qn about voter turnout in US

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chad
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qn about voter turnout in US

Post by chad » Tue Nov 02, 2004 6:07 am

hi all, since i know nothing about american law or politics, and i just heard on the news that less than 50% of voters usually turn up to vote in the US, i was wondering what people thought about whether it's better for voting to be mandatory or voluntary. it's not a big issue, but i can definitely see 2 sides to it:

under a mandatory system (like ours in australia), politicians have to pander to the whole nation, not just the more politically active who are more likely to vote. i.e. autralian politicians have to cater to the bland apathetic bulk of the nation on general issues, so that their political platforms will be blander and less extreme/far-right or far-left, whereas voters under an optional system probably are turning up because they have a firm view one way or another, which could lead to more extreme politics. that's a plus for the mandatory system in my mind.

however under a mandatory system, to win, a major party simply has to out-do the other side--which in our recent election was too easy for one side--whereas under an optional-voting system, a party has to independently generate enough momentum to get people to come out to vote for them, actually motivate them to vote for one particular party: that could lead to better policy, rather than just out-doing the other side. that's a negative of the mandatory system in my mind...

i have zero interest in politics and conflict in general, so if this gets into a sided debate i'll just avoid this thread altogether, but i was wondering what you thought on this more general (neutral) question of mandatory v optional :)

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Post by Eureka » Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:23 am

Hi Chad. In my opinion, mandatory voting is absurd, because it means the election outcome is decided by those who care the least, the estimated 10-20% :shock: of voters who don't make up their minds until election day. They may sound like people who have open minds, but in reality, they are people who never put much thought into their decision.

I'd say that voluntary voting is only very slightly responsible for the extremism in foreign elections, if at all. After all, Belgium has compulsory voting, and it's far-right party is as strong as many of its European equivalents. The extremism in those countries would be largely the result of divisions within the populus, not a characteristic of the electoral system.


The most noticeable effect of compulsory voting is on the style of campaigning: Any politicians with anything approaching a bold plan get severely punished (e.g. Latham, Hewson, even Howard nearly lost in 1999 after one term in Government, which would be very unusual). This is because compulsory voting markedly increases the effect of scare-campaigns, because you don't need to scare people enough to make them get out to vote.


P.S. I don't think you'll start a fight with this one, because it's not really a left-right issue.
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Post by Rhuiden » Tue Nov 02, 2004 12:15 pm

I do not believe that manditory voting is a good idea. That forces people who have no interest in politics and have no idea what the issues are to make an uninformed choice. This seems like a formula for disaster. It would also make elections into nothing but popularity and name recognition contests (even more so than they already are).

I recently heard Neal Boortz (a radio talk show host based in Atlanta) address the voting issue. He proposed that voters should be required to pass a simple test before they are allowed to vote to prove that they have some knowledge of how government works and who is involved. He proposed questions like: "name your state representative", "who are the candidates for a particular office". Nothing outrageous but enough to prove that they have been paying attention and have a basic knowledge of how government works. I am not suggesting that this be implemented (it would never pass in the US, and the Constitution would have to be amended) but to pass along an interesting alternative to further this discussion.



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Post by Emma_85 » Tue Nov 02, 2004 7:26 pm

I think mandatory voting is a good idea. In a democracy everyone is supposed to rule and if people don't go out and vote for what they want they just moan later anyway even if they didn't vote. The people should be forced to tell the politicans what they want, I see no problem in that at all.
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Post by Rhuiden » Tue Nov 02, 2004 8:51 pm

What is the penalty for people who choose not to vote in countries that have manditory voting?

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Post by Turpissimus » Tue Nov 02, 2004 9:38 pm

You may be interested to know that in countries that have mandatory voting, candidates whose names begin with letters found at the beginning of the alphabet do markedly better that those with letters found later.

You can force people to vote, Emma, but you cannot force them to make an informed decision.
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Post by Eureka » Tue Nov 02, 2004 10:09 pm

Turpissimus wrote:You may be interested to know that in countries that have mandatory voting, candidates whose names begin with letters found at the beginning of the alphabet do markedly better that those with letters found later.

You can force people to vote, Emma, but you cannot force them to make an informed decision.
That's why, in Australia, ballots aren't alphabetical. They draw the ballots up randomly. That doesn't alleviate the problem, but it does stop politicians from all changing their name to Aardvark.


Rhuiden, the penalty is a $20 fine (which is almost never actually inforced).
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Post by tdominus » Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:38 am

As an Australian I find it interesting that people believe the US elections will have more educated voters through not being mandatory.

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Post by Kasper » Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:52 am

however under a mandatory system, to win, a major party simply has to out-do the other side--which in our recent election was too easy for one side--whereas under an optional-voting system, a party has to independently generate enough momentum to get people to come out to vote for them, actually motivate them to vote for one particular party: that could lead to better policy, rather than just out-doing the other side. that's a negative of the mandatory system in my mind...
Chad, I don't think this problem lies with a mandatory system, but with a 2-party system.

I've lived in Holland for some 20 years and about 5 in Australia now. In Holland there are many parties and there is always the need to form coalition unlike in Australia's 2-party system. I believe that the 2-party system with its "you lose so I win" atmosphere is the cause of the sad state of politics in countries where this system is maintained. Besides, in any multicultural society a 2 party system is retarded.

Ps. I'm undecided on whether mandatory voting is better or not.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Eureka » Wed Nov 03, 2004 7:18 am

tdominus wrote:As an Australian I find it interesting that people believe the US elections will have more educated voters through not being mandatory.
That's not exactly what I said. I said that compulsory voting decreases the awareness of the average voter, not that every county with voluntary voting will necessarily have better informed voters than every country with compulsory voting.
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Post by Eureka » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:16 am

Kasper wrote:Chad, I don't think this problem lies with a mandatory system, but with a 2-party system.

I've lived in Holland for some 20 years and about 5 in Australia now. In Holland there are many parties and there is always the need to form coalition unlike in Australia's 2-party system. I believe that the 2-party system with its "you lose so I win" atmosphere is the cause of the sad state of politics in countries where this system is maintained. Besides, in any multicultural society a 2 party system is retarded.
As long as you have a parliamentary system, it will gravitate toward a two-party system. After all, to win you need a majority of seats; that means two permanent coalitions tend to form. These coalitions aren't very different from individual political parties, after a while.
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Post by tdominus » Wed Nov 03, 2004 2:19 pm

Eureka wrote:
tdominus wrote:As an Australian I find it interesting that people believe the US elections will have more educated voters through not being mandatory.
That's not exactly what I said. I said that compulsory voting decreases the awareness of the average voter, not that every county with voluntary voting will necessarily have better informed voters than every country with compulsory voting.
:) Is it possible that an informed voter may adopt a policy of apoliteia?

That is my point - that you presume that increased awareness leads to voting. Perhaps it does in general but I don't think it is guaranteed in every case. I know many americans who consider Bush and Kerry to be virtually identical, yet one or the other was certain to win, and so won't bother voting for either.

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Post by Emma_85 » Wed Nov 03, 2004 4:31 pm

I think that if you are forced to vote, people will actually be more interested in politics, I also totally agree with Kasper on the two-party system, it is just so outdated especially in large countries.
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Post by Kopio » Wed Nov 03, 2004 6:24 pm

I dont' think mandatory voting would go over well in America. We get pretty touchy when people tell us we have to do something like vote, etc. It's one of those "this country is built on freedom" kind of things that would stick in a lot of people's craws. That's also why unions are still fairly strong in the USA....we want our rights and freedoms ensured.

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Post by Kasper » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:09 pm

Eureka wrote:
Kasper wrote:Chad, I don't think this problem lies with a mandatory system, but with a 2-party system.

I've lived in Holland for some 20 years and about 5 in Australia now. In Holland there are many parties and there is always the need to form coalition unlike in Australia's 2-party system. I believe that the 2-party system with its "you lose so I win" atmosphere is the cause of the sad state of politics in countries where this system is maintained. Besides, in any multicultural society a 2 party system is retarded.
As long as you have a parliamentary system, it will gravitate toward a two-party system. After all, to win you need a majority of seats; that means two permanent coalitions tend to form. These coalitions aren't very different from individual political parties, after a while.
No it doesn't. There is no 'winning' as such. Speaking only for Holland, being under 40 I lack sufficient experience and insight to speak of other nations that have this system, (and Holland having nearly the same size population as Australia I think it will do), various coalitions are formed between various parties depending on the election outcome. Naturally the 'christian' right-wing parties will not form a coalition with a communist party, in so far you are right, but there is a certain balance of power, I do not believe one party has ever been able to be in full control.
E.g. in Australia with the Liberals having a majority in both houses, we simply don't have a democracy for the next 3 years. In a multi party system this could never happen.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Emma_85 » Wed Nov 03, 2004 10:41 pm

viewtopic.php?t=2681&start=100
Kasper, I've tried to explain the German system a bit in this thread.

@Kopio: I'd always been under the impression that workers had very few rights in the US and that the unions were quite weak. :?

I see what you mean Kopio about forcing ppl to vote. But it would just be another law really. You are forced to do other things like pay taxes for example...
I'm not too sure about compulsory voting myself though, but I don't think it's such a bad idea and at first it really does sound like your being forced to do something you don't want to, but I don't know - the more I think about it the more I think that that is not really so true.
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Post by Eureka » Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:06 am

Kasper wrote:No it doesn't. There is no 'winning' as such. Speaking only for Holland, being under 40 I lack sufficient experience and insight to speak of other nations that have this system, (and Holland having nearly the same size population as Australia I think it will do), various coalitions are formed between various parties depending on the election outcome. Naturally the 'christian' right-wing parties will not form a coalition with a communist party, in so far you are right, but there is a certain balance of power, I do not believe one party has ever been able to be in full control.
E.g. in Australia with the Liberals having a majority in both houses, we simply don't have a democracy for the next 3 years. In a multi party system this could never happen.
I was perhaps wrongly assuming that every coalition ends up like the Liberal/Nationals. If they are not permanent alliances or solid ideological blocks, then it is a good thing. (e.g. With the Nats, you didn't even recognise their existance when you said the Libs control the senate. That's how independent they are.)
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Post by Democritus » Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:10 am

Emma_85 wrote:viewtopic.php?t=2681&start=100
Kasper, I've tried to explain the German system a bit in this thread.
I think that U.S. states should adopt the German system in the lower house of each legislature. The U.S. Congress is bicameral for a specific reason, but in most cases the bicameral nature of state legislatures is superfluous. But we might as well make use of this curious feature. We should adopt proportional representation in one house of a state's legislature. That way one half could use a new system, while the other house sticks with the tried and true system.

I don't think such a change could ever really happen, short of a thundering voter revolt, because it would be a direct threat to the "duopoly" of Republicans and Democrats. But it's interesting to imagine such a system.

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Post by Kasper » Thu Nov 04, 2004 1:34 am

Eureka wrote: (e.g. With the Nats, you didn't even recognise their existance when you said the Libs control the senate.
Indeed, Nationals or Liberals - the same thing.
Democritus wrote: The U.S. Congress is bicameral for a specific reason, but in most cases the bicameral nature of state legislatures is superfluous. But we might as well make use of this curious feature. We should adopt proportional representation in one house of a state's legislature. That way one half could use a new system, while the other house sticks with the tried and true system.
I am very much in favor of a bicameral government (except in Australia at present where one party has a majority in both houses). Also I agree with the proportional representation. From an historical point of view both the 2-party system and the electorates makes sense, but not any more. Certainly with modern technology proportional representation could easily be realised.

If we have to stick with democracy that is...
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Rhuiden » Thu Nov 04, 2004 2:45 am

Kasper wrote:If we have to stick with democracy that is...
What form of government would you prefer?

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Post by Kasper » Thu Nov 04, 2004 3:23 am

I'm really not sure, to tell you the truth Rhuiden. I suppose there is no 'one-size-fits-all' type of government.

I think every historical form of government was probably appropriate for the stage of social development at the time, but I cannot help but think democracy has run its course. Then now what? I don't know.

I think, historically speaking, that we will revert back to a dictatorial style of government (also see Phaedus' ranae regem petentes (I think its called)).

Then again, call me pessimist, I'm quite sure Western Civilisation as such has run its course. We will further descend into decadence and poor government eventually leading to us being overcome by a neighbouring civilisation which still has the drive of religion (indeed I think it will be Islam - I foresee your horror at my prophecy Rhuiden)

I honestly believe that every civilisation evolves as follows:
chaos - religion - military expansionism - scientific development - cultural & economic development - wealth - decadence - poor government - civil unrest - decay - chaos - and start again.

Of course no stage ever wholly excludes the others.

Every stage has their own appropriate form of government: the religious stage a Theocracy, the militaristic stage a monarchy, then some sort of mixture of democracy and democracy (perhaps feudalism), then pure democracy and then things start falling apart.

I have no scientific proof for my theory as yet. When I am rich I intend to spend my fortune on proving it though.
I may end poor and homeless...
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by Rhuiden » Thu Nov 04, 2004 3:44 am

Kasper, have you studied any of the end time prophesies? What you have described is fairly close to what the Bible says will happen. I am referring to the rise of the anti-Christ during the Tribulation. But that discussion is for another time and thread......

As far as the decent of western civilization into "decadence and poor government", that is happening now. All you have to do is read the newspapers or watch the tv news to see it.

Your forsight was well founded as I was quite horrified by your prophesy concerning Islam. I do not disagree with your primis but I do not believe that it will be Islam or even a religion at. I believe that the "neighboring civilization" will actually be the UN.

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Post by Kasper » Thu Nov 04, 2004 4:17 am

Rhuiden, no I haven't studied end-of-time prophecies. I just have a basic knowledge of civilisation since the Greeks, really nothing in depth. I might have a look at chinese civilisation and the whole idea might be blown out the window!

At the moment I'm juggling a full-time job, an off-campus law degree and some latin and greek for my amusement, I will have to leave the idea for later I'm afraid.

However, if you could give me a passage in the bible that speaks of this stuff, I'd be very interested.

As for the UN, I believe it is part of western civilisation and not a seperate one. Islam is of course not a civilisation but the religion of the arab civilisation. I think the Arabs will be next 'in charge'.
“Cum ego verbo utar,” Humpty Dumpty dixit voce contempta, “indicat illud quod optem – nec plus nec minus.”
“Est tamen rogatio” dixit Alice, “an efficere verba tot res indicare possis.”
“Rogatio est, “Humpty Dumpty responsit, “quae fiat magister – id cunctum est.”

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Post by classicalclarinet » Thu Nov 04, 2004 4:24 am

In five hundred years, perhaps....

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Post by Rhuiden » Thu Nov 04, 2004 4:26 am

A good place to start on the end times is to read Revelation. Much of it is difficult to understand but well worth the time to read it. Other passages are scattered throughout the Bible.

Rhuiden

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