The Right to Vote

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tehmikey
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The Right to Vote

Postby tehmikey » Tue Nov 04, 2008 9:57 pm UTC

First off, sorry for yet another election thread. I do not want this one to be just about American politics, but it is the only place that I have to draw examples.

Background:
When the US first became a nation, it was thought that only the elite or priveledged should have the right to vote. Wealthy, land owning, white people was where the power was held. As time went on, the right to vote was extended to both African-Americans and women. Various institutions were put in place to ensure that only the fit could vote: poll taxes and tests. To ensure people did not lose the right to vote, the government instituted the grandfather clause. If your grandfather could vote, you could vote. As it turns out, the poll taxes and tests served no real purpose other than to discriminate against the black population.

Recently, I was informed of a survey done where black people were asked who they were going to vote for and why. Once they responded with Obama, they were asked what they thought of Obama's policies but giving them McCain policy ideas instead. They were also asked if they believed Palin to be a good VP choice by Obama. The people polled agreed with the McCain policies because they were posed as Obama's plaform, and they had no clue who the VP choies were. This was used as a statement that race does have something to do with this election. However, I would expect similar results from many diehard democrats in the lower economic brackets. I wish the survey took race out of the equation because that is not my focus.

In any event, my point is that many people who have the right to vote, do not understand the issues or the candidates. We have people who blindly vote for one of the two major political parties because they are told to do so. McCain is for big business. Obama is for the poor. My grandmother states very conservative view points, but she votes for democratic candidates purely because her father told her, "The Democratic Party is for the poor people."

Do these issues exist in other nations as well? Is it good or bad that people uneducated on the political platforms can vote? If a fair test could be implemented to ensure that voters knew the political platforms before blindly voting, would it be a good idea? What are the voting requirements in other countries?

Personally, I think that some people are more fit to vote than others. I think that it is important to understand the basic tax process and how the economy works. Sadly, this means that many people currently in power in our government would become unfit to hold power. Also, it would inevitably end up with a corrupt minority seizing complete power.


Summary:
Who should be able to vote, and why?

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Gunfingers
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:01 pm UTC

Who should be able to vote, and why?
All citizens of voting age. An understanding of politics, history, or whatever, is in no way necessary.

Also, i suspect the surveys you're citing are something similar to those videos of people getting really basic questions wrong. There was probably a lot of cherry picking.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby tehmikey » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:04 pm UTC

Gunfingers wrote:
Who should be able to vote, and why?
All citizens of voting age. An understanding of politics, history, or whatever, is in no way necessary.

Also, i suspect the surveys you're citing are something similar to those videos of people getting really basic questions wrong. There was probably a lot of cherry picking.


Yes, I imagine there was. I did not see them myself. I take the extreme standpoint, but I understand that it is not plausible.

However, I do think that each voter should be able to say why they vote for one person over the other, and I wish the answer was not based on "wanting to have a beer" with one candidate more than the other.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:07 pm UTC

Why they prefer one candidate over another is none of your business. We can't dictate what you take into account when picking a candidate.

Edit: Unless you're just expressing frustration with people who do that. In that case i'm right there with you.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Kizyr » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:14 pm UTC

tehmikey wrote:Background:
When the US first became a nation, it was thought that only the elite or priveledged should have the right to vote. Wealthy, land owning, white people was where the power was held. As time went on, the right to vote was extended to both African-Americans and women. Various institutions were put in place to ensure that only the fit could vote: poll taxes and tests. To ensure people did not lose the right to vote, the government instituted the grandfather clause. If your grandfather could vote, you could vote. As it turns out, the poll taxes and tests served no real purpose other than to discriminate against the black population.

I think you're getting some of your history off.

Poll taxes were instituted to disenfranchise blacks from the beginning. Additionally, several states had a cumulative poll tax--if you didn't vote in the last several elections, then you had to pay a poll tax for all elections you didn't vote in before you could vote this year. Doesn't matter if you weren't eligible to vote, or if you were threatened by the KKK in previous years.

The grandfather clause was never intended to "ensure people did not lose the right to vote", but specifically to restrict the right to vote to certain classes. The clause (in the states where it existed) allowed you to vote only if your father's father could have voted. It didn't, nor was it ever intended, to protect anyone's right to vote.

The only one that contributes to your example is the literacy test. That's the only one that, at least ostensibly, could be applied evenly. The literacy test was used as a disenfranchising measure through its application, whereas the other two examples (poll taxes and grandfather clause) would disenfranchise blacks no matter how they were applied. KF
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby tehmikey » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:15 pm UTC

All valid points. I am stuck on the idea that a role of leadership should be filled by the most capable person.

In some nations, you are given the right to vote, but choosing the wrong candidate can get you killed.

Sometimes I feel as if the current US system is a mass of two large groups trying to brainwash the middle ground. Why not just flip a coin to see who will win?

Edit: In response to the last post. I was using some of the examples just to show how voting was limited to groups of people. I was trying to dumb it down, and I phrased some of it a bit off. I understand how the grandfather clause works, and I was merely using it as a statement that people were trying to keep voting to the elite/white. The poll tax was used in a similar light.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby qinwamascot » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:16 pm UTC

Personally, I'm fine with people who aren't informed to vote. All it means is that the candidate who they are voting against didn't do a good enough job campaigning and proving his/her points.

A test is a terrible idea. It could never be fair, and even the concept that anyone else can decide what knowledge is required is bad. If people want to find out about a candidate, they will look. If people are misinformed, it's the candidates' jobs to correct these and prove their points.

Also, your survey is flawed. Many voters only care about one issue and vote that way. So assuming that Obama supporters would know everything about his policy is a bad assumption.

Also, this would decrease democratic participation. I'm inclined to believe that the more people we include, the less the minority fringes and uneducated become important. Look at most other democracies-higher turnout and more competent leaders.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Gunfingers » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:19 pm UTC

The greatest trick the two-party system ever pulled was convincing the world it exists. The US would be a much better place if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we have more options than just the two big paradigms.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby tehmikey » Tue Nov 04, 2008 10:23 pm UTC

qinwamascot wrote:Also, this would decrease democratic participation. I'm inclined to believe that the more people we include, the less the minority fringes and uneducated become important. Look at most other democracies-higher turnout and more competent leaders.


If this is true, then I found my answer in just a few posts :) That is a very interesting point, and I will have to look into it. I am just dissatisfied with the current US system as a whole.

Also, I agree with Gunfingers in that the two party system is flawed. I claim to be an independent, and the closest platform that I agree with is the Libertarian party.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Neon Rain » Tue Nov 04, 2008 11:43 pm UTC

The trend I've seen in the responses is that there should be no restrictions for suffrage for citizens of age. But what is so bad about decreasing democratic participation? If someone does absolutely nothing for their country (especially if they pay no income tax), why should they have any say? They're already getting so many benefits by being a citizen; if they want more, they should have to work for it.

I think a voting system like in Starship Troopers would be best, albeit with multiple non-military options to get the right to vote. Suffrage should be something earned, not given automatically; if you aren't willing to work for your vote, you probably aren't the type of person who should be influencing anything, let alone a government. And if you are a net negative to the country (as in the utility you give the country is less that that of the welfare you receive, the fraction of the defense budget that protects you, etc.) you shouldn't be deciding how it is run. Beggar's shouldn't be choosers. I don't mean to say that poor people shouldn't vote; a lot of teachers are poor, yet they provide a valuable service to the country; but if you are paying no taxes and working in some industry kept alive by federal subsidies attained by lobbyists, you should really not have the right to vote.

The problem of course is deciding what would give you the right to vote. To be fair, everyone should have the opportunity to gain suffrage especially the poor. I think between 2 years military service, a certain amount of taxes paid, and time in a public/socially beneficial job (teachers, police, firefighters, infrastructure development, etc.) as qualifications everyone should be accounted for. This doesn't discriminate against anyone; even the poorest people can do public works, and the rich are given some acknowledgment for the fact that they are paying for all the welfare that goes to the poor.

Thoughts?

EDIT: As for the two-party system, I don't think anyone intended it to form. Its just a consequence of our electoral system. If either of the two parties split, or a new party grew to prominence, the party whose base was least divided would always win. I think it shows that people would rather vote for someone who they partially agree and will hopefully win than someone who they completely agree with, but will divide the base and cause the party they most disagree with to win. I don't think we can leave a two-party system without changing the electoral system itself.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Gunfingers » Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:03 am UTC

I kind of liked the "earned citizenship" thing, but ultimately i would never implement it, and would fight it's implementation with my last breath. That effectively creates a ruling class, and we don't need anything like that.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby TheAmazingRando » Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:17 am UTC

Earned suffrage creates a class of people whose opinions and needs don't matter, and necessarily passes a broad value judgement on them for things that may or may not be within their control. You're essentially creating a legally defined "other" and inviting derision and unequal treatment under the law.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Vaniver » Wed Nov 05, 2008 12:39 am UTC

Gunfingers wrote:The greatest trick the two-party system ever pulled was convincing the world it exists. The US would be a much better place if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we have more options than just the two big paradigms.
This is the result of the voting system. Once again, range voting would be the most effective and easiest democratic reform out there.

I am uncomfortable with the idea of an elected body which decides who gets to vote. The possibilities that are bad outweigh the possibilities that are good.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby psyck0 » Wed Nov 05, 2008 2:08 am UTC

In theory, I 100% support some kind of very basic test to register that shows you know at least some of each candidate's platform. In practice, it would be a terrible thing and I would fight it wholeheartedly. It could never be applied well enough to be fair.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Neon Rain » Wed Nov 05, 2008 3:00 am UTC

Gunfingers wrote:I kind of liked the "earned citizenship" thing, but ultimately i would never implement it, and would fight it's implementation with my last breath. That effectively creates a ruling class, and we don't need anything like that.


There's a difference between earned suffrage and earned citizenship. I don't see any reason to have to "earn" citizenship; its where your born. I think it accounts for the basic rights everyone should have. As for a "ruling class," class implies something your born into, or is otherwise hard to move out of. If options for earning suffrage are easily available for everyone, then its not really as much as a "class" as a "group of people who chose to sacrifice time/money to earn suffrage." The only people who wouldn't have it are those who don't think its worth the effort.

Of course, a system like this would never work in practice. Actually, I'm beginning to come to the belief that no form of government (or lack of government) will ever work because people are really, really, ignorant :( .

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby phonon266737 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 1:48 pm UTC

I'm a proponent of voting reforms - as many havementioned here, the system is kind of busted.
My thoughts:
1 - No more "straight party" button. In fact, don't write party affiliations on the ballot. Perhaps then people may learn the names of their local politicians, which is a start.
2 - Split the EC vote: a recent thread on this made me realize something. the EC balances power in the elections for president in the same ratio that we have in congress. It is good. The problem is this all-in thing. Traditionally, the argument is that "my vote doesn't count If I am a republican and live in a blue state" This is not true.
If you are a republican living in a blue state, your vote most certainly counts..for the other candidate. That is, your choice to live in said "blue state" gives the majority party in that state more power, regardless of your views. That's just not right.
3- NO NEWS MEDIA ASSIGNING EC VOTES until 95% of polling precincts have closed (There are always the stragglers that take all night or something).
4- A poll tax is a horrible idea. However, use the amount of your last federal income tax refund/liability as ID to vote. This would take some implementation, but I think it would be good. It would also mean filing a somewhat tax return once every 4 years for peoople who traditionally do not pay taxes. (Not new - the economic stimulus checks required this)

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Zauderer » Fri Nov 07, 2008 2:12 pm UTC

My thoughts:

- Every citizen (above a certain age) should have the right to vote. Every other system would lead itself ad absurdum. If you've got two groups, one which has the right to vote and one which hasn't, the first group will always try (and succeed, because remember, they are the only ones who have the right to vote) to make it as difficult as possible for a member of the second group to become eligible for voting. Such a system would quickly degenerate into an oligarchy.

- In my opinion, the best way to break the two-party system would be to simply abolish the election of the president by the people. Instead, everybody should just cast his vote for a political party, and the votes are tallied nationwide and every party gets a number of seats in the House of Representatives proportional to the number of votes. (However, there should be a limit - such as five seats - under which no seat at all should be awarded to that party to avoid fragmentation.) The Senate should be abolished completely (good-bye filibuster), and the president (who then nominates a cabinet) would be elected by the House of Representatives.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Azrael » Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:09 pm UTC

Zauderer wrote:In my opinion, the best way to break the two-party system would be to simply abolish the election of the president by the people. Instead, everybody should just cast his vote for a political party, and the votes are tallied nationwide and every party gets a number of seats in the House of Representatives proportional to the number of votes. (However, there should be a limit - such as five seats - under which no seat at all should be awarded to that party to avoid fragmentation.) The Senate should be abolished completely (good-bye filibuster), and the president (who then nominates a cabinet) would be elected by the House of Representatives.


So you want a parliamentary system. It's a lot easier to say that way. While yes, it is very good at supporting multiple political parties, it has this nasty habit of not being possible within the current US government framework. As such, it is a fairly infeasible solution.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Angua » Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

Dinosaur Comics has an interesting take on this.

I think that if you had a quick test while the voter was voting, how well informed the voter is could then be taken into account with their vote. This would probably only have the effect of people cramming to know the answers for whoever they were going to choose anyway, but hopefully some of it will trickle through. I haven't voted on anything yet as I've only just turned 18, but I will do my best to choose who to vote for depending on their values. If they are all the same I'm not sure what I'll do, as that will turn it into a popularity contest (though today most elections seem to be).
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Princess Marzipan » Fri Nov 07, 2008 3:52 pm UTC

I wonder if there IS a way to make sure people are voting "correctly..."

I think a lot of people vote one way or the other based on faulty or deliberately misleading information - for example, the Yes on Prop 8 information often deliberately failed to mention that hey, these people can marry now and we're going to take that ability away if you vote yes.

I live in MA, and our voting pamphlet has space for arguments for and against the ballot questions, like Question 2 - replacing criminal penalties for marijuana possession under one ounce with civil penalties. The 'against' argument states "Marijuana decriminalization is an endorsement of substance abuse and dangerous criminal activity," when it is in fact no such thing. It is a statement that such substance abuse is not okay, but is not FELONIOUSLY terrible, and to say it endorses criminal activity is ludicrous since you're voting on whether it remains criminal in the first place.

I don't think there is an effective way, but man, it would sure be nice if we could make sure people actually KNEW what they were voting for when stepping into the booth - from the standpoint that the message spread by either side of an issue is by definition biased and makes an informed decision incredibly difficult even if you DO put forth the effort for one.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby lazarus89 » Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:25 pm UTC

Starship Troopers: read it.

Service (not necessarily military) first, voting later.

I don't vote because I don't think I've earned franchise... yet.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Malice » Fri Nov 07, 2008 4:52 pm UTC

lazarus89 wrote:Starship Troopers: read it.

Service (not necessarily military) first, voting later.


This is based on the idea that the individual exists to benefit society; I believe that society exists to benefit the individual. I deserve a say in what my society does and does not impose on me, whether or not I have served other people in my society.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Gunfingers » Fri Nov 07, 2008 5:26 pm UTC

I'd take it one step further: there is no such thing as society.

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But seriously, it's just an abstract representation of individuals and their interactions. What benefits it and what it benefits are irrelevant. Only individuals matter.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Andrew » Fri Nov 07, 2008 7:16 pm UTC

tehmikey wrote:Personally, I think that some people are more fit to vote than others. I think that it is important to understand the basic tax process and how the economy works. Sadly, this means that many people currently in power in our government would become unfit to hold power. Also, it would inevitably end up with a corrupt minority seizing complete power.


I agree that we'd make a lot more progress if the stupid and the ignorant didn't get a vote. This would last about an hour before some corrupt politician conned their way past the clever and well-informed and changed the voting criteria. Then, doom.

Letting everyone vote makes it hard to go forward, hence Bush, but it limits the rate at which we can go backwards too, hence Obama. In a two-party system, it limits neither very much. But the solution to that is to change the system, not to restrict voting. Governing the people is easy if you get to choose the people, but you have to work with what you're given.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Princess Marzipan » Sat Nov 08, 2008 2:45 am UTC

Malice wrote:
lazarus89 wrote:Starship Troopers: read it.

Service (not necessarily military) first, voting later.


This is based on the idea that the individual exists to benefit society; I believe that society exists to benefit the individual. I deserve a say in what my society does and does not impose on me, whether or not I have served other people in my society.


Yeah, seriously. Plus, even "earning" your vote does not guarantee that the information you're basing your vote on is correct. That's the problem in America - not that stupid people are voting; that even smart people are voting with bad information.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Mane » Sat Nov 08, 2008 3:43 pm UTC

No one should be allowed to vote.

Democracy has never really worked because it's based on the premise that human beings are rational agents, who base their voting on a careful and critical evaluation of the issues--but guess what, they don't. Humans are unbelievably easy to manipulate, look at the Milgram, look at advertising; for a real world example, look at the prop 8 vote, look at the tactics used by the Yes group.

Voting would be fine, as would democracy, if humans WERE rational agents, the same goes for Capitalism, it only benefits everyone *in theory*, in practice humans are all a bunch of greedy pigs who want more and more and more. Now, people with university level education do tend to vote better, more rationally, but even then we find that it still doesn't work.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby athelas » Sat Nov 08, 2008 4:07 pm UTC

Fundamentally the strength of democracy is not that it produces superior policy but that people feel like they have an outlet for grievances; it’s a social release valve to prevent buildup of tension. Totalitarian states can theoretically (self-interest issues aside) produce more efficient policies, but they are vulnerable to popular dissent - see China’s obsession over “social harmony.” The feeling of wielding power, however tiny a sliver you actually have, is itself a social good. If you want to be cynical, count it as protection money against the wrath of an ignored mob.

Still, tradeoffs can be made at the margin, and perhaps they should be further along the elitist side of the possibilities frontier. Unfortunately the choice seems less between government issues and matters of public choice, than between having government by voter input (with all their systematic biases) and government by technocrats. As someone who can appreciate the details of, for example, economic policy, the latter has its appeal, though I’d probably have a different view from a different social position.

It’s not a binary choice, and we’re not currently at the far people-power end. Government bureaus, including the Fed and so on, operate (somewhat) meritocratically with some supervision by politicians and little at all from actual voters. One of the reasons that science types were angered by Bush was that he politicized appointments to formerly meritocratic advisory boards, enacting the will of the people who elected him (particularly on stem-cell research) rather than supporting the needs of science as viewed by scientists. Popular vs. elite control of policy is a relevant tradeoff that we’re actually making, and it’s not at all clear to me that we’d be better off swinging it all the way to the populist end, educated public or not. The mere franchise is only part of the dilemma.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Kachi » Sat Nov 08, 2008 10:05 pm UTC

I think the voting process as it is now is pretty fundamentally solid. What this demonstrates more than anything is that people don't educate themselves. Much of that I think is that the education needed to make an informed vote is not especially accessible.

And I think transparency in government would go a long way in improving that. Educational literature needs to be available so that people aren't relying on chainmail.

Hm, I had a lot more to say about that, but I don't feel like it.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby TheAmazingRando » Sun Nov 09, 2008 12:59 am UTC

Mane wrote:No one should be allowed to vote.
So what, exactly, do you propose as a better solution? I'd prefer to have choice, even if it is often misinformed, than just be stuck with a leader who isn't accountable to us, and whose rise to power is based on money, might, or family. Those factors that make a person an autocrat are not related to the strength of their decisions. I'd rather have a faulty system of assurance in place than none at all.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby nazlfrag » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:32 pm UTC

I'm from Australia, and here we have compulsory voting in that everyone of age is expected to vote. No questions. In practice, all they do is make sure you turn up to the polling station, actually casting a valid vote is entirely optional, and deliberately miscasting is known as a donkey vote, and an accepted part of our system. In theory there are nominal fines levied for not voting, but these are rarely if ever levied in practice. It works well for what it is designed for, in that we have turnouts usually above 98%.

This system has been chastised for forcing the uninformed and disinterested to vote, but I believe it is a neccesary part of having a truly representational government, and encourages people to become informed and interested.

Some states in the USA already disenfranchise voters based on criminal history right? Are there any other groups restricted from voting like this?

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Malice » Sun Nov 09, 2008 3:57 pm UTC

nazlfrag wrote:I'm from Australia, and here we have compulsory voting in that everyone of age is expected to vote. No questions. In practice, all they do is make sure you turn up to the polling station, actually casting a valid vote is entirely optional, and deliberately miscasting is known as a donkey vote, and an accepted part of our system. In theory there are nominal fines levied for not voting, but these are rarely if ever levied in practice. It works well for what it is designed for, in that we have turnouts usually above 98%.


Does that mean 98% actually vote, as opposed to a "donkey vote" or whatever? Or does that mean 98% show up at the polling place?
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby qinwamascot » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:02 pm UTC

In the US, it varies by state, but in general convicted felons (those committing a crime with jail time >1 year) can not vote until a judge allows it again. But for smaller crimes, usually not.

The problem people here would have with compulsory voting is that many would not want to take off even an hour from their daily lives to go vote, and many times the lines are 5+ hours long.

lazarus89 wrote:Starship Troopers: read it.

Service (not necessarily military) first, voting later.

I don't vote because I don't think I've earned franchise... yet.


I certainly wouldn't do service to a country that didn't at least listen to what I have to say, be it a democracy or a dictatorship. I'll do service, but only once they give me the right to vote and treat me like a valuable member of society. I really hated Starship Troopers, and I reject the premise that our government should work in any way like that.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby ++$_ » Sun Nov 09, 2008 11:56 pm UTC

In theory, the only people who should vote are the people who will make the best possible choices for the nation. I think this means the most rational people.

In practice, there's no way to tell who these people are, and no way to ensure that they do in fact make that best possible choice, rather than a choice in their self-interest that is then given the aura of rationality. So it's a horrible idea. This is why we should let everyone vote (once they're over a certain age, which should probably be in the 17-21 range somewhere).

Or, we could not have a democracy. But that's moving in a totally different direction.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Kizyr » Mon Nov 10, 2008 4:26 pm UTC

Mane wrote:Voting would be fine, as would democracy, if humans WERE rational agents, the same goes for Capitalism, it only benefits everyone *in theory*, in practice humans are all a bunch of greedy pigs who want more and more and more. Now, people with university level education do tend to vote better, more rationally, but even then we find that it still doesn't work.

I would respond to the bit about voting, but athelas basically knocked it out of the park with that one, and I couldn't put it any better.

But, I would like to point out that much of economic theory is based on the premise that people generally act in their own self-interest (which could be interpreted as being greedy, depending on how you want to look at it). So, being greedy is not the same as being irrational. But, getting into a discussion on economics would start to take this off-topic.

++$_ wrote:In theory, the only people who should vote are the people who will make the best possible choices for the nation. I think this means the most rational people.

Like the electoral college!

A lot of these ideas were things considered by the Constitutional Convention since, at the time, Democracy was often seen as similar to mob rule. But, I think why the American system in particular has endured so well is precisely because of the limits placed on democracy by the Constitution. In other words, there's democratic input, but there are still limitations placed on what the government can do. So, even if the majority wants to prohibit practice of a particular religion, government doesn't have that right. Even if the majority wants to ban all firearms, government doesn't have that right. Even if the majority wants to do away with due process, government doesn't have that right. Yes, there have been periods of history where the government has overstepped its bounds, but eventually it gets back on track. KF
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby swamprat » Tue Nov 11, 2008 5:25 am UTC

Malice wrote:
Does that mean 98% actually vote, as opposed to a "donkey vote" or whatever? Or does that mean 98% show up at the polling place?


Also from Australia. Generally a 98% turn out with invalid ballots counting for 5.18% in the 2004 elections. Invalid ballots include not filling out the numbers sequentially, using crosses/ticks instead of numbers, not a proper pre-signed ballot or the marking of the ballot in other ways (known as marks or scribbles). Marks/scribbles made up 14.27% of invalid ballots in 2004. The increase in the number of invalid ballots from the 2001 to the 2004 elections is accounted for completely by the increase in "marks/scribbles' form of invalid ballot.

however, this does not take into account the usual definition of donkey voting, ie going 1, 2 , 3, 4 down the boxes, as this is a valid vote, even though it may in most cases represent a throwaway vote (ie the voter not careing about the election). Generally appearing on the top box gives a 1-2% boost to the number of first preference votes recieved, although this effect is generally minimised during the distribution of prefernences.

Turn outs in local elections however is shit. A recent territory election had turnouts of around 60%

http://www.aec.gov.au/pdf/research/papers/paper7/research_paper7.pdf
Here is a report on it if you are interested further

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EDIT: Also, whoever suggested that party affiliations should be removed from the ballot, that is a bad idea. It encourages people running spoiler candidates who have the same name as the main opposition candidate. This occured in the NT (Australian Territory) election a few years ago, where a Labor candidate of the name Shane Stone ran against the leader of the opposition (CLP) Shane Stone in one electorate. The Labor Shane Stone was just a ring-in but still pulled a percentage of hte votes far greater than would have been expected for a Labor candidate in that seat. Listing party affiliation is an easy way to minimise these shenanigans

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Tue Nov 18, 2008 4:32 am UTC

tehmikey wrote:All valid points. I am stuck on the idea that a role of leadership should be filled by the most capable person.


I'm not.

Stable societies work bette than societies that change rapidly. Capable leaders can push through rapid change according to whatever aims they are trying to achieve with their leadership, good or bad. Capable leadership enables evil just as often as it enables good. I'm sure we can all think of very capable leaders who their countries were nonetheless better off without.

Mediocre leadership, despite its flaws, still protects us from the worst. Throwing a large number of idiots into the decision making process helps to weed out some of the most capable, while term limits keep out the charismatic types who can nonetheless inspire mass support.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Andrew » Tue Nov 18, 2008 5:13 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:
tehmikey wrote:All valid points. I am stuck on the idea that a role of leadership should be filled by the most capable person.


I'm not.

Stable societies work bette than societies that change rapidly. Capable leaders can push through rapid change according to whatever aims they are trying to achieve with their leadership, good or bad. Capable leadership enables evil just as often as it enables good. I'm sure we can all think of very capable leaders who their countries were nonetheless better off without.

Mediocre leadership, despite its flaws, still protects us from the worst. Throwing a large number of idiots into the decision making process helps to weed out some of the most capable, while term limits keep out the charismatic types who can nonetheless inspire mass support.


I think you're using different definitions of 'capable' there. Obviously if your leader is actually evil you'd rather he was also incompetent, but presumably the aim is to get someone who is both competent in achieving their aims and whose aims are benevolent. Your argument seems to be that we should fill all leadership roles with people too stupid to accomplish anything so that if they turn nasty at least they won't be able to do much damage. (Do your own GWB joke.)

Can we assume that in this context 'capable' means 'capable of doing what the people want/need and inclined to do so' rather than 'capable of fulfilling their own set of personal objectives'? I'm pretty sure that there are better ways of limiting government power than electing morons.

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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Philwelch » Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:47 pm UTC

Andrew wrote:I think you're using different definitions of 'capable' there. Obviously if your leader is actually evil you'd rather he was also incompetent, but presumably the aim is to get someone who is both competent in achieving their aims and whose aims are benevolent.


"Benevolent" isn't enough. People can commit the greatest evils out of the best intentions.

Andrew wrote:Your argument seems to be that we should fill all leadership roles with people too stupid to accomplish anything so that if they turn nasty at least they won't be able to do much damage. (Do your own GWB joke.)


Not stupid, just mediocre. Not GWB, but maybe Gerald Ford. I don't want government by brilliant and charismatic leaders who are capable of organizing men to do great things, I want government by dull, faceless bureaucrats.

Andrew wrote:Can we assume that in this context 'capable' means 'capable of doing what the people want/need and inclined to do so' rather than 'capable of fulfilling their own set of personal objectives'? I'm pretty sure that there are better ways of limiting government power than electing morons.


What makes you think we're better off when the leaders do what the people want? The people are hateful, bigoted, envious, and easily swayed by propaganda.
Fascism: If you're not with us you're against us.
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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Ixtellor » Tue Nov 18, 2008 9:55 pm UTC

Vaniver wrote:
Gunfingers wrote:The greatest trick the two-party system ever pulled was convincing the world it exists. The US would be a much better place if we could collectively pull our heads out of our asses and realize that we have more options than just the two big paradigms.
This is the result of the voting system. Once again, range voting would be the most effective and easiest democratic reform out there.

I am uncomfortable with the idea of an elected body which decides who gets to vote. The possibilities that are bad outweigh the possibilities that are good.


My ballot this year was 15 pages long. Range voting, would be the most arbitrary metic I can think of. People can't even name the candidates on page 12, or the office, or have any clue what any of them stand for, so range voting would be meaningless. It would all come down to party affiliation or sympathy.

I stand by the premise: Uninformed morons have the right to vote for who is going to represent them.
We aren't talking about electing our leaders, we are talking about the people who are going to represent us. And educated or not, I think everyone (of legal voting age) deserves to pick those people who are going to be making decisions on their behalf.



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Re: The Right to Vote

Postby Andrew » Wed Nov 19, 2008 11:26 pm UTC

Philwelch wrote:"Benevolent" isn't enough. People can commit the greatest evils out of the best intentions.

Yes, that's where "capable" comes in.

Philwelch wrote:Not stupid, just mediocre. Not GWB, but maybe Gerald Ford. I don't want government by brilliant and charismatic leaders who are capable of organizing men to do great things, I want government by dull, faceless bureaucrats.

They do the same evils as charismatic leaders, just more slowly. Surely there's a more systematic method for limiting government power than slowing it down using idiots? Such as, say, enforcing the constitution from time to time? If the options are to limit government power officially or to limit it by watering down the competence then surely the former is always better?

Philwelch wrote:What makes you think we're better off when the leaders do what the people want? The people are hateful, bigoted, envious, and easily swayed by propaganda.

They are, but they're the ones being governed, so you pretty well have to give them a say at some point. Then you ignore anything they say that's demonstrably crazy, by enforcing a constitution that phrases some relatively liberal ideals in such general terms that nobody could possibly object and is actually a bit surprised when their right-wing lunacy turns out to go against it.


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