Should the NDP push for compulsory voting?

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Uncle John

I can't admit they are pining for revolution, however the following seem to be common lines:

"Don't vote, it only encourages them"

"Don't blame me, I didn't vote"

"It doesn't matter who you vote for, the Man always wins"

"If voting could change anything, it would be against the law"

There is an increasing sense that some of us are not paying our fair share, causing things to fall apart for the rest of us. ("Tax cuts" and "Budget Cuts"). The NDP have said they only want to change things "at the margins" of the current state of affairs. Obama campaigned on Change and is winding up to be about the same as GWB. It is not just the Canadian Liberal Party that campaigns on the left and governs from the right.

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

6079_Smith_W wrote:

Mandatory voting is a way of letting them know they can not be turned away, and if it gives a little kick in the pants to those who have never learned to vote that is not such a bad thing either, IMO.

is that little kick in the pants with a frozen mukluk?  As for not turning away people forget it they will still not allow people without ID to vote.  They will still not allow non-citizens to vote.  Your panacea will not stop the kind of abuse that comes when right wing assholes think anyone who isn't middle class looking and white isn't a citizen.  It will just force people to undergo the nasty dirty tricks.


In short, no need to buy a new fleet of Black Marias. You'd be surprised how many people pay attention and actually do something when you simply say it is mandatory.

Is this the new left view; "the solution to all our societal problems can either be fixed with a new coercive law or a tax break."  

I thought the NDP was offering something different than that old prescription?   Societal problems, including a citizenry that has disengaged from our political process, are complex issues that require more than a simplistic law and order agenda.

You are saying it will not be enforced because people will just obey like good sheep.  I think that without enforcement it will become a source of pride to have not voted.  I will never vote again if you tell me I have to and I have not missed voting in an election since 1972.   

I believe the people you are trying to force to vote would have a major overlap with the people who smoke pot and couldn't give a flying fuck whether its illegal. Even though they know that they might go to jail if caught.  They are not sheep though apparently most of the people you know are.


Northern Shoveler wrote:

So one more time Brian if you get this law I will ignore it and not vote for the first time in 40 years.  I will also refuse to pay any fine.  What are you proposing to do to me?

I don't know about Brian - but if that's your pledge, NS, I'm voting for you!!

Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Vote for me I'll reduce the interest on the credit card you have been paying the food bills with since you lost your job.  If you don't think the system is relevant we also want you to pay a special tax for "lazy' people.  

Now that is winning platform.  Do you people really think the NDP should run on this as an election plank or just impose a new law on people after the election without having proposed it?

If you are proposing this as a plank then I am really glad you are not in charge of campaigns.  


@ NS

No... actually I think the truth lies somewhere in between my position and the one you wrote (and which I also happen to largely  agree with). 

Do I think a mandatory vote will result in 100% results? No, and I don't think it has to in order to produce some results. 

And if you haven't seen this yet, here is a bot of background on all sides of the argument. I'll draw your attention to the rules in Argentina. You can refuse to vote. You just have to show up and say so. 

Personally, I could live with a rule like that just fine. Don't vote all you want, but make it a clear choice.


Northern Shoveler Northern Shoveler's picture

Argentina has had compulsory voting for almost a century.  Did it stop their body politic from descending into the chaos of right wing dictatorship?  The Dutch had it and repealed it and the last time I looked the Netherlands is one of the more progressives states in the world.

They had over 80% turnout for their own parliamentary elections and only 40% turnout for the EU elections.  I do not believe for a minute the difference has anything to do with laziness.  It has to do with a population who is disengaged with the whole EU process despite the fact they seem to be sophisticated in local politics.

By the way Argentinians, in their own countries elections, have a lower voter turnout than the Dutch .  So much for the law determining peoples voting habits. In a country with a hundred year old compulsory law they have less than 75% turnout for the last number of elections.  In a country where they have been ruled by a brutal murderous dictatorship. In another country they tried it and abandoned it and they have higher turnouts.  

I tend to give Canadians credit for actually understanding the deep disconnect between the political process and their daily lives and don't see not participating as laziness.


Northern Shoveler wrote:

If you are proposing this as a plank then I am really glad you are not in charge of campaigns.  



And say we do give a $15 incentive to voters.  Well, you just raised the cost of an election by $500 million dollars.  Great idea. Smashing.


While I don't think that a country with a tradition of democracy like the Netherlands and one with a tradition of authoritarianism like Argentina are good for comparison purposes, I think that the key is getting people to vote for the first time.  The earlier a young person votes, the more likely it is that they will vote in future electons.  I am still trying to find that study online which shows that to be true but have not had success. I think it reasonable to conclude part of the reason for the Netherlands high vote turnout in national elections relates to a tradition of voting in them, partly the result of having had compulsory voting in the past.

I suspect that if Australia did away with compulsory voting, they would continue to have turnout in the 80% and above range for many years.  I think that having compulsory voting for one election would positively impact turnout for many elections thereafter.

I do not think that compulsory voting should take the place of proportional voting in the NDP platform.  So, I do not think it should be a "plank"  in any election.  I don't think proportional voting should be a plank for the NDP any more than removing the vote subsidy is for the Conservatives.  I think we should say that we are going to do it in between elections and then do it after the election (if the party should be successful).  It is not one of the most important of the party's policies that need to be show-cased during an election.

I think that making it known that the party is going to encourage youth voting and then taking that task seriously would be a better campaign strategy.  From what  I saw here in Yellowknife, the "vote mob" idea was warmly welcomed by all the political parties except the Conservatives.  I realize that the Conservatives were not inviting anyone but committed Conservative voters to their events but they were quite forward in not allowing the "vote mob" near Harper while both Ignateiff and Layton put emphasis on welcoming the young voters to their events. 

I believe that anything that gets people to participate in democracy is a good thing and not only because I believe it would lead to a high probability of New Democrats being elected.


VanGoghs Ear

the truth is that people who don't vote- don't care mainly because they're lives are comfortable enough to be able to not care, have never voted and figure why start now, don't think it matters which party wins which is related to first reason and a general intentional ignorance of politics(most people don't watch all the news or read every section of a newspaper)

Catchfire Catchfire's picture

long thread


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