by Neville Kennard, preaching and practising capitalist
The democratic right not to vote must surely be an important aspect of a democracy.
There are several reasons I choose not to vote.
The first is that I object to coercion. If someone says I must do something, then I need to know why. It needs to make good sense and not just be a government decree. Australia is one of very few countries where voting is compulsory, so this surely says something.
A non-vote is actually a vote — of no confidence, of apathy, of objection, so non-votes send a message too. “I don’t vote, it only encourages them” is a quote I heard once.
Another is I nearly always don’t like any of the candidates. Choosing the less-bad candidate is surely not a moral thing to do. If a bad candidate gets chosen over a very bad candidate, this winning candidate will think that his or her policies have been endorsed. He or she wins, when really it is more correct to say that he or she didn’t lose.
I live in several places and don’t know, or care, or feel I even have the right to vote for someone I don’t know; I am happy for those who do know and do care to vote for their candidate and let the result be what it will be. There are honourable, well-intentioned, diligent people who stand for office, and thank goodness. There are also shonks, party hacks, incompetents who can barely do anything else, who stand and actually get elected, either because they are part of the party machine, or are the “less-bad” choice. Many politicians and political candidates are not very nice people. Many could not run a business, though they seek to run the economy and the lives of the people. Many have an agenda to tax and then to spend on their pet cause, or to get re-elected. I choose not to endorse such people.
In a democracy, 50% of the voters are under-average IQ, and this is not encouraging. To be ruled by people chosen by average and under-average intelligence is not inspiring. Thank goodness there does seem to be a reasonable collective-intelligence in the electorate that mostly chooses not-too-bad representatives, so the system does work, sort of.
And who does get to vote? Among the electorate are all sorts of non-contributors, welfare recipients, people on the public purse, tax non-payers, even public servants and politicians get to vote. I say that voting should be a privilege and not a right and only those who contribute by way of net tax payments should be entitled to vote.
Then there is question of a slim majority choosing a less-bad candidate and that candidate and his party then having the “mandate” to do more-or-less whatever they want.
Lastly there is the question of it not really being compulsory to vote anyway: with a secret ballot you don’t have to vote, you just have to have your name crossed off the list and then you put in a blank, an informal or no paper at all. So it’s a waste of time and energy to go to the polling place and place a non-vote. That would be the height of stupidity. Reason, I believe, ultimately prevails, so compulsory voting will one day be abolished.
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- The Electoral Act should allow voters to choose "none of the above"
- Australia's First Official Political Party Poet Laureate: The Progress Party's Ken Hood in 1979
- Bert Kelly says end compulsory voting to stop donkey vote
- One small step on the compulsory voting landmine