Compulsory Voting: Elections, Not Referendums
Pandora's Box, Vol. 18, pp. 19-30, 2011
12 Pages Posted: 24 Dec 2011
Date Written: August 30, 2011
Intractable debate about compulsory voting is waged on an axis between the egalitarian-instrumental (it increases turnout) and the libertarian-deontological (there's a right not to vote). Scant attention has been paid to the underlying nature of the voting choice itself.
I argue that it is right to compel turnout at elections, but wrong to compel it at referendums. Electoral issues are multifarious, and government is for all: it is right that everyone's voice should be heard equally at election time. Referendums however are typically discrete topics, often of a legal form. It is wrong to demand that all citizens have an opinion on them.
Keywords: Compulsory Voting, Election Law, Referendums, Political Rights, Suffrage, Franchise
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