whiter than white Republicans out there.

    When will you learn to accept that some things just are, and Hillary should be in a court of law answering some very difficult and probing questions, as should husband, Bill for other issues!

    When Tony Blair first swept to power on a wave of national euphoria, under the banner of New Labour and unknown at the time by most, but what turned out to be fake and manufactured socialism. Many didn’t realize at the time that we were being sold a huge and gaping DUD of a political philosophy, married to media manipulation and political spin at an unprecedented level. Those who had eyes to see saw that he was a smiling egotistical maniac of a man and a Christian zealot to boot.

  39. September 30, 2008 at 21:40

    “Us guys,” just aren’t accepting your cold hard facts and irrefutable truths. It’s no wonder you can’t sell them because as usual you have strayed from the thread into some random bloviated grab bag of opinion. How’s that for an unpalatable?

    You have no clue what my persuasion is or what I’m identified with, especially politically. That is mostly because I think politics and religion are personal choices and should remain so. I don’t know how they became personalities one could inhabit, but I don’t think it is good for any local community and certainly not for the world.
    Considerable failings and weak character and choosing not to vote for them is exactly my point. Americans get forced into things when you fly airplanes into buildings or bomb Pearl Harbor.
    I also maintain that there is more than one way to vote. When a huge segment of the United States gets up and goes to work and gets it done despite all the arm waving, that is a vote. The rest is just is just a lot of poliTICKS.
    And me? I’m just checking in to see if there is anything on where that BBC bus went and who they are talking to. I might have wanted to use the word bloviated in a post. My only attachment to Hillary is that when you remove the name and the pantsuit, then she is the best democrat on paper. Obama is a young man. They should have run one two, one two, through and through, and spent the next 16 years rebuilding a lot of things that need work. There is no way I would want a president who plays basketball like a pencil neck. These are just observations and opinions on my part. I might try and present them with a nice turn of phrase, but I’m not stridently advocating they be shoved down lesser mortal’s throats.

  40. 40 Dennis@OCC
    October 1, 2008 at 04:34

    Voting is a RIGHT, That most people want to protect that right…..many young people and many others in the demographic fold, don’t want to vote, because it is a waste of time….

    interest of full disclosure: i am doing the poll-worker training course requirements…


  41. 41 Matthew
    October 1, 2008 at 11:20


    With reference to Blair in my earlier post – he was a fraud but proposed to be a great combination in the particular political guise of one pretending to spread positive influence, a certain style and splendid political mantra upon a gullible and unsuspecting nation. He wanted to control and instill in a nation false hopes and promises, all the time professing to be an honest player. The unwitting and “like a rabbit caught in the headlights” and glaze eyed media, fell for it. Some of us could see very early on that he was insincere. And when it came to joining himself to the hip with George Bush in his military jaunt into Iraq, even though they’re supposed to be on totally different sides of the political spectrum, he was then found out, but deliberately and calculatingly espied his further place in history, beyond already having been the supposed saviour of Kosovo previously, in his megalomaniacal eyes.

    He was unmasked by those who previously had supported him within his own party. In the biggest peace time demonstration ever in the UK, 1.5 million plus objecting to the proposed invasion of Iraq, he knew better in all his arrogance and the twisting of truths and events and fabricated reports of “Weapons of Mass Destruction” into his favour, and riding on the back of a weak and partisan media, things were worked to his benefit, ’til the investigations began, and his party began haemorrhaging support and influence in all avenues. The man was and is a liar, and pretended to be a force for good to all those around him and was everything to everyone. He’s a detestable example of a Prime Minister to the UK. I’m not unpatriotic or traitorous in my opinions, just honest in my assertions. To blindly subscribe and support an ethos that is lacking and wanting in all areas and policies, is to be disingenuous with oneself. Bush’s policies and methodology for deploying and carrying out your government’s tactics so far, should be held up for serious scrutiny and investigation at all times. When will you guys stop defending the down right lies and the absolute and categorically indefensible? What is it you are afraid of? Whether it be Republican or Democrat, a lie, is a lie, is a lie, and dress it up or down in any ident and you can’t escape that FACT!

  42. 42 Matthew
    October 1, 2008 at 11:44


    By the way I’ll sit out in the concrete bunker or a rubber room with Hillary if you so wish. But she might just drive me mad with her incessant and never ending “I’m going to be President, I am, I’m going to be the first woman in the Whitehouse, I Goddamn am. It’s my birth, god given and inalienable right to be the first woman president in United States of America.” I’m just hoping that there won’t be any adjoining rooms with echo chambers.
    “I coulda had class, I coulda been a contender, I coulda been somebody,” instead of a TWO FACED LIAR! On the Waterfront springs to mind and is more than appropriate – Hillary deluded with visions of grandeur though, of course not.

  43. October 1, 2008 at 13:06

    September 29, 2008 at 10:44 am
    Not voting is also a political satement,it could indicate antipathy towards a political process or issue, even a degree of satisfaction.
    No matter the apathy of political system or the dispensation by the ruling government, not voting as a citizen is a national badcheck. The best way to remonstrate about a failed political system is to vote it out of power. Dinenfranchising yourself indirectly entrenches the bad order. The responsibility of a good citizen is to vote regularly no matter whether your vote changes anything or not.Your vote vindicates you that you are not in support of a particular system.

  44. 44 Matthew
    October 1, 2008 at 13:19


    What’s the point of having cojones when all you’re going to do with them is BALLS UP, in the manner that Hillary so clearly has. When that information from Bosnia came to light did people start to see through her to a certain extent, plus the letting slip NUKE IRAN comment, probably didn’t help her cause either.

    Bush’s cojones similar as well. He and others like him never served their country but seem to think it ok to send young guys off to die in foreign lands, just in order to fulfill his unrealised ambitions and DAD’S UNFINISHED BUSINESS, no matter the evidence to support it and no matter the consequences upon the country itself. Planes flown into buildings not by Iraqi pilots but by Saudi Arabian ones, according to YOUR GOVERNMENT’S assertions, sorry I should have said EVIDENCE AND OVERWHELMING FACTS!. Or do you want to have it both ways. Bush is telling the truth but on the other hand he’s lying. Iraq responsible for 9/11, yes,no quick make up your mind. “Weapons of Mass Destruction” oh we”ll go with that one then. And not forgetting if Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan then THEY MUST BE IN IRAQ! Stands to reason, doesn’t it? Anyway, whatever we say they’ll buy it because we have YOUR BEST INTERESTS AT HEART AT ALL TIMES AMERICA! We can easily sell that to the American public, because we always do, so what could be so different this time around. Hang on I’m in power, so why the hell am I posing such pointless questions to myself. I can do WHATEVER THE HELL I LIKE, and damn everything else. Thanks guys for not making me look a complete incompetent and double dealing fool. Which way is it for GOD’S SAKE? Who’s lying and who’s telling the truth here? A tad difficult to crawl out of this one, wouldn’t you say, with clever and evasive doublespeak.

    The US economy dived so badly recently, and thought by many to be actually worse than the “Wall Street Crash” because everything at that time was mainly so centered around the USA and attached to her domestic economy. But the interconnected and intertwined nature of business and the markets today are truly global. As we say America sneezes AND THE WHOLE WORLD GETS A COLD!

  45. 45 John in Salem
    October 1, 2008 at 13:20

    In the U.S. voting is optional.
    Problem is – if you do decide to vote you’re usually faced with choosing the lesser of two evils or of throwing it away on a token candidate who doesn’t stand a chance, in which case you’re actually supporting the leading major party candidate.

    As Paul Simon said –
    “Laugh about it, shout about it,
    when you’ve got to choose,
    anyway you look at it you lose”.

  46. October 1, 2008 at 13:33

    in india its theright of everyindian citizens tovoteup heldbyindianconstitution .butinnorthernstatesparticularly uttarpradesh,bihar etc illiteratepeople are bundledinto a lot orpack like cattles makethem go to thepollingstations andcaste voteatgunpointoranyintimatorymeansto particularcandidatewho will be a goon orelsetheymay workingintheirfields for paltrysums justlikebondedlabour .thatswhyinindiapoliticians ofthisilk wants illeteracy to thriveintheirregionso that theycangetorforcefullytheir votewhichmakesthem get power sothatthey cansiphon crores ofrupees likelaluyadav ,whosiphoned 900crores incattlefeed scam ,andstill beingconsidered as a messiah ofyadavas.also peoplelike mulayamsinghyadavandamarsingh arebirdsof same feather .thatswhycongress usedthem as middlemen ingivingcrores to memberofparliament to cross vote during nuclear deal motionin indianparliament .
    here notonly citizens areforcedto votebut even thememberofparliamentaremadeto vote forcefully for fewcrores .

  47. October 1, 2008 at 13:33

    Hi gang ! ;-)… No, by all means we shouldn’t be forced to vote under any circumstances… I have made a choice not to participate in the upcoming general elections in Iraq, unless of course a political bloc from Mars runs for the elections, because I do believe that all of our politicians are just a big joke… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  48. 48 Matthew
    October 1, 2008 at 13:35


    How on earth can the US fund a war in Iraq and Afghanistan, even consider getting involved in Iran, North Korea, etc, all the time keeping it’s beady eye on matters elsewhere, and giving serious consideration to funding missile shields and the like (that rubber band could snap at any moment when being stretched to its nth degree), and at the exact same time it took it’s eyes off or deliberately ignored factors in the home economy, in such a drastic and potentially far reaching and damaging way, without contemplating the unimaginable consequences to follow from it. How considerate was that! Bail out of the banks and assist a recovery, the economy probably will survive, but the knock on effect will reverberate and be felt for a considerable time to come. It will be unseen and unreported by most media as the story starts to fade and the traders and markets return to their BUSINESS AS NORMAL, now there’s an interesting epithet. Will anything really change? I seriously doubt it. The investigations will dissolve, the headlines will dissipate and it will be – as you were America.
    It would be nice to think just for once that someone is going to have the guts to nail those responsible for this to the floor and make them bleed, metaphorically of course (for the benefit of the moderators there). If no one is held accountable in anyway then those reckless individuals will come out of their siege mentality bunkers, wipe the sweat from their brow and just say that was a close one in the self-serving manner and mindset they’ve inculcated in others and adopted for their own financial benefits.

    All of the above and aforementioned information in related posts are sure fire reasons why you must give the strongest consideration to using your democratic right to vote. If you think for one moment, one second, that events and situations may display themselves in such a manner and fashion as I have tried to convey to a wider audience, then it is only you that will bemoan a situation and have yourself to blame, come the time when an event is entirely out of your hands and come the time for dubious political decisions and indiscretions conducted in YOUR SO CALLED NAME! Too late my friends!

  49. 49 Robert
    October 1, 2008 at 13:47

    Not voting as a statement is what allows politicans to get away with as much as they do. They know that they will get away with it as nobody seems to cares. Non participation also allows the fringe and single issue parties a lot more power than they truely deserve and force those issues higher up the agenda than they need to or should be.

  50. October 1, 2008 at 13:52

    In a democracy we should have the right to vote or not as we wish. The danger in forcing people to vote is that monitoring IF they vote is only one step from monitoring WHAT they vote. What if you dont like any of the parties or candidates and dont want to endorse any of them?

  51. October 1, 2008 at 13:56

    Proposed 700 Billion Bailout is too Little, Too Late to End the Debt Crisis; Too Much, Too Soon for the US Bond Market

    Click to access Final-Bailout-White-Paper.pdf

    The above pdf file is linked at the following URL: Dow 778-Point Plunge: What’s Next (must read white paper linked at the following URL)?


  52. 52 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 13:56

    “You should know how many votes that the president’s is worth vote in the senate. You should be able to pick out the definition of an “earmark”. One should be able to name 5 departments that is funded by tax money.”

    Glass houses, Dwight. One could suggest restricting the vote to those able to construct a grammatical sentence in English.

  53. 53 Erin
    October 1, 2008 at 14:09

    No, you should not be forced to vote. But we should amend who GETS to vote.

    16-year olds with part-time jobs that pay taxes: Should vote

    25-year olds on welfare who do NOT have jobs: Should NOT vote.

    This is a problem in the US because people who don’t pay into the system get to vote to decide how the money is spent. What kind of sense does that make?

  54. 54 1430a
    October 1, 2008 at 14:13

    hello everyone,
    i think i already commented on this topic before,but just adding to that:

    Voting is a necessity.Everyone has a freedom of choice and so they must be allowed to choose who they think can represent their country in the world stage in a better way.
    In most of the Western world,problems with voting is very less.But in Asia,it is quite common.People who are illiterate are usually ignored .Usually they don’t even know what is meant by ‘Voting’ and it is unfair for them.
    But there is another side:There is no use in forcing people to vote when they don’t know what is good for them.

    But overall there can be a solution if the government provides better information to sensitize the voters about the elections,candidates and their agendas.

    Thank you

  55. 55 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 14:23

    Erin, what you’re advocating is very literally a return to the nineteenth century, which is when England moved away from property restrictions on the vote. Just checking, is “back to the happy days of Victoria” really a position you want to advocate?

  56. 56 Roy, Washington DC
    October 1, 2008 at 14:23

    Voting should be encouraged, but not required. Would you really want polls to be diluted by people who either know nothing about the candidates, or are simply too lazy to vote otherwise?

    (Yes, there are other reasons for not voting, such as making a political statement. That is an individual’s choice, and I am not referring to that here.)

  57. 57 Ogola Benard
    October 1, 2008 at 14:32

    Voting is a democratic right. There should not be any force involved in it. If am forced, then what am i voting for? A forced decision? Personal interest? or?
    I mean if one is not happy about the vote, then why should he vote? Voting is a business. It should well good for the voter!

  58. 58 Ogola Benard
    October 1, 2008 at 14:34

    Voting is a political minority theory! so why force?

  59. 59 debbie in Cleveland
    October 1, 2008 at 14:36

    HI ALL
    I wish it could be mandatory that everyone vote, but then it wouldn’t be free elections….and that is what it is all about FREE elections.

    Personally speaking, I vote so I can talk about politics, complain about the officials, and debate issues. If I find that family, friends, and others don’t vote, I really don’t want to waste my time listening to their rants and raves if they don’t take the time to vote – I also let them know that too. My brother-in-law let it out once he wasn’t registered and that was the end of conversation with him until he went to vote. (after dinner table talks were quite for a short while too)

    I also find it funny and awkward to listen to those who go on and on about people dying in wars for our freedoms and then don’t use that freedom to use their “voice” in how to run the country…no wonder lobbyists have so much power.

    Even if I don’t line the candidates or issues, I do go and sign in that I was there to vote and then turn in a blank/partial ballot. There should be a “none of the above” line to punch. I hope election reforms will include a longer day for voting and NO news/predictions etc on the TV/radio about the elections until the next day.

  60. October 1, 2008 at 14:38


    Why would I want people who are not intelegent enough to see the value in voting to decide my elections?

  61. 61 Matthew
    October 1, 2008 at 14:39

    Hi Lubna,

    I can indeed sympathise highly with your choice of not voting in what the informed and enlightened appear to view as being a wholly rigged process.

    I was involved with UNICEF in London, prior to the invasion of Iraq and we were highlighting our suspicions of what might occur as a result of an unfettered military strike as to that which unfolded.
    Subsequently, the largest immunisation programme of its type to date was undertaken prior to conflict. 4.2 million babies and children were inoculated in 2 weeks, using doctors, medical staff and 14,000 volunteers. An operation of such magnitude, yet as far as we know was never publicised by any media at all, even though rigorous efforts were made to do so.

    I wondered if you wouldn’t mind at all, me asking you a few questions to to do with Iraq and the invasion, and hopefully eliciting some answers from you.

    First of all did you agree with the Coalition Force’s intervention at all, on the basis of a lie?

    Have there been any real and cast iron benefits to date by removing Saddam Hussein from power, and indeed has there been the complete opposite instead?

    Do you think that western media as a whole are reporting the full and unexpurgated story and have done for 5 years and beforehand?

    When the Americans eventually leave do you think there will be a smooth transition to democracy and a benevolent control by politicians throughout the diverse regions of the country?

    Do you think that most Americans, British and the Western public in general understand as a whole and have a real insight as to what is happening there?

    How safe do you and others feel on a daily basis?

    Has the invasion and occupation reignited the Sunni versus Shia debacle and was it inevitable that left alone the situation wouldn’t have happened, at least not played out in such an unrelenting fashion as witnessed so far (being relayed via honest reporting by western media as we are led to believe by mainstream news media and reports from the region so far or is it otherwise) and are we being duped in an unsuspecting manner?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

  62. 62 Bob in Queensland
    October 1, 2008 at 14:43

    The debate is an easy one. On the plus side of compulsory voting is the fact that your government is selected by a much more representative number of citizens. The downside is that you are forcing people who are very likely not poltically aware or informed to express an opinion. On balance, I think it’s better to encourage than to force.

  63. 63 Peter Gizzi UK
    October 1, 2008 at 14:43

    Hi All,
    I want compulsory voting. When having a drink in my local pub I hear people complaining either about our local council, or The Government. I ask them “Did you vote?” If the answer is “NO” then I tell them to shut up, I feel they have lost their right to speak!

    In The UK we vote on Thursdays! I think this goes back to the time when we had “half days”. Shops would be closed. As has been said above voting should be made easier, though walking half a mile isn’t too much to ask is it? I do use the postal vote but have been severley criticised for so doing. It can be fiddled?

    Also above it is suggested that either “none of the above” should be included. I agree with that too. If enough people make such statements it could cause change?

    As you all know I am totally anti European Union because of the undemocratic way it has come into being. The Irish People (bless them) voted “NO” in The Referendum on The Lisbon Treaty. President Jose Manuel De Barosso did the same as Robert Mugabe and ignored them. They will now be forced to vote again! Is that democracy or dictatorship?

    Finally when talking politics in my local pub I hear many people say they do not vote, “Cos it’s all done in Brusselles aint it!” The British voter it seems has become a plastic puppet whose strings are pulled by The European Union and the same applies to most of our politicians. The European Union does keep £10 Billion of British Taxpayers money every year. No wonder our taxes are so high.

    P.S. Please don’t say The EU has kept the peace in Europe. The UN and United Nations have done that! The EU will simply cause civil war.

  64. October 1, 2008 at 14:50

    Jon Kiparsky,
    First, grammatical knowledge should never be a requirement as it doesn’t show understanding of the political and legislative system. But hey, we can negociate. I would not be worried.

    Secondly, I was attempting not to give away the answer to a trick question. Congrats to you for picking up the grammatical error but missing the systematical fact that the president doesn’t vote in the legislative branch.

  65. 65 Julie P
    October 1, 2008 at 14:50

    We can’t the volume of voters as it is, even with having the lowest voter turn out in the voting world. I can just imagine the debacle if everyone voted.

  66. October 1, 2008 at 14:53

    Voting should be considered as a part of national duty. Not to vote means being unable to take a stand on issues or to be acquiescent about the policies undertaken by those in charge. It also means a sign of public protest when the turnout is very low.

    However there is no way to force people to vote if they don’t want to as it amounts to forcing them to choose between candidates or policies they don’t care about. What matters is to have transparent elections reflecting the will of those who choose to vote. In any society, there are people who are born to lead and others who are born lo be led. There are passive as there are active citizens. There are those for whom whatever policy won’t make a difference as the system remains the same regardless of the apparent new approaches.

    Making voting compulsory means forcing people to choose a direction among others. In dictatorial regimes, people vote out of fear of being persecuted and the percentage of approval varies from 99.99% to 100%.. In this case not to vote has more significance than voting because it amounts to challenging those who seek to stay in power by whatever means and elections become just a formality to “legitimize” their stay in power.

  67. 67 Bob in Queensland
    October 1, 2008 at 14:55

    @ Julie P

    Surely infrastructure problems can’t a shouldn’t be used as a reason to limit the number of voters? That sounds remarkably like something Robert Mugabe might say!

    India, with a population of 1.2 billion, manages to cope with a relatively high voter turnout. I’m sure the richest country in the world could manage if they try. Get rid of those stupid machines and print some ballots if you’re worried.

  68. October 1, 2008 at 15:04

    if only there was an option on the Ballot paper or the EVM- Electronic Voting Machine for ” none of the above” .Then see the people move out in hordes to express the disgust of the Hobsons Choice. And if 50% of the votes polled are of NONE of the Above, then all the candidates contesting should be debarred from contesting for 3 consecutive elections . Then let the constituency remain unrepresentated for the next 5-6 months and only those will come who are the grass root politicians or Social workers who have indeed worked in being sensitive

    The Political parties especially in India have developed arrogance that they can manipulate with issues that they forget later. Money and liquor power flows with total chaos in the run up to the elections So much loud drumming .

    That is why there is such disinterest to vote. If in the true democratic sense, the voters are empowered to express the selection , then they should be also empowered to cast on ” none of the above” That will be true reflection of mandate. But there is absolute bankruptcy of Statesman like in India to assert and to benefit the man on the street. and empower him.

    The Hobson choice and the conflicting parties all agree to NOT empower. The previous Chief Election Commissioner JM Lygdoh had made this recommendation of NONE of the ABOVE but the Govt just sat on the file with no electroal reforms.

    In only any shade of Rahul Gandhi to Narendra Modi to make this mention of RIght to Reject with NONE of the Above, they would sweep the election due next year with massive voting turnout. With positive votes and not manipulative ones.

    My loud thoughts

    RK Dhanvada
    Hyderabad , India

  69. October 1, 2008 at 15:05

    I should not be forced to vote under any circumstance(s). In the event that the politicians up for election have no credible plans when elected, I reserve the right to vote or not.

  70. 70 Julie P
    October 1, 2008 at 15:09


    I just my government is just incompetent with handling voting.

  71. October 1, 2008 at 15:10

    We should not in any way be forced to vote, but we should be made to care. The only way that is going to happen is if we banish the electoral system and count every vote.

    I was in France for the French elections when Sarkozy trounced Segolene. I was shocked to learn that, not only do they have a straight-forward counting system, but they finish counting all of the votes before the end of the day. And they don’t use electronic machines or anything like that. They simply slip a card with the candidate’s name into an envelope and seal it. You can even enter no card at all as a protest vote.

    How simple is that?

    We say this every election and yet no one ever does anything about it. We’ve GOT to banish the ancient, irrelevant electoral system. Even the debacle in 2000 didn’t prove to people that individual votes count. We have to make it clear that they do.

  72. October 1, 2008 at 15:15

    Basically is beggers belief from me.

    So many will openly state “We are a democracy” and then come up with umpteen reasons why people shouldn’t vote, be it ‘freedom’ not to (That is a classic Har, Har), be it too many people to count, not enough space on the ballot, the day, it’s another countries fault, it means people will have to walk, it raining, ad nausium.

    Look at how that little X came about – look at what has been given to get people the freedom not to do anything. I am sure you will be very proud and really happy that your democracy works for you because you did, and do, precisly nothing to change what needs to be changed – and then you have the freedom to say how bad things are.

  73. 73 roebert
    October 1, 2008 at 15:16

    Why You Should be Forced to Vote; featuring Gordon and Mrs Brown.

    GB: Gad, I’m so bored, dear. Wish I had something constructive to do.
    Mrs B: Well, you might propose a new bill or something.
    GB: That’s it! I’ll propose a bill forcing people to…er…well…I’ll force them to vote!
    Mrs B: Vote for whom, darling?
    GB: Well…er…for us…or them…or that other lot..
    Mrs B: Exactly. People have no brains at all, and if you force them to vote…well, you said it, Gordy…stupid people always vote for the other lot.
    BG: True. Can’t have that. Increases the gamble. Look what happened in America. Better to force the buggers not to vote…like those chaps in China.
    Mrs B: That’s right. We don’t want to turn our sheep into sheepdogs, do we?
    GB: Quite right. No, by Jove, I have it now! I’ll propose a bill forcing people to incorporate…whatsitcalled?…sharia law… into our judiciary. That should give them something to think about…keep their minds off politics.
    Mrs B: Excellent idea. Pass the HP Sauce, will you dear? It does so improve the chips.
    GB: And the egg.

  74. 74 Dan
    October 1, 2008 at 15:20

    I believe that when one comes from a repressive regime when one’s forced vote essentially validates the existing dictator then voting is a sham.
    To be able to vote in a free election to express ones personal choice, no matter what that choice is, is not a duty, obligation or anything other than pure joy.
    Similarly to opt to not vote with no repercussions is the same joy.

  75. October 1, 2008 at 15:21


    However there is no way to force people to vote if they don’t want to as it amounts to forcing them to choose between candidates or policies they don’t care about.

    But it doesn’t. You can scribble a drawing of a cat on a ballot – write some expletive if you want. You don`t have to choose a candidate, but the action of voting, to me, should be mandatory – what you do with that vote in the ballot box is up to you.

  76. 76 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 15:23

    Voting is a considered a fundamental right in the US. Same as free speech. But with free speech, freedom of speech includes the right to not speak (the supreme court case was about a license plate motton that said “life free or die” and someone covered that up, and the supreme court said they can because freedom of speech includes the freedom not to speak. I would presume they would apply the same standard would apply to voting. The right to vote includes the right to not vote.

  77. 77 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 15:28

    I have to agree with Maria– the Electoral College needs to go. Just think– forcing people to vote still won’t mean that the will of the people will be heard. The popular vote in the US doesn’t really matter. Why should people feel the need to vote when the system is so confusing and arse-backwards that they know there is a good chance that their vote won’t matter if the opposing candidate wins states with a higher number of electoral votes?

    Voting shouldn’t be mandatory, but the system needs to be reworked in order to get people out there to vote. Election Day should be a holiday- polls should be open from 12am to 11:59pm, there should be more polling locations, the popular vote should win and we need to ditch the “I Voted” stickers and opt for mandatory hand stamps like they do in nightclubs so that no stamp the next day gives family, friends and co-workers sufficient proof that you didn’t vote, thus earning the right to smack you upside the head

  78. 78 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 15:32

    Dwight – Don’t worry, I don’t actually think that grammatical knowledge would be a sensible requirement for voting, I was only pointing out that selecting those criteria has always been a loaded game, and has generally worked out supporting toe already in power – an amazing coincidence, that, isn’t it?
    And yes, I did notice your first trick question. Did you notice your second?

  79. 79 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 15:32

    @ Lauren

    There’s more than the Presidential election. You also vote on senators, congressmen, state congress, local officials, propositions put for the people, etc depending if it’s time for those elections. Every time I have voted in presidential elections, there were several other things to vote for as well.

  80. 80 Peter Gizzi UK
    October 1, 2008 at 15:37

    Me again,
    I meant to say The Un and Nato. Another elderly momemt. Sorry.

    Although a different subject, many people are “forced” to be part of various religions. Is that democratic?

  81. 81 Dan
    October 1, 2008 at 15:43

    I am always amuse when I hear cries to eliminate the Electoral College.
    Without the Electoral College candidates would only campaign in NY, CA, TX & FL as that is where the population is.
    The Framers understood that smaller States needed a voice or would be ignored.
    My question to you is why do you want to ignore the people in Fly-Over Country and only elect a Rock Star? Absent an Electoral College that is what you will get.

  82. 82 Roberto
    October 1, 2008 at 15:44

    RE “”Why should people feel the need to vote when the system is so confusing and arse-backwards that they know there is a good chance that their vote won’t matter if the opposing candidate wins states with a higher number of electoral votes?””

    ———- If they are so easily confused and so discouraged if the opposing candidate wins, perhaps they ain’t smart enough or emotionally stable enough to be voting and qualify for a donut and cup of juice on election day instead.

    Personally, I’d like to force those who favor mandatory voting to have to drag around a mandatory ball and chain for the rest of their lives in shoes 6 sizes too large for their feet.

  83. 83 Auspicious Ndamuwa
    October 1, 2008 at 15:46

    Making voting compulsory sounds more archaic to me. What should politicians do then? They have to be more realistic so that people who lost trust in the political process in the first place, must reconsider casting votes. By being realistic there should be an element of desisting from spending tax payers money recklessly and other matters. It is also important to send across the message that bad leaders are elected by citizens who refuse to vote. It is vital to emphasise on the importance of voting and not dragging people by the neck to a polling station!

  84. 84 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 15:50

    @ steve

    Thats very true but the Presidential election is a pretty big deal but its decided in a completely different fashion. Senators, congressmen etc are for each state and the popular vote wins- why should the presidential election be any different?

    Everything else I stated applies to all types of elections- voting shouldn’t be mandatory- its a privilage (the 15th and 19th amendments don’t say that everyone has the right to vote just that no one can be denied a vote based on race and sex). We need to make all elections more accessiable to all people and if that means having another holiday so be it.

  85. 85 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 15:53

    Peter – since belief is intrinsically impossible to force (you choose to believe or not believe, so how could someone force you to make such a choice?) I can only assume you’re talking about state support for religious institutions, paid for through tax collections. In that case, I don’t really see the difference between asking “is it democratic to fund a religious organization?” and “is it democratic to fund an arts organization?” In both cases, the process of decision making is either democratic or it is not, and it is the same process.
    Now, I have no respect whatever for a religious organization, particularly one calling itself Christian, that accepts funding from the state, given that sect’s history with tax collectors and government enforcement and such things, but that’s my personal sentiment. If those priests can take tax money with one hand and bless the poor with the other, then I suppose their god has made them ambidextrous. That has nothing to do with whether the decision to give your tax money or mine to the church is made in a democratic fashion.

  86. 86 selena in Canada
    October 1, 2008 at 15:55

    Well, this is a good question.

    Considering how long it took to secure the vote for all citizens, we could be inclined to conclude, “Now that you have the right to vote, you have to vote.”

    But wasn’t it that very attitude from rulers that obliged people seek the right to vote in the first place?

    It ain’t easy being democratic… 😉

  87. 87 Anthony
    October 1, 2008 at 15:56

    No way, especially in the U.S., since if the people who don’t vote would be forced to vote, they would vote for the person who “has the same name as my brother” or “has a cool name” or “sounds hot”.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  88. 88 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 15:58

    @ Lauren

    “Senators, congressmen etc are for each state and the popular vote wins- why should the presidential election be any different?”

    That’s exactly why. Residents of california can only vote for the candidates of california. The President is a national election. They have the electoral college so that the votes of the large states don’t dominate the smaller states.

  89. 89 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 15:59

    @ Anthony

    you left out “would rather have a beer with”

  90. 90 Dan
    October 1, 2008 at 15:59

    Your logic is flawed
    Voting for a Senator or Congressman is VERY different than voting for a President based on popular vote.
    In any STATE the demographics are such that population variances are negated by having a Congressman from local districts and Senators tend to balance out in each State despite population concentrations.
    Being redundant eliminating the Electoral College will result in a Rock Star being elected based upon the votes of 4 states.

  91. 91 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 16:06

    Absent the Electoral College and what you get is what the majority wants. Why should a candidate win based on the fact that they won a handful of states with a high electoral vote? The Electoral College is based on the number of Reps plus 2 votes for the Senators. The number of US Reps are determined by the number of districts there are in each state and the number of districts can change at any time, although they usually wait until a census has been preformed (which is like every 10 years).

    The Electoral College was established as a compromise because half the founding fathers wanted Congress to decide the Presidency and the other half wanted the popular vote to decide.

  92. October 1, 2008 at 16:11

    Jon Kiparsky,

    There were a couple of them. “trick” might be too strong of a word. But, questions designed to show that the person actually grasps the basics of how the structure is set up. The “term limits” might confuse some people when it comes to the Supreme Court for example. Is that a trick? I guess.

    I re-read the post and the grammar is awful. My only defense is that most of the time i am post here either as my 18 m.o. is occupied for the moment or as I am getting a phone call from somebody who is telling me of an issue that they feel is of “the utmost importance to security or safety.” It almost never is.

    The point of the post was about people judging candidates by criteria that had nothing to do with the job. In a way pointing out the grammatical exemplifies the point.

  93. 93 Peter Gizzi UK
    October 1, 2008 at 16:13

    Jon Kiparsky.

    Thanks for you comments, very interesting. I simply meant there are places in the world where people do not have a choice. This is not the plave to discuss that further.

    The X gets a mention. My grand Mother was illiterate but was able to put her X on her marriage certificate. Illiterate people can vote and our voting forms usually include a picture.

  94. 94 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 16:20

    The electoral college is a straw man. There has not been an election in the United States where the electoral college has contradicted the wishes of a clear majority, and if anyone wants to argue that the electoral college is an anti-democratic institution, I’d ask them to show me a case in which a clear majority of voters, counting absolute majority of total US voters, vote for candidate A, while candidate B gets 50% +1 of the electoral college, or even an electoral college tie and a win in the house.
    The argument in the 2000 election is not an argument that one side or another had a clear absolute majority of voters, everyone concedes that the numbers are so close that in a straight majority election we would have spent the next eight years in court suing over the vote totals from Pocatello to Punxutawney. The argument in 2000 was over which side got the most electoral votes, and that argument was one by a ludicrously bad decision from the Supreme Court. That’s another story, though – the electoral college system wasn’t the problem there, and eliminating it would simply have reproduced the disaster in Florida in every state plus the District of Columbia.

  95. October 1, 2008 at 16:20

    @ Will,
    It’s up to the individuals to choose who to vote for.
    Concerning your idea that “You can scribble a drawing of a cat on a ballot – write some expletive if you want. “ this what happened in legislative elections in Morocco in September 2007. Only 37% of the voters “bothered” to go to the polling stations. 25% of the votes cast were annulled because many of those who voted scribbled on the ballot papers to ridicule the elections. The current prime minister’s party which came first had only 500,000 votes when the people expected to vote were 13 million.

    In Morocco, people had their reason not to vote because they lost faith in political parties whose aim was self-interest and not public interest. For them, parties differ just in names, but fundamentally they are the same. Too many speeches and promises but little action to prove they can be a potent force to make real change.

  96. 96 gary
    October 1, 2008 at 16:20

    Voting by personal choice indicates great personal freedom. Mandatory voting requirements ( They can be mandatory is various ways.) indicate little personal freedom is available. The curious thing (Some might say humorous.) is; the former environment may easily become the latter if citizens neglect to make this simple personal choice. The conclusion is simple, if harsh: Voting should not be mandatory, precisely so that lazy and apathetic voters loose those freedoms they take for granted. How else may they learn?

  97. 97 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 16:26

    Technically if you compare the number of Electoral Votes to the est. population of each state, a candidate could win 282 Electoral votes with a popular vote of less than 60,000,000 out of an est. 299,000,000 total population of the US. Granted those numbers are the total est. populations as of 2006 but if you where to count legal voters 18+ years old the proportion would still be similar.

    Is that really fair?

  98. 98 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 16:33

    Dwight- the trick that jumped out at me the most was the one about the “definition of an earmark”. Of course, there is no such entity in any US legal framework, so it is not defined in any singular way. It’s a term used to refer to a mechanism of funding whereby a legislator designates a certain amount of money for a particular project in order to provide economic advantage for some constituent or constituents, but it appears in no legal document and the “earmark” does not exist in US law any more than the “Mae West hold” does.

    But on your broader point, we agree that allowing or disallowing suffrage based on grammatical standards would be a perversion of any permissible standard of democracy. What I’m saying is that the sort of standards you suggested in your pocket civics test are equally open to perversion by the party in power – see the civics tests applied in the American South, where a white man might be asked to name the First Amendment and a black man to recite from memory Article II, section 3 of the Constitution.

  99. 99 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 16:40

    @ Lauren

    It’s meant to keep the country together. If big states got their way by using a popular vote, smaller states will be angry and probably might secede from the Union. That’s not a good thing especially when precedent means fighting a war to keep the country together.

  100. 100 Jon Kiparsky
    October 1, 2008 at 16:42

    Lauren – as long as the electoral total agrees with the absolute total, I don’t see how one is more or less fair than the other. That a candidate can be elected by a minority of the population is a)nothing new b)not a consequence of the electoral college and c) easily remedied, if that were desired, by requiring a minimum turnout, a quorum, for an election to be valid. That issue is totally irrelevant to the question of whether the electoral college has ever or could ever distort an election that would have been decisively won in the case of straight majority voting. I say no, never has and there is no conceivable way that it could.

  101. 101 Anthony
    October 1, 2008 at 16:44

    @ steve

    Come on. They don’t have the electoral vote system to keep smaller states from seceding. That’s ridiculous.

    The popular vote would be a much better way to elect a president, but then how could you screw with the elections? The electoral vote way means that lawyers can choose the President of the U.S. 🙂

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  102. 102 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 16:45

    @ steve

    It wouldn’t be pitting big states against small states– it’s strictly numbers. If more people voted for one candidate, he/she wins, regardless of the number of people who voted for him/her in California. Why would you think that smaller states would be angry about that?

  103. 103 steve/oregon
    October 1, 2008 at 16:49

    I have considered this issue before and thought it should be compulsary…. until i talked to a few of my friends and realized they are more concerned with the next time there favorite band is coming to town as opposed to the next time a political canidate is coming and half the time don’t even know what the issues are

  104. October 1, 2008 at 16:53

    In some countries people aren’t forced to vote but they are bribed by candidates to vote for them. The one who can give more money is the most likely to win. In such a case elections become just a sham. People cast their vote out of “gratitude” for the “generosity” of the candidate and not because of a plan to serve them.

    Elections can have credibility if they are carried out transparently and aren’t like a carnival season in which there are parades, dances and banquets or at worst, they are periods of violence. The most violent and intimidating party secures the winning votes.

    In such a case, abstaining from voting is a way to stay clean and not to be embroiled in a corrupt system that legitimises its victory through mean methods that make fool of those who put their trust in the candidates only to find that they were used by them to secure a comfortable post at the expense of the deprived.

  105. 105 steve/oregon
    October 1, 2008 at 16:53

    @ lauren the electoral college is a good thing becuase something like 60% of americas population lives in large cities. canidates would only go to those cities and never address issues people is small cities have the “trail” would look some thing like canidate X is in NYC this week next week Boston then LA, LV, Portland etc etc all the while the people who live in wisconsin would never even get to see the canidates let alone get there issues addressed

    Thoug i would be for a reform that allows each district to assign its votes to each canidate as opposed to states, cause if we had this system Gore woulda won

  106. 106 GretchenDawntreader
    October 1, 2008 at 16:56

    I think voting should be compulsory as long as each election has “none of the above” as a choice, and if the winner doesn’t get enough votes they have to redo the darned thing, hold a runoff, present new candidates, whatever.

    That way it doesn’t force people to choose…

    However, it is appalling in the US that for all the bluster about democracy, only about 30% of the people even bother to show up. It’s one of the responsibilities that come along with the rights, remember back in civics class…

  107. 107 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 17:19

    @ steve/oregon

    It could also be that the candidates would no longer focus on states with the bigger electoral count because they would need to focus on people of all states and walks of life, not just those in big cities.

    @ jon

    There have been instances in US history where a candidate won by electoral vote, not popular vote. In theory, if only one person voted in California, their candidate of choice would still win 55 electoral votes and if the same thing happened in the right combination of states, a candidate could win the election with as little as 12 votes. I know its an extreme, probably impossible situation, but as far as I know, there’s no law stating that a minimum number of people need to vote in order for electoral votes to be awarded.

  108. 108 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 17:20

    well, i come originally from the second best democracy in the world, switzerland. we have fairly complex voting system, whereby a referendum for example needs to be accpted by both the majority vote and the majority of the cantons (equivalent of states). this insures that little cantons are not railroaded by large ones. in addition the excutive (consisting of 7 people) is voted for my the parliament. nevertheless, the %-population voting is regukarly way below 50%.

  109. 109 Jennifer
    October 1, 2008 at 17:21

    Here in Canada our last election brought out 64% of the population, I think what people find frustrating is that here on the West Coast (Vancouver etc.) our votes don’t make a difference, it only comes down to how Quebec or Toronto cast their vote that will determine our new Prime Minister. I think that has become a big thing with voters: Do our votes really make a difference? I for one will continue to vote and i would agree with mandatory voting rules being put in place. Everyone should have the chance to participate in how the country is being run. At the end of the day it does effect everyone.

  110. 110 Steve
    October 1, 2008 at 17:27

    Living in a democracy is a wonderful privelage even today. Many Western countries take it for granted which is a shame.

    People around the world die for the opportunity to cast a ballot and those who have been able to freely vote for decades, or centuries, feel as though it’s “no big deal”.

    I live in Canada and voter turnout in modern history ranges from 60-80% of eligible voters (http://www.elections.ca/content.asp?section=pas&document=turnout&lang=e&textonly=false) this is far from pathetic but far from ideal.

    If you want all the benefits of a free democracy it is your right – your duty – to vote. I have no problem with mandatory voting. In fact, I think it should be enforced. If you don’t want to vote – go somewhere that you can’t vote. See if you take it for granted then.

  111. 111 Todd in Charlotte
    October 1, 2008 at 17:35

    Let’s see…. given that jurors are pulled from registered voters, and given the “findings” of those juries. I would say we have enough sheople without a clue voting already without the need for a mandatory vote. And while I would love a series of tests that people had to take before certain “freedoms” were granted (knowledge of issues/candidates positions to vote, common sense/finance test to have children, driving simulation test for drivers license), there is just too much room for abuse in that kind of environment.

    Instead of making constituents vote, I think we should make candidates do something like “the moment of truth” before they get their party’s nomination. I would like a legitimate candidate I can vote for, instead of always have to vote against the “greater of the 2 evils.”

  112. 112 Alissa in AK
    October 1, 2008 at 17:45

    Though US residents 18 or older have the right to vote, in no way does it mean they are ready to. There are far too many people that are not educated enough about the candidates to consider any and they will watch a tv show or listen to other people’s opinons and just vote because they can and without understanding what they stand for. Its disgusting.

    I live in Alaska and have my whole life. Almost half of our population lives in rural communities-a lot of them don’t care to vote for a presidential candidate, some have no idea what is going on in the world and just vote because they can. Alaska is an amazing place and I used to pride myself from being from here, what an embarrassment Sarah is to us. Alaskans are well-traveled people who have better foreign experience than that twit, who has disgraced most Alaskans.

    This is what happens when stupid people vote. Maybe the freedom to vote isn’t such a good thing.

  113. 113 Dan
    October 1, 2008 at 17:48

    I guess that the simple fact that the Electoral College was created to give smaller States a voice and importance along with large states is irrelevant and secondary as long as a popular Rock Star candidate is elected.
    If it were as unnecessary as you believe don’t you think that it would have been eliminated long ago or perhaps never created at all.
    Maybe Al Gore has the key to the Electoral College in his “lock-box”.

  114. 114 Mike
    October 1, 2008 at 17:57

    I think if people had the choice of a none vote or none of the above vote turn out would not be an issue.

  115. 115 Natasha
    October 1, 2008 at 18:00

    That it is part of the ‘rights’ of democracy not to vote is a convenient excuse.

    Australia is an important example. We have collective understanding of the will of the people – not the will 30%. And there is always a sausage sizzle and face-painting at your local school on Election Day. Oh and we vote ON A WEEKEND.

    What does this mean though – it means that we need to look at education, at dissemination of information, at media, and at language and technological barriers to participation. It means we have to question what kind of ‘democracy’ we have when many of those that not voting are doing so because they are not informed or are ill-informed NOT because they make that choice.

  116. October 1, 2008 at 18:00

    Check under the couch for your meds…
    You describe the UK as a gullible and unsuspecting electorate….Should they be forced to vote?
    You describe Blair in all his arrogance and twisted truth…..Should people be forced to vote for him?
    The subject of forced voting implies that there are people who don’t vote and that there are others who are somehow frustrated with that.
    I think there is a tendency for disenfranchised people to fantasize about forcing the US to do this or that. We somehow embody all that has disenfranchised them emotionally, economically, and politically. I think a big part of Bush’s popularity is that the people who support him wanted to send the message that you aren’t going to force the United States to do anything. Fly a plane into a building and force a reaction and now how do we get that toothpaste back into the tube?
    You can yammer on about marines hitting the beach so you could vote, about god and country and how the rest of the world will think, but in the end it comes down to McBush and Obama? My civic burden comes down to choosing between a Big Mac and a Whopper? Neither of these guys has ever had a blister or could start a chainsaw or use a post hole digger. They don’t shop at Wal-Mart. And sadly, despite any rhetoric, they won’t really represent anybody who does.
    But all those American citizens get up and get it done. Yeah, they take the early bus. It isn’t even tied to economic status or struggle, just different priorities. All the hoo haw and political flatus just reminds them that the process should be avoided not propped up. I’m betting the Weapons of Mass Financial Crisis has very little bearing on their lives either.

  117. 117 Natasha
    October 1, 2008 at 18:07

    A quick additional thought – your question is biased by the use of the word ‘forced’. For example in Australia you are not forced to vote – in that you can choose not to vote and pay a nominal fine or you can spoil your ballot. Your question should be … “Should voting be compulsory”.

  118. 118 Count Iblis
    October 1, 2008 at 18:11

    People want to live in freedom and want to be able to determine who their rulers should be. Democracy, elections, voting etc. are a means to achieve that.

    Making it compulsory to vote is a form of State repression. It is infringing on the very freedoms of people the system is supposed to be all about. The argument that people died for the right to vote doesn’t make sense. That’s similar to Lenin saying that people died for social justice and now everyone is expected to be loyal to the Communist system.

    A system that is fundamantally about the freedom of people should only force people to do something if not doing so would endager that freedom. An example is the military draft. In many countries the military draft has been abolished but it was seen to be necessary to protect the State.

    Another example is that a judge can order someone to appear in court. This is then necessary to impose law and order in a society.

    But forcing people to vote is not neccesary to ensure the democratic system continues to function within acceptable norms. Therefore this measure is a form of repression.

  119. 119 Vijay
    October 1, 2008 at 18:12

    Some people aren’t able to comprehend the issues or may not have an opinion so why be cruel and coerce them into voting.
    What do propose fine non voters or put them in jail?
    In the UK who actually fought for the right to vote? apart from women It was handed down to you by your elders and betters in the House of Commons, Will .

  120. 120 Ken
    October 1, 2008 at 18:12

    If it is appropriate to compel citizens to pay taxes, it is utterly appropriate to require citizens to vote. Concerns about “non-voting being a form a political expression” can be resolved by voting “none of the above.”

    Apathy is not an ideology.

  121. 121 DAVID
    October 1, 2008 at 18:14

    the only thing more useless than a non-voter is an uninformed voter.
    cleveland, ohio usa

  122. 122 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 18:15

    So what kind of force should be used to drag people out of their homes to get them to the voting booth? Do we suspend the search warrant requirement? Or is it the arrest warrant requirement if you’re at home?? What other rights will we violate to enforce this right?

    I’ve said this multiple times now, the freedom of speech includes the freedom not the speak. The US supreme court would hold the same way when it comes to voting.

    Part of freedom is the freedom to not do things. This is why in the US we don’t lock up homeless people that are clearly insane. It’s against their will, so unless they are a threat to themselves or other people, nothing can be done because it would be against their will, and we believe in freedom. Freedom includes the right to NOT do things.

  123. 123 Craig
    October 1, 2008 at 18:16

    How about a two-tiered system in which voters get a tax break that non-voters would not?

  124. 124 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 18:16

    @ Dan

    Unfortunately, I don’t believe our government is capable of performing a complete overhaul.

    What I don’t understand is why the term “Rock Star candidate” is being thrown around? What makes Californians or New Yorker’s any more qualified to decide who becomes president than the people in Arizona, or Minnesota? It’s almost like you’re saying that the more people vote for a person, the less qualified that person is.
    It is our right as US citizens to choose our leader, regardless of who they are– the government exists for the people, not the other way around. There are people who will choose a leader for their charisma just as there are those who will choose a leader for their beliefs/policies etc. To say that the population will always choose the celebrity candidate is an insult to everyones intelligence, including yours and mine.

  125. 125 Frederick
    October 1, 2008 at 18:17

    Forcing anyone to vote nullifies, in my opinion, the essence of the vote. Such a measure is acceptable only in a state where democracy exists as a shadow. A citizen must understand the value of the vote before exercising that right. Universal suffrage should not mean vote even if you do not understand what you are voting for. I believe that whenever people understand (and accept) the role of the vote in their society, people will vote without the need for compulsion.

  126. 126 Rutger Theune
    October 1, 2008 at 18:18

    Forcing people to vote will eventually result in people disengaging from politics. Politicians do not need to put as much emphasis on engaging the public.

    There is no doubt that the right to vote is an immensely impportant right to have. HOwever, you can not confuse this with with then making people vote.

  127. 127 Miriam Kavanagh
    October 1, 2008 at 18:18

    If we live in a democracy then forcing people to vote would be counter productive to that societal ideal. We shouldn’t focus on requiring people to vote, we should focus on educating people how to vote, where their polling station is, how to get registered, what to do if they can’t vote on election day. Voting isn’t a privilege or a duty, it’s an opportunity to make your community, your country, your world a better place.

    Miriam Kavanagh

  128. 128 Count Iblis
    October 1, 2008 at 18:19


    For example in Australia you are not forced to vote – in that you can choose not to vote and pay a nominal fine or you can spoil your ballot.

    I still find that unacceptable. If the government finds it so important that people vote, then they should instead reward people for voting. So, instead of fining people for not voting, give people some money if they turn out to vote.

  129. 129 Lauren
    October 1, 2008 at 18:19

    @ Natasha

    Well said! 😉

  130. 130 R Machado
    October 1, 2008 at 18:21

    In Brazil, we are forced to vote. I’m Brazilian and I believe this is not democratic and increases corruption.

  131. 131 John Ohler
    October 1, 2008 at 18:22

    I don’t see why you would want to force voting. Those that don’t want to vote are not going to actually have spent time knowing the issues or the politicians. Instead you will just have a large segment of population that votes in ignorance. It makes the point that politicians only have to be memerable.

  132. 132 Sudarsana R Chilakala
    October 1, 2008 at 18:22

    The voting to be made compulsary, I was born and brought up in India (largest democracy, where voting percent is more than USa even though most of the illetarate) and now citizen of Singapore 9Where voting is compulsary), for the last three years working in USA. I had seen the last congress elections and now i am going through the Presidential election for the first time in USA.

    I am surprised to see the country well informed and with democratic value systems, elect their leaders with bare minimum of 40-55% of poling, may the US citizens exercise their freedom to vote or not, but important point to note is “The american citizens not only electing their leaders but thei decision make lot of difference in this world, In fact their selection of their leader would effect the lives of the people if not exaggerating, this is fact.

    Infact I was looking for this kind of program for quite some time, to pass on the message taht ‘The American citizens vote is important for the benefit of many other countries’. I am glad that today BBC is braod casting this program.

  133. 133 Alexander
    October 1, 2008 at 18:22

    Election Day should be a national holiday, so that people have less to get in the way of voting.
    I dispute that a ‘voluntary electorate’ means that only informed voters will vote, in 2000 people said they voted for George W. Bush because he seemed like someone they could have a beer with, even though Bush doesn’t drink anymore.

    Cleveland, Ohio
    listen on WCPN

  134. 134 R Machado
    October 1, 2008 at 18:23

    For example in Australia you are not forced to vote – in that you can choose not to vote and pay a nominal fine or you can spoil your ballot.

    This is the same for Brazil. I also think that this is totally unacceptable.

  135. 135 Sauron K.
    October 1, 2008 at 18:23

    If you are forced to vote, it is no longer a right. We should not be forced. To do so would be far more destructive, and would take away our freedom to choose, and that is a big part of what America is all about, the freedom to choose.

  136. 136 Ryan
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    I think that everyone in a democracy has a right to vote, but I also think that the non-vote should be counted and elevated into the conversation. It should be reallized by the public that the President who wins with 51% when only 40% of the voting public goes to the polls, the actual vote count for the candidate is 20.4% Perhaps even grant some limits of power when a majority withold the vote.

  137. 137 John in Salem
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    Here’s an idea~ In Oregon we have a law concerning ballot measures that stipulates that a certain minimum of people have to vote and if that number is not reached the measure automatically fails.
    So let’s do it for public office. If less than, say, 50% of registered voters fail to vote, the election is held again, with the Speaker of the House doing the job until a president is chosen.

  138. 138 Don in Portland OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    Time for a reality check. In the U.S., the Republican party has a long history of trying to suppress voter turn out within black and poor communities. In fact, this year many state legislatures controlled by Republicans have passed some of the most egregious laws. There is no way the Republican party will allow mandatory voting in the US.

  139. 139 rachel
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    What about religions that do not believe in voting? Can the US force people to do something against their religion?
    This sort of thing will not work in the United States.

    Cleveland, OH

  140. 140 Gary
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    Administrative costs? Making a statement by not voting?
    That’s not the problem with forcing people to vote. From a U.S. perspective (I don’t claim this to be true elsewhere), the problem with compulsory voting is the voters! Many Americans are ignorant and lazy, and while either alone coild be overcome to make an informed vote, the combination is frightening. The last thing I want is half of the U.S. voting for the first name on the ballot or the name with the least syllables.

  141. 141 Greg
    October 1, 2008 at 18:24

    In Cleveland Ohio

    Here in the United States we have a Bill of Rights not obligations. Lets keep it that way.

  142. October 1, 2008 at 18:25


    I completely agree. I at least alone, would not want to be the sole contributor to the test. There are many questions that I would like asked and people would point out they are either partisan or bigoted.

    What there should be is a baseline, basic knowledge test. Maybe 5 questions that people can prove they understand more then just the marketing slogan of the day. I would even advocate free classes. Bluntly, I could care less if you are voting for and issue I am against. What does matter is that people prove they are not voting for somebody just because the speak lies eloquently and deliver a message of fear. This seems to me to be the main reason we have such unqualified and confusing people in our upper levels of government.

    One thing or the other has to happen. We either have to make sure the politicians are better educated or the voters are. I would be nice of both were, but that is asking much I think.

  143. 143 Natasha
    October 1, 2008 at 18:25

    When you can tell me that all people that don’t vote in the US do so as a political statement I’ll believe that voting should not be compulsory.

    Interesting that the first thing you think of is the kind of force your government woud use against those that dont vote if it was compulsory.

    No force necessary in Australia … bake sales yes … search warrants no.

  144. 144 Natalie
    October 1, 2008 at 18:25

    There are measures that could increase voter participation in the U.S. that do not require making voting mandatory. Changing election day to the weekend, as done in many countries, would imcrease voter participation. Voting on Satuday rather than Tuesday would be a major step. We still use a system developed when the U.S. was an agricultural county and Tuesday was as good as Saturday. Not so in our current industrial and service economy.

    We have also cut from many of our educational systems the teaching of civics and subjects related to the understanding of how a democracy functions. Education is fundamental to democracy.

  145. October 1, 2008 at 18:26

    The quickest way to make an American do anything is to tell them they are not allowed.

  146. 146 Lisa from Silicon Valley, CA
    October 1, 2008 at 18:28

    I do not think people should be forced to vote. I am a swing voter right now. I do not know who I want to vote for. I believe that you should not settle for someone, just to vote. I am extremely involved in the community, and feel like my civic duty gets somewhat fulfilled though my charity work, my children’s school, etc.

    I think it will be interesting to see how many people go to the polls this election; being that it is one of the most historic ones of my time. I think the question we need to ask (in the United States) is ‘What would happen if NOBODY went to the polls?’

  147. October 1, 2008 at 18:28

    The question is not whether it would be a good idea if everyone voted. The question is whether or not it is justifiable to force people to vote at the point of a gun. In the end, the way a society enforces its laws is at gunpoint. If you ignore all the fines and court orders and all of that, eventually they come, armed, to take you away, or take away your property, or whatever.

    So, all the people that are arguing how great it is if everyone votes–that’s absolutely not the question you should be asking. It would be great if everyone was kind to each other, if everyone shared, if everyone ate healthy foods. But should we use the force of government to make them do that?

    Freedom of the press–should everyone be forced to have a press? Should we force everyone to use their freedom of speech? Line them up, point a gun at them, and say “say something political, or you will be arrested?”

    What if a journalist at a newspaper felt that, in order to be strictly objective, he had to abstain from voting? Soldiers often observe this kind of principled separation. And you want to make that illegal?

    A government should secure our liberties, not take them from us. That is all it should ever do. The fact that so many of you are willing to use government force to make someone express themselves politically scares me, but it unfortunately does not surprise me. You see a problem, people aren’t voting, you reach for government force to fix it. You see a problem, some people don’t have health insurance, you reach for government force to fix it. It’s an easy solution that you can feel all righteous about, but what you’ve done is immoral and ends up causing more problems in the end.

  148. 148 Andrea
    October 1, 2008 at 18:28

    I live in Portland Oregon, USA and we vote by mail here. You get your ballot and pamphlet in the mail about two weeks before election day, you can complete it at your leisure and drop it in the mail, or take it to free drop-of sites located around the city. We don’t have 100% turnout, and forcing people to vote, even with our voting system, wouldn’t achieve any sort of deeper democracy.

  149. 149 James
    October 1, 2008 at 18:28

    I’m a second year at Monash University in Australia and I find it ridiculous that the government enforces compulsory voting. I believe it is a duty for citizens of a democratic society to vote, however as I look around most other students who have just come out of high school and I can’t possibly imagine them deciding leaders, while being fully informed. I’ve studied in the US for my high school years and the problem has always been apathy, in both Australia and the US. The governments should encourage and compel citizens to choose but there is no point trying to make someone who doesn’t care cast a vote. It’s ridiculous.

    If anything, it should be up to the candidates or whatever political parties who are seeking the votes to inspire people to go to the ballot. If they can’t inspire people to get behind them to put a check by their names, then they don’t really deserve to be in power. After all, isn’t the ability to inspire something we look for in our leaders?

  150. 150 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 18:29

    @ Don

    Just so you know, the south was full of Democrats. The democratic party was behind segregation and all that stuff. The parties made a switch in the 1960s.


    Make sure you know what you’re talking about before you speak.

  151. 151 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 18:30


    while i agree with your assesment, i will be knocking at you door and drag you down to the polling station…. 😉

  152. 152 Will Paine
    October 1, 2008 at 18:31

    Can’t understand people who confuse the valuable and hard-won right to vote with the need to enforce ballot casting. Plus there are also many people who are aware that they don’t understand many complexities, for instance economics, and also many people who are split on many issues, which means they resent being forced to come down on one side or another. These people should be allowed to sit it out.

    Will Paine,

  153. 153 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 18:33


    which religion prohibits you to vote. and what the heck has good to do with politics?


  154. 154 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 18:33

    @ Jens

    I’ve posted on here multiple times about my guns. heheh.

  155. 155 SANDY
    October 1, 2008 at 18:33

    In America being we not forced to vote but we are also not voting according to the law. People need to read the constitution (the 12 admendment) and realize we are not permitted to vote the way the founding fathers designed.

  156. 156 Ignacio Ewert
    October 1, 2008 at 18:33

    Hello. I´m from Buenos Aires, Arentina. I´m totally against compulsory voting because it doesn´t improve the quality of democracy at all. At least in Arentina compulsory vote it has been used for decades by politicians to validate this facade of democracy.

  157. October 1, 2008 at 18:34

    First of all, the right to vote was acquired by ou forefathers or even older generations and sometimes it was difficult (revolutions, civil wars…). As we celebrate some historic dates such as the End of WWII (for example), it would be necessary not to forget that we should honour those fights by voting.
    How can we oblige people to vote : well if they don’t sign up when voting, it means that they are not interested and they could be fined (a symbolic 1 euro or 1 pound which would be given to associations); If they are sick there should be no penalty or if they are away they could vote by mail or email.
    Now this thought of penalty is not democratic is it ?
    So why not use electronic votes through a mobile phone (which almost everyone has…) ?
    There are so many different ways ok making the voting act pleasant…
    I believe that because it is compulsory to pay taxes, it should also be compulsory to vote.
    But to make people vote, things have to be simple, easy and fast. Elections in America are so complicated, you have to wait for days or weeks to knoxw the future Président. Why should people care ?
    People vote because they believe that they can change things. If the system is biased, complicated or worse corrupted they stay at home.
    Last point, I wanted to stress; if people are lazy to vote, it is also because they don’t feel concerned by politics and that is because political leaders are not charismatic again !

  158. October 1, 2008 at 18:35

    Jmaes B. Tinsley, B.A.
    Fort Smith, Arkansas-USA

    In a free society no citizen should be forced to do anything that does not harm the person or property of another non-consenting citizen. As for voting, it is a right, responsibility and privilege, but should not be compulsary.
    I believe that in the United States the real issue is voter suppression. To remedy this requires two things. First, as soon as a “live” birth is registered in a localality that information should be directed to the social security department and a social security number and voter resgistration for all federal elections issued in the new-born child’s name with documentation sent to the state of residence and parent(s).
    Second, all citizens must be “properly” educated throughout their life to understand that participation is the “grease” of democracy and every citizen must participate to keep democracy’s machinery working properly.
    Besides all this, I have been told for my entire life if you do not vote you cannot complain (bitch)
    James B. Tinsley, B.A. USA

  159. October 1, 2008 at 18:35

    i think there is some merit in assuming that requiring citizens to vote will force them to become more informed on the issues affecting their country. But what are the financial implications of this? How much work/money is involved in deciding and executing the penalties for this?

  160. 160 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 18:37


    i am bullet proof……..plus a wee bit taller than you, plus i am scared of my left arm and need a conceadled weapons licence for my right arm…. i’ll be there 😉

  161. 161 Thomas Goheen
    October 1, 2008 at 18:37

    voting should never be forced. It should always be the free choice of the individual. If officials want to encourage voting it should be by offering a tax credit to all who vote. This gives positive encouragement and not motivation by fear.

  162. 162 Vijay
    October 1, 2008 at 18:38

    It isn’t about apathy ,save the planet ,don’t vote if don’t feel like it, none of the above as an option is a waste of fossil fuel,all those unecessary journeys to the polling booth are contributing to man made global warming .Taxes are different .

  163. 163 Donald
    October 1, 2008 at 18:38

    Just a couple of comments about one effect of compulsory voting in Australia – one is you just have to go and put your voting papers in the ballot box – you don’t have to fill them out – they can be blank if you want, so the option of “not voting” in a way still exists, despite so-called compulsory voting. But it has to be an active choice.

    Deliberate informal voting is technically a breach of the Electoral Act, but it is impossible to identify and penalise an offender without violating the secrecy of the ballot. It has become an offence to advocate or promote informal voting. The number of informal votes is recorded, but they are not counted as part of the total number of votes cast. Around 95% of registered voters attend polling, and around 5% of Representatives votes are informal.

    And there has to be a lottery to decide the order the candidates appear on the ballot papers – Australia uses a preferential system where the voter has to rank candidates in order – because some people are known to put numbers from top to bottom – one two three etc – in the order the candidates appear on the papers – this is called the “donkey vote”,



  164. 164 Jessica in NYC
    October 1, 2008 at 18:38

    The problem for me in requiring compulsory voting in the US is that it does not mean the government will be representatives of all it’s constituents. Furthermore do we REALLY want people to vote who don’t know the names of their own senator or the president of the USA. Have you ever seen, segments on the Tonight Show called “The All Star Jay Walkers”? They don’t know who Bush or Clinton are? Forget pointing to Russia on the map, they think Hungry is ONLY something you feel before lunch? They can’t find Washington DC on the map… it’s an embarrassment.

  165. 165 Russell
    October 1, 2008 at 18:38

    In Beaverton, Oregon.

    I’m not in favour of compulsory voting, however I would not mind some screening level to gain the right to vote. We have a lot of people who make their decisions based on emotions or based on what they think of a single issue. Wouldn’t it be better to have people voting on how we govern ourselves that have shown some level of understanding of the connectedness of nations and issues? People who have spent the time to educate themselves on issues and/or done some level of service on behalf of others begin to understand that things do not exist in isolation. In Robert Heinlein’s novel “Starship Troopers” it is only through service that the right to vote (“franchise”) is earned. While I don’t think such service has to be military in nature, the idea that the right to vote is earned and then treated as a responsibility does have some merit. Once earned and understood then the choice not to vote is, in fact, it’s own type of vote.

  166. 166 JB
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    I used to think that everyone should vote, that it is our duty as citizens. Now, after seeing how ignorant many people are on the issues and candidates, I fully believe that only those who are aware and knowledgeable should be able to vote. If they don’t care enough to vote, they probably don’t know what the issues are and therefore should not vote.

  167. 167 Chris
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    In recent polling in America, it seems that faith free elections has been curtailed by “derelict” shenanigans that exploited loopholes in the the systems. No one was brought to justice in these instances. So to talk about legal sanctions against non-voters seems a bit of a moot point.

  168. 168 Jonas Tobias
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    I can’t understand people’s views on this subject. Voting is about good citizenship. Voting is about being responsible. We talking about asking adult citizens to participate in perhaps the single most critical process in our society. So to say that citizens are forced to pay for our system (taxes), but shouldn’t be asked to vote is silly. Jail time for this is also a silly idea. A simple fine (100-200$) would do, with exceptions for the poor.

    The alternative to compulsory voting is educating our children in schools about what it means to be a good citizen (i.e. voting). Either can achieve good results, but one or the other should absolutely be implemented.

    San Francisco, USA

  169. 169 J.Hall
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    Voting is a substitute for War. It iss a product of Barbarian Cultore,
    It is based on the observation that if two armies are about to fight a battle, the larger army usually wins. So a headcount of the soldiers assembled willl suffice to determine the outcome, and everybody can go home to fight another day.

    Election rules shoul;d therefore parallel combat rules. Absentee ballots do not count in a battle, unless they represent military reserves, who can be called out later–like guardsmen, stationed in Iraq.

    Originally, voters were limited to Nobility — Armoured knights on horesback. Later, Yeomen were included later — archers, etc. Then Pesants –Pikemen, footsoldiers. Then Women –in 1918, after military mechanization, when brute strength meanr less. Then 18 year olds, when they bore the brunt of the fighting in Viet Nam.

    Any trick used to recruit soldiers should be legal to induce voters. Bribes, threats, music, costumes,huge rallies, and grassroot recruiting. However, cheating, like double registration, fictitious voters, etc, should be illegal, since fictitious soldiers do not win battles.

    Compulsory voting is like Conscription–You get a lot of soldiers that way, but how will they perform in battle? Will they strengthen you, or simply cause congusion and chaos?

    Rember, if election results are not transparent and credible, then the aggrieved part will have but one choice — actual battle. And the larger army will probably win.l

  170. 170 Julie P
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39


    Yes, southern Democrats were also known as “Dixiecrats” and were nothing like their counterparts in the rest of the country. When LBJ signed the the Civil Rights act of 1964 he knew he would hand the the south lost the south for the Democrats. In 1968 the south was won by carried by George Wallace. Today, in the south, southern Republicans aren’t much like thier counterparts in the rest of the country. Living in a city where there are a lot of Rebpulicans, the influx of Republicans from other parts of the country has strongly influenced the Republican party here. In short, the south is another type of polical animal.


  171. 171 Jessica in NYC
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    @ Dwight From Cleveland

    “The quickest way to make an American do anything is to tell them they are not allowed.”

    You are absolutely right.

  172. 172 Sauron K.
    October 1, 2008 at 18:39

    I have chosen not to vote in the past because I felt that I did not know enough of either candidate to comfortably vote for either one. Some people might simply be unsure on who to vote for, or perhaps they are indeed choosing not to vote because they like neither one. It is a part of our basic freedom of expression. You can’t force it, but you can encourage it. Teach the people why it’s so important. I understand now why it is because I have been better educated about the political system in the last few years.

  173. 173 Jiri Cap
    October 1, 2008 at 18:40

    I think it would be a better idea to reward people who vote instead of pushing them to vote and punish them if they don’t. Citizen who votes is better citizen than the one who doesn’t. So it makes sense to reward the good citizens for example by tax cuts or similar monetary advantage.

  174. 174 Anthony
    October 1, 2008 at 18:41

    You can make a retarded/brain damaged person vote, but it doesn’t mean they will make a decision based on anything at all.

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  175. 175 rupert
    October 1, 2008 at 18:42

    last time I voted in switzerland it was against the privatization of the supply of elecricity… now, two or three years later we are heading for privatization although the people voted against it…in my opinion, the lobbies always will get their way no matter how you vote

  176. 176 Amanda in Portland,OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:42

    I heard someone propose a test before allowing people to vote.

    Mississippi tried that once:

    1890–Mississippi adopts a literacy test to keep African Americans from voting. Numerous other states—not just in the south—also establish literacy tests. However, the tests also exclude many whites from voting. To get around this, states add grandfather clauses that allow those who could vote before 1870, or their descendants, to vote regardless of literacy or tax qualifications.

    Tests smack of potential for corruption and exclusion from a fundamental democratic right. Ludicrous.

    As far as compulsion goes, force the apathetic to vote, and they will vote apathetically. Besides, consider the terrible administrative addition to an already inefficient process.

    I wish that an Australian would come on the air against compulsory voting–I know they exist, I’ve met them.

  177. 177 Noel Callow
    October 1, 2008 at 18:42

    Here in Australia we have so-called compulsory voting; but in fact what is compulsory is to attend a polling booth and have your name marked off on the electoral roll. What you do with the ballot paper is up to you. You can walk out with it and put it in the rubbish bin or simply do an invalid vote..

    Personally I think that it should not be compulsory as there is always a large -what we call- the “donkey vote”.

  178. 178 Don in Portland OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:43

    @ Steve

    The south switched their allegiance to the Republican party when President Johnson and the Democratic party passed the voting rights act in the 1960’s. Do a search on “voter suppression” in any major news paper in the U.S. and you will find multiple articles siting instances what I have said.

  179. 179 Tom D Ford
    October 1, 2008 at 18:44

    You’re broadcasting from a Belfry? Are there bats in your Belfry?

  180. 180 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 18:45

    @ jess,

    well, i have this secret elitist streak in me , weher a believe there should be an IQ-test before people are allowed to enter voting booth. the problem with this is how do you asses the IQ and whom do entrust with doing so? on the simple basis of that everybody should be allowed to vote, however backwards and waywards their opinion may be. maybe they are truely happ with thier lives and it is poor saps like us who thrive for the betterment of mankind that are dillusional. who knows?

    you cannot enforce either intelligence nor knoweladge on people…….

  181. 181 Timothy
    October 1, 2008 at 18:45

    ZK (Singapore) notes ” . . . if the people forced to vote have no idea who they’re voting for and decide to randomly tick a box, we could end up with unsavoury surprises.”

    I think you might be surprised at how many people who DO vote, when faced with a great number of people to vote for, either randomly check a box depending the familiarity of a name – say, ethnically (eg, the Irish and Italian are quite active in Cleveland, Ohio). I’m very happy that starting this year in Cleveland we can vote by absentee ballot for *any reason whatsoever* which makes research on candidates much easier and also can drastically reduce the amount of time other voters have to stand in line.

  182. 182 Amanda in Portland,OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:46

    Please air a caller who will expound on the “donkey vote” sentiment in Australia mentioned above.

  183. 183 Karen Seawell
    October 1, 2008 at 18:47

    Voting should not be compulsory in a democracy. There is choice to opt in as well as opt out. There are entire segments of the population that live here that have opted out – the Amish, the Quakers, etc. If one wants change badly enough, it will be motivation to bring them to vote, congregate, etc. Compulsory voting would however open, what could become a booming black market, where votes could be sold by those without conviction at the polls. Another caller made a very valid point as well regarding the administrative costs of enforcing a compulsory vote – nightmarish and wasteful.

    Let those with conviction do the voting

  184. 184 Jens
    October 1, 2008 at 18:48

    @ rupert,

    you are the classic swiss. “LAST TIME i voted 2-3 years ago”

    swizterland votes 4 times a year, that means you missed 12 times the chance to voice your opinion….i am sure there must have been plenty of other interesting and important topics….i do remeber some….

  185. 185 brian miller
    October 1, 2008 at 18:48

    Voting should be required with the penalty for not voting being a small fine and no criminal reprecussions. In order to preserve democracy, there needs to an optional “no confidence” vote, so that these votes can be counted. In this way we could begin to actually put a number and a voice to those who who do not feel they are represented. I am US citizen and I have lived here my entire life. Our voluntary system is very broken and we need to involve the entire country, which is not happening at this time.

  186. 186 Laura Hydn
    October 1, 2008 at 18:49

    Ask the Americans about the electoral college.

  187. 187 steve
    October 1, 2008 at 18:49

    @ Don

    I know that and I said it in my post. But the thing is more time has gone by since 1865 to the 1960s then from the 1960s to 2008. The democrats passed racists laws for a much longer time, yet you singled out the republicans. Remember, all of those jim crow laws were the result of democrats.

  188. 188 Emily in London
    October 1, 2008 at 18:49

    I am from Australia, where voting is compulsory. However, voting FOR someone is not compulsory – turning up is compulsory. You then can make an active decision to vote for no-one (i.e. turn in an empty ballot, or write a political statement of dissent) if you want, but you at least make an active decision – not a passive apathetic decision, like many people who don’t turn up. It also forces governments to make voting more accessible – voting booths need to be easily available for everyone. I think it is a very good thing for democracy.

  189. 189 Natasha
    October 1, 2008 at 18:50

    Hooray Noel!

    Thank you – very nicely said.

    Pop down to your local school on Sunday and dont vote … maybe have a hot dog and buy a cake to support your local school.

    BTW – it’s a $20 fine in Oz .. but it’s quite easy to contest (I didnt vote once and just told them I was unable to get to my voting location).

    I love that the Americans think they have the model of democracy. Don’t pay taxes if you believe in non-compulsory voting … put your money ($700 billion!) where your mouths are!

  190. 190 debbie in Cleveland
    October 1, 2008 at 18:50

    I am sorry but not voting is not a form of protesting because you are lumped in with those who are to lazy to vote. One needs to go and sign in to vote and then not cast one there at the poling place. Can you imagine if millions of people went, signed in, and didn’t cast a vote means none of the candidates or issues are qualifed of the job/postion……or claim a mandate.

  191. 191 Don from US
    October 1, 2008 at 18:51

    One of your participants from the US correctly pointed out that the fundamental relationship is to what extent the citizen vote or influence of the corporate, lobbyist or wealthy drive democracy. It is time for countries who profess to be democracies to utilize the available technology to decide a large portion of issues through referendum votes. Only then can we achieve a balance between the will of the people and the necessary influence of leaders and experts. What we have today in most democracies is wonderful theater that distracts the absurd level of influence of the wealthy Witness the new capitalism that has been proposed where gains are privatized but losses are passed to the taxpayers.

  192. 192 Ulric
    October 1, 2008 at 18:51

    I see no problem with compulsory voting, as of course in this case you can always vote “blank” and so make your statement about how unhyappy you are with the system.
    At least compulsory voting makes you pay attention (and of course parties ALWAYS pay attention to your vote, because you can ALWAYS vote for another one or vote blank !!).


  193. 193 Kevin
    October 1, 2008 at 18:52

    In response to the comment that apathy is not a political statement, I would like to point out that in the republican form of democracy here in the states a electoral college and not a popular vote is what matters in a presidential election. In other words the popular vote has just as much official power as the Queen in the UK.

  194. 194 Ben
    October 1, 2008 at 18:52

    When you vote, you legitamise the government, you recognise it. I live in california, where it was a 15 year legal battle with the zoning department for an american indian, on his own land, to live in a tipi. Another issue with the zoning department- an intentional community- bulldozed for being ‘not to code’. No Obamma is changing the zoning department. It will require the overthrow of the government-

  195. 195 Jared Rogers
    October 1, 2008 at 18:52

    As someone on the air mentioned, people want to vote for an individual, not a party. Removing the overwhelming partisan influence from the electoral system as well as the media is the only way to fairly open an election. Ralph Nader has independently managed to be listed on 45 state ballots, yet remains blacked out in the debates and news coverage. How can citizens be expected to vote when all registered candidates are not represented fairly via corporate influence.

    Jared Rogers
    Newberg, Oregon

  196. 196 Mallary
    October 1, 2008 at 18:53

    Like it or not, some people just don’t want to vote and they shouldn’t have to, it is their choice and should remain their choice.

  197. 197 Jared Rogers
    October 1, 2008 at 18:53

    When discussing the idea of compulsory voting, what might the punishment for abstaining be? Why not, rather, reward voters by offering a small tax break to those who vote in local, state and federal elections?

    Jared Rogers
    Newberg, OR

  198. October 1, 2008 at 18:54

    To make voting mandatory is against the very core of democracy. Free-will and compulsion are complete opposites.


  199. October 1, 2008 at 18:54

    you should not, but you should be taught why it is important. AND IF U YOU DECIDE TO VOTE DONT VOTE FOR THE LESS OF TWO EVILS.VOTE FOR WHO U REALLY THINK SHOULD WIN, VOTE FOR RALPH NADER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  200. 200 Tom D Ford
    October 1, 2008 at 18:54

    Listening to you Transatlantic Network 2020 participants gives me optimism about the future.

    Good show WHYS and Transatlantic Network 2020 folks!

  201. 201 Dan
    October 1, 2008 at 18:54

    We already have too many people voting who do not understand the issues. Forcing people to vote would only make things worse. If anything, there should be a requirement that all voters comprehend the issues.

  202. 202 Jacob
    October 1, 2008 at 18:56

    Enfranchisement has always been limited, we don’t let children vote, we don’t let certain criminals vote, etc. Non compulsory voting is the perfect way to limit enfranchisement to citizens who care enough about their country to take a couple of hours out of their day and vote. If people don’t care enough to vote of their own volition, it would be unwise to put the future of a country in their hands. Low voter turnout is a non-issue. Let the people who care elect their representatives and guide their country.

  203. October 1, 2008 at 18:56

    To make voting mandatory against the very core of democracy. Free-will and compulsion are complete opposites.


  204. 204 Anthony
    October 1, 2008 at 18:57

    LOL @ george fernandez

    Ralph Nader. I can honestly say I would rather have McCain than that narcissistic ruiner of elections.

    “A vote for Nader is a vote for McCain.”

    -Anthony, LA, CA

  205. 205 Bertram
    October 1, 2008 at 18:57

    I think it’s ridiculous to discuss the vote issue because no matter what the election will go on and the machine keeps going. If you vote, you are contributing to the outcome of the election. If you do vote, even if your candidate does not win, a message is sent that this this what the people want and it can happen. If you don’t vote, you have no real right to complain about the victor or their policies. You taxes will go on, your bills will go on and your abstainance will fuel the political beast.

  206. 206 Don in Portland OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:57

    I haven’t been enthused about a presidential candidate for 40 years. Tell Cooper should make a choice between the lesser of two evils.

  207. 207 Holger
    October 1, 2008 at 18:58

    I live in the US and I believe that voting is a privilege. A privilege to be used or not. Finding information is directed by the news media. The debate on last friday was blah, but according to the news Obama won. It is really bad. The US news Media runs the campains and it is for the democates. The news media claims the republicans caused the finacial problems in the US. I believe the problem with this is with corpations. But the news media here says nothing about the world finacial problem. I believe on the ballets there should be none of the above.

  208. 208 Donald
    October 1, 2008 at 18:58

    As an Australian living in the states, San Francisco, I think voting SHOULD be compulsory here in the states. It is a civic duty, like jury duty.

    I once again note it is possible to put in a blank voting paper in Australia if you really don’t want to vote for anybody.

    AND the current fine for not voting in Australia is a mere $20 (maximum $100), with 21 days to pay it. Because of this small fine, there are some voters that refuse to vote, and merely pay the fine routinely after an election. The fine is not even routinely enforced, as it requires action by the DPP…..



  209. 209 Jessica in NYC
    October 1, 2008 at 18:58

    @ Cooper, the student at the University of Mississippi
    If you don’t vote then you have silenced your vote.

    @Then following speaker
    BROVO! People forget it’s a matter of which candidate BEST fits your interest, not you own person President. It’s the President of the whole country!

  210. 210 Jared Rogers
    October 1, 2008 at 18:59

    No its not me, me, me. But it is us. Obama and McCain’s policies fly in the face of what the majority of Americans want (single payer health care, out of Iraq now,two state Israeli Palestinian solution…). What’s a voter to do then?

  211. 211 Amanda in Portland,OR
    October 1, 2008 at 18:59

    This show works me the hell up. I’ve got to stop listening to it.

  212. 212 Sheri Dowley
    October 1, 2008 at 19:01

    In Oregon, USA, voting has become easier as we can vote by mail giving voters more time to think through the issues. I believe this is a safer system than faulty (or tampered with) voting machines. I also think there is disenfranchisement with voters because not every President that wins the popular vote actually wins the election. George W. Bush stole the election.

  213. October 1, 2008 at 19:01

    I don’t believe in compulsory voting, but I think it is naive to abstain on the premise that no candidate represents your views. There WILL be a winner – whether you vote or not – and that winner WILL be representing you whether you like it or not. So at the VERY LEAST, you should vote for the candidate you feel is the LESSER EVIL – who LEAST OFFENDS your viewpoint, because your NOT voting could effectively tally in favor of the candidate you hate the MOST.

    It’s just incredibly short shighte to NOT vote at all. It’s not like you’ll SHOW THEM A THING OR TWO. One of the candidates will have the last laugh. You may as well help select the one chuckling.

  214. 214 ernestweb
    October 1, 2008 at 19:03

    Some quotes by Henry David Thoreau in Civil Disobedience:

    “…the State never intentianally confronts a man’s sense, intellectual or moral, but only is body, his senses. It is not armed with superior wit or honesty, but with superior physical strengeth…”

    “Those who, while they dissapprove of the character and measures of a government, yield to it their allegiance and support, are undoubtedly its most conscientious supporters, and so frequently the most serious obstacle to reform.”

    “Cast your whole vote, not a strip of paper merley, but your whole influence. A minority is powerless while it conforms to the majority; it is not even a minority then, but it is irresistible when it clogs by it’s whole weight.”

  215. 215 rachel
    October 1, 2008 at 19:03

    I am not religious but i do know that Jehovah’s Witnesses will not participate in the voting process. It is against their religion. I myself believe in voting and do participate but as a democracy, the US cannot force people to vote.

  216. 216 Will in Berlin, Germany
    October 1, 2008 at 19:03

    Can’t understand people who confuse the valuable and hard-won right to vote with the need to enforce ballot casting. Plus there are also many people who are aware that they don’t understand many complexities, for instance economics, and also many people who are split on many issues, which means they resent being forced to come down on one side or another. These people should be allowed to sit it out.

  217. 217 Jim
    October 1, 2008 at 19:04

    What are the possible purposes of making voting mandatory? 1) To create “legitimacy” for the elected, or in other words to get “buy-in” from the citizens, 2) to make better policy choices. Your on-air guests aside, people who don’t vote tend to be among the least informed on political issues, and I submit will not add to the quality of the political debate. It is these undecided potential voters that so much of the attack ads in the U.S. are aimed at.
    Two years ago, I was urging a 30 year old to register and vote (he never had). He argued that he did not know enough about politics, and I protested. He said that he was very anti-George Bush, and since he understood Bush was a Democrat, he would vote Republican if he voted!
    This may be an extreme example, but it is only one of degree. Here in California, we have lengthy ballots and vote not only for President, but for rapid transit board of directors, judges, water utlity board of directors, and numerous other local positions about which most of us are clueless.
    On the other hand, people who are most informed about political issues are also the most partisan. Political activists are among the least likely to in fact “vote for the person, not the party”.
    I am not sure what the answer is, but spending >$1 billion on 10 and 20 second TV misleading TV ads does not seem like a good model.

  218. 218 Natasha
    October 1, 2008 at 19:05

    Interesting that the whole conversation has been about the ACTION of voting (walking into a polling station) not about the whole democratic process which must include community education and debate ensuring that all those that vote (because it should be compulsory) do so with knowledge.

    If we debate this in isolation we never get the root of the problem – that those that dont vote do so not because of some political protest but because they are not informed.

    Inform and engage citizens and then create a compulsory voting environment – I wonder if Obama or McCain would win? Ah well … we’ll never know.

  219. 219 James
    October 1, 2008 at 19:06

    @ Those who are pushing for Cooper to vote, I think the amount of peer pressure is ridiculous. If he hasn’t been won over by either candidate then why should he vote? Is this something we want to be pushing, voting for someone we don’t necessarily want? I can’t help but feel that’s what compulsory voting will create. If anything, I admire Cooper for standing his ground and not giving into peer pressure. I believe in a democratic society, we have the right to not vote for someone we don’t want, and if there’s no one that we want, then why vote for any of them?

  220. 220 Thomas in Kabul, Afghanistan
    October 1, 2008 at 19:06

    Voting should never be something forced. If officials want to encourage voting they should offer tax credits for all who vote. This gives positive encouragment to vote. This gives motivation by encouragement and not motivation by fear.

  221. 221 Jared Rogers
    October 1, 2008 at 19:10

    @ Anthony

    Ralph Nader? Narcissistic? The man who brought you seat belts and is keeping you safe at work?! Please try and come up with a legitimate argument for excluding people from democracy. Right now your just parroting the party fallacy.


  222. 222 Donald
    October 1, 2008 at 19:10

    Just a couple of comments about one effect of compulsory voting in Australia – one is you just have to go and put your voting papers in the ballot – you don’t have to fill them out – they can be blank if you want, so the option of “not voting” in a way still exists.

    Those who do not wish to vote for any of the available candidates sometimes resort to informal voting-placing a blank or incompletely filled out ballot in the ballot box. Deliberate informal voting is technically a breach of the Electoral Act, but it is impossible to identify and penalise an offender without violating the secrecy of the ballot. As in the case of Langer voting, it has become an offence to advocate or promote informal voting. The number of informal votes is recorded, but they are not counted as part of the total number of votes cast. Around 95% of registered voters attend polling, and around 5% of Representatives votes are informal.

    And there has to be a lottery to decide the order the candidates appear on the ballot papers – Australia uses a preferential system where the voter has to rank candidates in order – because some people are known to put numbers from one two three in the order the candidates appear on the papers – this is called the “donkey vote”.

  223. 223 Kevin in Portland
    October 1, 2008 at 19:11

    It is naive to believe that one citizens vote is as powerful as one lobbyist’s gift. The Vote is only a suggestion at the federal level here in the us. To vote or not to vote means nothing if your vote means nothing. A popular vote is not a legitimate vote an electoral college is. Popular democracy is a farce and oligarchy is reality in a presidential election.

  224. 224 Alan
    October 1, 2008 at 19:11

    All potential voters should be given an IQ test first. Especially in the United States. How was it possible the George W Bush was elected TWICE as president of the world’s most powerful country. Such a cretinous, uneducated, incoherent man in any other country would not have stood a chance, He has been described as an idiot and a cretic by diplomats who have come close to him. Watching him speak without a prompter is the most disturbing experience any intelligent voter could have. But it was the unintelligent and easily brainwashed average American voter who put him there. Shame on them for being so stupid. Winston Churchill once said a nation gets the leader it deserves. And doesnt that little bit of wisdom apply in this case.

  225. 225 Jared Rogers
    October 1, 2008 at 19:11


    “You’re just parroting the party fallacy.”

  226. 226 Emily in the UK
    October 1, 2008 at 19:11

    I am from Australia, where voting is compulsory. However, voting FOR someone is not compulsory – turning up is compulsory. You then can make an active decision to vote for no-one (ie turn in an empty ballot, or write a political statement of dissent) if you want, but you at least make an active decision – not a passive apathetic decision, like many people who don’t turn up. Therefore I think it is a very good thing for democracy.

  227. 227 Timothy - Quaker - Cleveland, OH
    October 1, 2008 at 19:14

    Karen Seawell October 1, 2008 at 6:47 pm wrote:

    “Voting should not be compulsory in a democracy. There is choice to opt in as well as opt out. There are entire segments of the population that live here that have opted out – the Amish, the Quakers, etc.”

    As a Quaker, I STRONGLY disagree with this! At least in America, Quakers are VERY active in the political process and I believe this is true world-wide.

    and also regarding Quakers,
    Natasha October 1, 2008 at 6:50 pm wrote:

    “I love that the Americans think they have the model of democracy. Don’t pay taxes if you believe in non-compulsory voting … put your money ($700 billion!) where your mouths are!”

    There ARE Quakers who refuse to pay their taxes – or at least the fraction (quite large!) that would go toward “defense” spending – i.e. money to kill other people in war. Quakers believe there is no such thing as a just war.

    And I don’t quite understand Natasha’s (paraphrased) “if you believe in non-compulsory voting (then) don’t pay taxes.”

    As a syllogism (if . .then) this is a non sequitur to me.

  228. 228 Nick Wilson
    October 1, 2008 at 19:14

    I feel that everyone should vote if they are given the chance, but some other things need to get changed in order for a compulsory voting system to work in the United States of America. First off, we would need to have a holiday for voting. It is pretty unfair for some Americas to have to work on the day we hold our biggest elections and this is sometimes even called a way to suppress our vote. So, if we had a system that rewarded them less for not voting or even punishing them for not voting, it would be highly unfair because certain people do not vote for reasons other than political apathy and the what not. Ideally everyone would be highly informed about both candidates and would vote in their best interest and their countries best interest, but often times people vote for the more charismatic leader. So, if you forced these people to vote, they might not actually make informed decisions and just choose based on some unimportant factor.
    I am 23 years old, an undergraduate of Sociology at the University of Mississippi.

  229. 229 Timothy - Quaker - Cleveland, OH
    October 1, 2008 at 19:37

    Alan wrote:

    Alan October 1, 2008 at 7:11 pm

    All potential voters should be given an IQ test first. Especially in the United States. How was it possible the George W Bush was elected TWICE –

    Bush was NOT elected twice! He was basically *appointed* in 2000 by a slight majority of the Supreme Court, two of whom ( David Souter – 1990 , Clarence Thomas – 1991) were put there by his father.

    As to the second time? *sigh* you have a point.

    – as president of the world’s most powerful country. Such a cretinous, uneducated, incoherent man in any other country would not have stood a chance, He has been described as an idiot and a cretin by diplomats who have come close to him. Watching him speak without a prompter is the most disturbing experience any intelligent voter could have. But it was the unintelligent and easily brainwashed average American voter who put him there. Shame on them for being so stupid. Winston Churchill once said a nation gets the leader it deserves. And doesn’t that little bit of wisdom apply in this case.”

    Well, yes . . . there you are.

  230. 230 Michele
    October 1, 2008 at 19:41

    No, I don.t think that voting should be made compulsory. It would be nonsense. You could always spoil your vote.
    Democracy is based on the right to participate, it is a free choice of the individual and no one should be compelled to vote. I would rather worry about the respect of the rules in a true democratic state. If the press and the media are not free and independent, if politicians or “very important people” don’t respect rules, if there is a state within the state, if the state is not authoritative or effective enough and as a consequence cannot control lawfulness, individual freedom and security, I think tthere is no true democracy. Let’s consider the negative impact of lobbies, mafia, gangs, inefficiency of the public service on democracy. I do not think that a state that cannot control and check corruption, inefficiency, insecurity, etc. can really be defined a true democratic state.


  231. 231 SANDY
    October 1, 2008 at 19:47

    To those of you in the USA. Educate yourselves.
    Do not rely on the Media to give you the truth. Research all the Candidates, and by all I mean ALL.
    You will find the Libertarian Candidate Bob Barr to be very qualified and a Better Choice.

  232. 232 Alexandre, Sao Paulo - Brazil
    October 1, 2008 at 19:54

    In Brazil it is a good democratic tool to have a mandatory vote. You can protest by voting in blank, or vote in someone that you think is good for your country. And there are lot of people who only have this opportunity to choose who is going to lead his country. A lot of people foght and lost their lives to have a democratic country…and we should respect those people with our vote.

  233. 233 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 1, 2008 at 20:01

    @ Sandy,

    Is it likely that people will vote for him to the extent that he could make a meaningful impact on the elections in November? I doubt it, strongly.Is that an indication of a lack of education? Perhaps. However, what is certain is that the two party system is perhaps the most convenient way of electing a Government, from all appearances. What remains to be seen, however, is whether such a systems, by itself, is sufficient to facilitate the kinds of ‘education’ referred to above. The two-party system, in other words, seems designed to keep us so divided that regardless of how alike we may be, few seem to take the time to find out and, therefoere, are unable to meaningful impact the process.

  234. 234 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 1, 2008 at 20:03

    Hi WHYSers!

    As for mandatory voting, I am not even sure whether that is democratic in the sense that it seems to go against the very principles of choice and empowerment supported by democratic philosophy. In other words, if a democracy is the proposed alternative to not having a voice, then, forcing people to have a voice is not the solution. Empowerment, education and a broadbased understanding a self in relation to one’s society and the world are more effective tools in that regard.

  235. 235 Pat in Belize
    October 1, 2008 at 20:09

    Because we the people are so lax in our voting capacity and yet we want tip top programmes and answers and action from those who are put in power BUT WE DO NOT WANT TO DO ANYTHING ABOUT ANYTHING UNLESS SOMETHING GOES WRONG – COMPULSORY VOTING IS NECESSARY.

  236. 236 Mark La Benne (USA)
    October 1, 2008 at 20:10

    It is ridiculous to suggest that, in a democracy or republic, one should be forced to vote.

    The only entities who would truly consider this are those who would feel that this would benefit their parties or agenda.

    The Soviet Union and Hussein’s Iraq were one of many political entities who have implemented such an inane program and they could hardly be called democratic.


  237. 237 Mason in Park City, Utah
    October 1, 2008 at 20:11

    I agree that voting can not be mandatory.  You can not force people to care, plus with the horrible electoral system in the US many votes do not count.  For instance, I live in UT, for the most part my vote for a Democrat means nothing as the state is going to give its electoral votes to the Republican.  Additionally, voting as a political statement is viable, I have voted in every election I have been eligible for, except for the 2000 Presidential Election, because I felt that neither Al Gore nor W would make a good President….I was at least half right.

  238. October 1, 2008 at 20:11

    I, like Nick listed above, am also a 23-year old undergraduate in Sociology, albeit at Baldwin-Wallace College, Wright State University, and presently, at The University of Akron; note that all three of these vaunted institutions are in the Newly-Blue State of Ohio!!! I am also an Obama Organizing Fellow, so it is my job to register new voters, and what I tell people who give me static about registering to vote is rather simple, and resonates particularly loudly after this country’s experience over the past eight years: I simply tell people that if one doesn’t take a few hours every couple of years to vote, then said person has NO RIGHT to complain when their country (or state) begins its tumultuous decline into the crapper!!! EVERYONE, here in the US at least, Loves to complain, and politics is probably THE MOST prominent topic to voice ones dissatisfaction with!!!

  239. 239 Robert in California, U.S.A.
    October 1, 2008 at 20:12

    I do not believe that voting should be mandatory. While not voting can be a result of apathy, it can also be a statement that one does not want to participate in a corrupt political system. I cancelled my voter registration in disgust the day after President Bush was re-elected in 2004 and do not wish to vote again in this country. In order to work, democracy requires an educated and intelligent public, something we do not have in the United States.

  240. 240 Tim in San Francisco, CA, USA.
    October 1, 2008 at 20:13

    False dichotomy is posed:
    **If a controlled society with media dominated by government what difference does it make?
    **If voting is voluntary, it the public is not informed or voting is penalized by short voting hours, insufficient voting machines what difference does it make?

    Suggest encouraging voting by inducements:
    **Vote by mail over a month time period
    **Vote over a month period
    **Instant vote registration
    **Voting on weekends
    **Compel employers a mandatory day off for voting for employees **In order to receive government benefit (drivers licence, government student loan, or other government subsidy, etc.) recipient must have voted **Receive coupon upon voting an Income Tax Credit for a significant amount of money

    Great Show!

  241. 241 Bill
    October 1, 2008 at 20:13

    Politicians face two challenges when they run for office:

    1) Getting people to vote.
    2) Getting people to vote for them.

    If voting was compulsory, the politicians would of course be focused on the latter. Perhaps compulsory voting would result in the rise of a third political party.

  242. 242 Floater
    October 1, 2008 at 20:14

    Could someone there explain how abstaining from voting could possibly make a difference or mean anything to political parties or candidates? Has that ever worked?

    Silence and invisibility as a public statement?

    It strikes me as a political version of passive aggressive behavior.

    Thanks for your show.

  243. 243 Ali in Zambia
    October 1, 2008 at 20:16

    We have elections on the 30th this month. I’m not voting because I have moved from the place I voted from in the last elections (2006) and the government is not registering any new voters. This means all those who have become eligible to vote will not vote.
    Therefore voting becoming compulsory here is building castles in the air.

  244. 244 David from Oklahoma City, USA
    October 1, 2008 at 20:17

    I think that voting is a right, and therefore may or may not be exercised. However, many people do not vote in this country because they are not registered, or use that as an excuse, “oh I missed the deadline”, etc. I think once you reach the minimum age you should be required to register, therefore enabling people to vote without worrying about missing a step.

  245. 245 Thibault in Los Angeles
    October 1, 2008 at 20:18

    I think voting should be mandatory in the USA. Having seen all the actions taken by the Republican party over 8 years, moving us away from Democracy, civil rights and freedom, reminds me of how the Nazi party came to power legally before WW2. If everyone was forced to pay attention and make a decision with a vote, maybe it would ensure that a fascist party couldn’t sneak their way into power during voter complacency. Remember the National Front (LePen) made it to the second round of the presidential elections a few years ago in France, because the French felt that there votes didn’t matter anymore.

    Of course, one should never be penalized for not voting; instead, you could get a small tax-break for it, or a coupon for ice cream or something. That would make everyone come out and vote willingly. 🙂

  246. 246 Alexandra in Pascagoula, Mississippi, USA
    October 1, 2008 at 20:19

    It shouldn’t need to be compulsory, if only people who have scored at least 120 on a standard I.Q. test are allowed to vote!

    In lieu of a sufficiently high score, a person could be allowed to vote upon presentation of any four-year college degree!

    I believe this strategy would free us from the effects of backward, intolerant, uneducated, unsophisticated voters who tend to dominant elections in this country, and therefore, continue to shackle us to the whims of the Conservatives!

    And I’ve had enough of their whims!

    PS: IF I need to crawl to my polling place on November 4th, I’ll crawl!

  247. 247 Terry in Portland, Oregon
    October 1, 2008 at 20:20

    In listening to your program today, I am saddened to hear about those who feel voting should not be compulsory. We have too many which do not want to offend and claim we all need to be politically correct.

    In truth – we need to understand that our decisions and associated actions have a resulting outcome. If an individual fails to pay their taxes – whether in a democratic or non-democratic country – there is a consequence. The consequence could be fine, imprisonment, or other.

    The same should be true for those who fail to fulfill their national duty of voting. Sometimes a sufficient number of votes are required in order for a measure or item to pass – regardless whether the majority of votes received or for or against. Sadly, many initiatives or measures are not passed which could have benefitted the very people who failed to vote on them!

    Those who fail to cast their vote must receive a consequence for being silent. At least vote your disapproval or state something better!

  248. 248 Stacey in Tacoma, Washington
    October 1, 2008 at 20:20

    A caller commented on the cost of making sure citizens vote. There’s already a significant cost in running elections, preparing and mailing out ballots, plus doing recounts. Keeping track of who votes and who does not would not increase those costs. Citizens are free to go to their polling place and mark nothing or insert the names of non-candidates on their ballots or to send in ballots unmarked as a form of protest, rather than making no effort at all.

  249. 249 SANDY
    October 1, 2008 at 20:21


    I understand your point but it totally infuriates me that so many Americans will not think for themselves. They blindly follow without asking questions. We are constantly corralled into the gates and led to the slaughter by the Media and Big Business. I for one choose to go down fighting. I would hope others will too.

  250. 250 PJ in the USA
    October 1, 2008 at 20:21

    To one of the speakers, why is it a great freedom to NOT vote? If everybody voted, politicians could be elected that CHANGE the power structures in place.

    It is not ridiculous to have faith that one vote counts. Why do people forget about local elections? My current representative at the state level won by 12 votes. The state is what determines most of what affects my life – my tuition, my transportation, education, police, etc.

    People are forced to pay taxes. Why should they not be forced (i.e. fined) to vote for the policy makers?

  251. October 1, 2008 at 20:48

    I like to establish “baselines”. Find the point where pretty much everybody agrees. So, here is one.

    Forget forced to vote, Should this person be allowed to vote?

  252. 252 Roberto
    October 1, 2008 at 20:52

    RE “”Bush was NOT elected twice! He was basically *appointed* in 2000 by a slight majority of the Supreme Court,””

    ————— My dearest Timmy, before you give everyone an IQ test, you should at least be able to remember and pass the lessons of your first government and history primers.

    Al Gore conceded the election TWICE, and additionally cast the tie breaking Senate vote to ratify the GWhacked presidency in the last step before the swearing in.

    Moreover, the vote totals themselves were subject to much larger margins of errors than the infinitesimal reported vote spreads between the candidates, meaning nobody knows who really won closely contested states or even the popular vote other than the totals given. Stats 101.

    Every two years the rep/dem tinfoil brigades march around like mad march hares raisin’ a ruckus and spiking global warming. It should be mandatory that they remain under house arrest during this period to save the rest of us such a sorry spectacle.

  253. 253 archibald in oregon
    October 1, 2008 at 21:17

    Hey WHYS,
    I think a forced vote would have a negative affect and effect on voters and voter turnout. So many are already disillusioned with the voting process, this would make them all the more distrustful of gov’t in general, its overall motivations and whoever gets elected as a result. Great way to start a presidency…………

    ps. Maybe there should be a three strikes rule for those who consistently stray off topic and into ego driven rants, ultimately bringing the quality of the whole discussion down. just a suggestion……..there is no need to name names………
    thanks for providing this forum, it is invaluable.

  254. 254 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 1, 2008 at 21:43

    @ archibald in oregon,

    Useful points raised above. However, I am just curious to know how might issues of disillusionment be combatted based on your arguments above?

    Additionally, the three strikes rule seems like an ideal recommendation to the WHYS team, as one of the weekend editors this week suggested blocking people who get into ‘persona’ information. I suggested a block for people who insist on making inflamatory, derogatory and offensive remarks in this forum, for whatever sets of reasons. I even proposed that as a topic for discussion – how do we communicate across cultures without deliberately offending and alienating others?

  255. 255 rawpoliticsjamaicastyle
    October 1, 2008 at 21:47

    Still, I think the issue of mandatory voting brings with it, as you have noted above, all sorts of challenges that might defeat the very goals that it seeks to achieve. I am just fearful that where force, power and inadequate amounts of information are used to authorise leadership of a country and or a system, that we are in the realm of dictatorship. The right to vote is an inalienable right, in my view. The Powers That BE( PTBs) are obligated to educate people to understand these rights and their implications in terms of how they are applied to modern societies. Of course, that might prove their undoing, so we are back at square one – discussing whether people should be forced to vote. How outrageous, indeed!

  256. 256 Alexander
    October 1, 2008 at 23:13

    Voting is a privilege. it should be voluntary though. This election I will be voting for John McCain. Why you might ask?

    It comes down to economics. Barrack Obama wants to raise taxes on the top one percent of the nation, or those earning more than $250,000. This is a bad idea in wake of the recent financial fishers with mortgage banks. We must remember that the depression did not start for three years after the stock market crashed. The reason the USA slipped into depression was because the rich were then taxed at about 65% in the years right before the depression. If Obama is elected, this similar scenario will come about.

    The rich own the means of production, when they pull money out of investments and other areas of the market, depression will follow.

    Barrack Obama is not a good choice for the world in this are of a global economy. If one market fails, it is a domino effect.

    Vote McCain. Put aside your social differences and look at the world picture. Another depression is not a good thing, and government regulation will not fix anything as we see today. National backing of banks in Europe is not preventing economic breakdown.

  257. October 2, 2008 at 00:17

    Whooops, there it is…Sudarsana nails it at 6:22 pm….Voting to be made compulsory….for the benefit of many other countries….
    Why this connection between mandatory voter turnout in a US election and some benefit elsewheres?
    After the Pearl Harbor attack Yamamoto expressed his reservations, famously saying he was afraid they had awakened a sleeping giant.
    What if the US wakes up and acts on outsourcing jobs? On sending out foreign aid while problems here go unaddressed. What if the nation decides they are going to stop growing surplus wheat and grow corn for fuel instead?
    Hope and pray that the Oakland Raider fans stay with footbal rather than nationalist fervor.
    Someone in a previous post mentioned that Blair and Bush were, “yoked at the hip.” Sorry, but that wasn’t the actual position. Nor would the American public ever accept it the other way around.
    I think the root of this thread is that the world would gladly accept anyone but Bush or a Bush retread. That if somehow everybody votes then they will get a watered down and weaker president that they might force some concessions on. Those concessions are all based on the US having less and them having more. That dog just won’t hunt. Go to put some lipstick on it and it will rip off your arm.

  258. 258 Jennifer
    October 2, 2008 at 01:06

    @ Alexander

    I don’t think I could have said it any better. Social issues are important but at this time we do have to pay special attention to our economic interests.

    Thanks for your post! I appreciated it! 😀

  259. 259 rick
    October 2, 2008 at 03:31

    The main effect of compulsory voting is to neutralize the power of special intrest groops. If 100% of people vote and a special intrest groop like the NRA can mobilize 15% of the vote, its no big deal. If only 50% of voters vote that doubles the effect of the NRA tournout and gives them a more power than they should have. If you have a first past the post system then 15% of voters can be very effective if say 5 people are running.

  260. 260 ken mackintosh
    October 2, 2008 at 04:13

    you get the government you deserve so if you dont vote you cant complain.vote and you can and as a squeeking door gets all the oil. compulsary voting would createcomplaints about administration.

  261. October 2, 2008 at 04:59

    Sorry Rick ,,,,,,If 100 percent of the people are forced to vote then you get a pro wrestler or or maybe a retired Nascar driver as president. The NRA would have way more than 50 percent. I’d be one. The white house dog would be a pit bull.

  262. 262 Matthew
    October 2, 2008 at 08:15

    The cheap insults roll easily off your tongue and you’ve got a reasonably clever turn of phrase. But that’s all you’ve got.
    You seem absolutely determined to fly in the face of reality, and just turn it into a clever jibe here and a side swipe there. And tell me what has that got you in the Good Ol’ US of A. Nothing but anger, disbelief, an abiding hatred and total lack of comprehension on behalf of so many as to what the hell your foreign policy has been about for the last eight years. Your problems are deep rooted in the belief that the world owes you a living. It doesn’t. You tell me where you’ve forged new partnerships, made new friends, and allied the US to a cause that is just and honest in its desire and outcome or garnered the respect and admiration of nations and leaders in the world. Your sphere of influence around the globe has been created by swallowing up, demanding and imposing your will in the shape of you adopt our model and ally yourself to our policies and principles and we’ll hand over the dollars, fund your businesses and military for you. Seems fair huh, former Eastern Bloc nations, comrades in arms welcome your NEW MASTERS, do as you’re told and everything will work out MIGHTY FINE for you boys.
    You still can’t contend with the dilemma of who’s responsible for 9/11 and where to go and lay the blame. But Iraq will do. It’s as good as any other god forsaken place that needs the Neo Con treatment applied to your latest and willing patient. Also not forgetting DADS UNFINISHED BUSINESS, and AL Qaeda is waiting for us there when we arrive in Iraq. Where did those planes come from Pat? A lunatic fringe, which chanced its luck, a rag bag of disaffected and disgruntled individuals that had an axe to grind. An axe to grind certainly, but it came from bitter experience, and bitter disregard and they’ve been suffering at your hands for so long now, unseen and unwitnessed by most Americans. Over the decades you’ve steadily eroded any faith they might have once had in your leaders and administrations. A cold wind has been blowing in the direction of America well before 9/11. But you were blinded to itand just didn’t want to know.

  263. 263 rick
    October 2, 2008 at 08:16

    how does that work???

  264. 264 Matthew
    October 2, 2008 at 08:17


    Continued from earlier post:

    Ignorance is bliss. And so it is, until that ignorance and plain disrespect for others than yourselves reaps a whirlwind of discontent never before witnessed. By then it’s too late. And what if it didn’t happen that way? Well lets go beyond the Warren Commission’s open and shut case, and we’ll have a looky here, well I be darned, this is what happened, you mean to say…. No independent investigation by Bush for 8 years, nothing, zilch. Sure can help the rumour mill and conspiracy wheels keep turning. Quick I need my meds again. The entire Bin Laden family secretly flown out of America after 9/11, with not one kept behind for investigation or questioning by FBI into their brother, their cousin, their relative, Osama. This is another documented FACT! NORAD switched off on the morning before the planes came in – FACT. There are many anomalies surrounding the veracity of events as told by Bush, as to what might have happened. But they’re simply of no importance or relevance in the face of THE TERRORIST THREAT THAT WILL ENGULF US ALL! No satisfactory answer as to why. WE’RE AT WAR. TAKE THE FIGHT TO THE ENEMY. Nothing else matters at all. The truth be blowed. Have you seen the POWER OF NIGHTMARES documentary? Just for curiosity sake I urge you to see it.
    To date the war in Iraq has cost you $700 billion US dollars. And it still isn’t over. In theory you could have had $1400 billion for the banks bail out. But maybe the oil will help out, so no matter, because after all it is YOUR OIL. Don Rumsfeld said so. “It’s not our fault that God chose to put our oil under other people’s countries.” No of course it isn’t!
    You can all sleep safely in your beds knowing that we’ve got everything including YOU under OUR control.

  265. 265 Matthew
    October 2, 2008 at 08:30

    Hi Moderators,

    Thanks a lot for that. Much appreciated.
    Keep up the good work.

    All the best,


  266. October 2, 2008 at 10:28

    Hey Rick….
    How does what work? Matthew’s rapier wit and trenchant insight? I assume it’s a gift from on high. I guess I’m just lucky he has picked me?
    Or how do you get a Nascar driver for president? My interest in this thread started with wondering why it was a topic at all. Why is it anybody’s business how someone else does or doesn’t vote? The rhetoric of forcing the country to act seemed to be inflammatory or at least worded to incite comment.
    From there it seemed that there were two camps- make people pass some test to let them vote, or somehow educate the numbnuts who don’t.
    I think the thread unfairly casts non voters in a poor light, that they are unresponsive to the needs of democracy and the world in general, that they are civic louts, and that they somehow don’t see the light. I don’t know if that is what the BBC was looking for, if maybe this wasn’t designed to agitate and serve as a catalyst for vitriole. I think a thread on why people don’t register, aren’t voting, and what it would take to get them involved, would have been far more constructive.
    I think that a populist vote, compulsory or otherwise, only galvanizes special interest groups. My comment was obviously offhand but my thought at the time was that the numbers could go either way. The Government making anything compulsory only stampedes people to the NRA. A populist vote means a populist campaign catering to populist interest and sentiment. I actually think that is preferable to the odd mix of special interest groups we have now.
    Just a sidebar…The electoral college is supposed to protect small states from being disenfranchised but it disenfranchises individual voters in the process. I think that modern media goes a long way towards arguing for a populist vote. I think a populist vote goes a long way towards reorganizing the two party system. Obviously noone is going to be forced to vote. The only way to get people to choose to participate is to make them feel that their voice is going to be heard.

    Lastly, I like when Matthew holds the conch. Let him express himself. I think it’s instructive for people to see. I do think it’s odd he makes his comments into personal attacks on people he doesn’t know. At the same time I don’t think there is any shortage of space and noone is having their nose held to a post. I’d rather deal with his fervor than have anyone moderate it for me.

  267. 267 Nastradamus
    October 2, 2008 at 17:51

    Most Politicians are criminals who’s only purpose is to satisfy their selfish interest.
    I have for long disenfranchised myself and my family from electing any criminal to set of power in the name of politics.
    They don’t put no food on my table all they offer is just false promises and empty hopes.

  268. 268 Matthew
    October 2, 2008 at 18:37


    Thank you for your commentary upon my person and character. I appreciate the sentiment. But if you examine closely your posts in response to my incessant bleeding heart liberal diatribe. Come on you know you want to give me a label and stick me in a political box of some description. That’s fine by me. But I would really like it if you could seriously counter many of the points I’ve bought to your attention along with others so far. I haven’t just singled you out for the Matthew treatment. There’s Jennifer, Bryan and other’s who’s names escape me for the moment. Perhaps if I take an extra dose of meds they’ll come rushing back to my liberal infested mind.
    But Jennifer and Bryan don’t seem to be responding at the moment. Come on club together and fight me out in the open, 3 against 1 it seems fair to me. Hey I’m a commie, a red under the bed, a dream weaver, a freeloader, a public nuisance, a buzzing fly, an annoyance, a threat, a danger and a loose canon, liable to go off at any given moment! There for the taking.
    But, strangely I find myself meeting you on common ground for the first time. I’ll do my darnedest to never let it happen again, I promise.
    “I think a thread on why people don’t register, aren’t voting, and what it would take to get them involved, would have been far more constructive.” as per Pat was the right question to have posed in the first place.

  269. 269 Matthew
    October 2, 2008 at 18:38


    Aaaah! I’m agreeing with a prime adversary, I feel dirty I need to wash and scrub up nice and liberal and clean. “Don’t let them take my precious” they will decimate Middle Earth, the Hobbits are not safe.
    Heavens to Betsy, I’m infiltrating your post and lifting information directly from your thoughts and prose, and while in my possession I can inject it with foul, diseased thoughts and rants and hold you in my sway, and then telepathically transmit my thoughts into your mind and hypnotise you into becoming one of the ghastly truth seekers and a menace to the wonderful leaders of the free world, making you a prisoner of honesty and justice. All you’ve got to do send the lipstick layered Pitbull round to seize me by the jugular, and the spell will be broken. Damn my ever giving philanthropic nature. It’s always getting me in serious trouble. WHERE THE HELL ARE MY MEDS! Save me someone! Til the next time, and the next joust. I bid you adieu and fare thee well.

  270. 270 Sterling Sunley
    October 2, 2008 at 19:04

    The LAST thing I want is for people who have to be pushed, prodded, bullied, guilted, bribed, or otherwise cajoled into voting – to actually vote. In democracies I want only those who are at least smart and informed enough to understand the importance of voting to cast their vote. If they can’t even figure out the fact that they SHOULD vote on their own, I sure don’t want them making decisions that could impact on my future.

  271. 271 archibald in oregon
    October 2, 2008 at 19:36

    @ rawpoliticsjamaicastyle

    The main issue is that we only have two parties to vote for, grossly misrepresenting the voter landscape. Yes, there are fringe parties that have local impact, but, they have been mostly marginalized. If these parties were included in the presidential debates, for example, it would open up a wide range of discussions beyond the typical partisan rhetoric. People do not feel that their vote matters, whether it is forced or not. We must include and educate the general populace in the process of gov’t , to a greater degree, to curb disillusionment. If you ask the average Canadian about his/her local and national gov’t, chances are that you will get a relatively informed answer, because there is a much stronger emphasis on participation and understanding from an early age……….In my experience that is not the case in America.

  272. 272 smithcopper
    October 3, 2008 at 02:11

    maybe ignorance is bliss …since people fought hard for my right to vote i intend to excercise it in honor of their fight and to have my say

  273. 273 Thomas in Melbourne
    October 3, 2008 at 05:12

    I’m a huge fan of compulsory voting, for the simple fact that it makes a vote far more representative of the will of the whole population.

    Unfortunately, as those countries without compulsory voting show, a vast proportion – if not the majority – of people can’t get themselves motivated enough to vote, unless they have a particular issue to push – e.g, the gun lobby, the religious right, etc. Compulsory voting means that the ‘moderates’ have their say, too, so that their government is not dominated by lobby groups.

    For those who have argued above that not voting is a right, and that not voting can be a political statement – you can still do that with compulsory voting. You simply submit an invalid vote – for example, turn up, have your name ticked off, and drop in an empty ballot, or one in which you do not clearly indicate a preference.

  274. October 3, 2008 at 10:49

    if all candidates are **** and none is your like minded,why should anyone think he or she can force others to vote?


  275. 275 Olaf Broers
    October 3, 2008 at 22:21

    It sounds kind of undemocratic to be forced to vote, but not voting seems indeed to leave the field to pressure groups.
    European democracy (itself not very homogeneous) is different from American. In both an obligation to vote would maybe re-enforce the democratic spirit. One would be stimulated to think about the given choices. Ultimately one can choose blanc and protest this way against a system perceived unfair.
    Europeans have a much wider choice but seem further removed from the decision-makers, while the USA offers two parties not very different from each other. We can still all try to influence this.
    It is very much a question of educating the electorate, provide real information, not to be drowned in soundbites, and have a well informed press available everywhere. One thing we Europeans hate is that some ignorant redneck gets to choose the president of the world. Neither he nor the president seem to be very well informed about history or the world.

  276. 276 anne
    October 4, 2008 at 02:01

    Voting is compulsory in many other countries like Argentina, Singapore and Switzerland.

    Vote is not compulsory in Switzerland, but it is in Belgian, even if you live abroad.

    I prefer compulsory votes as I find a typical swiss vote – 55% XX votes of 40% voting persons i.e. only a 22% XX votes – not very democratic. Democracy is for living in society and society has some limit to freedom. This does not mean that the swiss system doesn’t have good points, like the possibility to vote to reject new laws or to propose new rules. Side effect is that evolution could be slower, one example being that Switzerland is still not a member of EU.

  277. October 4, 2008 at 07:18

    Yadda Yadda Olaf….That ignorant redneck is spending a billion dollars on choosing the leader of the free world. They swarmed both conventions, mighty uncivilized lot there….But to hell with it, you are right, you are better educated, more informed, and with a complete grasp of history. Way better than any American. So you choose who will be president of the world……Tony Blair, Butris Butris Galli, Idi Amin, the last Thai Prime minister is looking for work. Go on, throw a dart, how ’bout that pornstar from Italy or maybe Mr Chavez is ready to come up from the minors?
    If the population of your country is a relatively homogenous 12 million, hell make it 25 million, elections are fairly simple. At 25 million that is about equivalent to electing the governor of Texas. Only Texas has more ethnic groups and spoken languages, more resources and industry, more coastline and species of birds, and way more money, than most European paradises. You can swim to Texas and get rich. Oddly almost everyone there would be proud to be called a redneck. Down there they have a word for your post, “All Hat and No Cattle.”
    I betcha kin find plenty to hate in your own backyard. I betcha kin find plenty to hate about yourself. It’s probably easier to hate Americans and their way of life than fix your own.
    This is a civil discussion by the way. Talk like that in Texas and it would devolve into a Chiclet hunt.

  278. 278 Shakhoor Rehman
    October 4, 2008 at 11:15

    Noone should be forced to vote. The right to abstain from any electoral process is part of democratic rights. The abstainers never get the Media coverage they deserve. To say ‘a plague on all your houses I am not voting’ is to express a positive view about the perceived inadequacies of candidates. The differences between McCain and Obarma are cosmetic to millions of abstainers so why be taken in by them by casting a vote for either? It’s an intellectually tenable position and should be recognised as legitimate not targeted for criticism.

  279. October 4, 2008 at 12:00

    no-one should be forced to vote. simple as that!

  280. 280 franklyn from Owerri Nigeria
    October 4, 2008 at 13:20

    I don’t think anybody should be forced to vote. I’m speaking form the Nigerian point of view. I attained the voting age at 2000 and the first voting I did was in 2003 Nigerian general elections which was useless due to the electoral body decided to use their own figure they manufactured at their office. I visited my local community to ask my local people if they are still going to vote in on-coming local elections, but out of the 113 persons I asked only 4 said they are likely to vote whenever it comes. so people have completely lost confidence in the electoral system of Nigeria because of the Nigerian unfaithfulness to her citizens.

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