March 26, 2014 · 0 Comments
In your editorial, “Is it really a ‘Fair Elections Act’?” you favoured obligatory voting.
I’m familiar with the compulsory voting in Australia – which is not applied in all Australian jurisdictions, by the way – and disagree with it. Every citizen has rights, which should include the right to vote, not to vote or to mutilate the ballot.
Several years ago, having just moved to Ottawa, I was visited at home by a delegation urging me to vote in the municipal election and asking my preferences.
At the time I knew nothing of local issues, had no knowledge of the city’s political parties (if any) and did not know the names or faces of the contenders; so I refused – the only time I have not taken the opportunity to vote.
A voter who has no knowledge of issues or candidates is only adding noise to the ballot box. If a majority of citizens were in that situation and were obliged to vote, they might average out the ballots or they could tip the balance in favour of a bad politician. In either case, the result would not be intelligently arrived at.
Every citizen should vote but, if they do not and the turnout is only 50%, the effective influence of those who do vote with full knowledge of the issues and candidates is effectively doubled. I prefer that outcome.