Voting Should Be Compulsory

Topics: Liberalism, Democracy, Political philosophy Pages: 65 (2052 words) Published: July 6, 2013
Justine
 Lacroix
  Fifth
 Re-­‐Bel
 Event
  9th
 June
 2011
  Should
 the
 obligation
 to
 vote
 be
 abolished?
  …………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………  
 
 
  Is
 Compulsory
 Voting
 Justified
 in
 a
 Liberal
 Democracy
 ?
 

The
  normative
  debate
  on
  compulsory
  voting
  has
  recently
  known
  a
  revival
  in
  political
 theory1.
 One
 of
 the
 main
 issues
 at
 stake
 is
 whether
 compulsory
 voting
 should
 be
  considered
 as
 a
 liberal
 or
 as
 an
 illiberal
 practice.
 In
 this
 presentation,
 I
 will
 first
 consider
  the
 arguments
 put
 forward
 by
 the
 authors
 who
 consider
 that
 compulsory
 voting
 has
 no
  place
 in
 a
 liberal
 democracy.
 Against
 this
 conception,
 I
 will
 argue
 that
 compulsory
 voting
  is
 not
 only
 permissible
 by
 liberal
 standards,
 but
 actively
 required
 by
 them.
 
 
  I.
 
  To
  be
  sure,
  all
  authors
  recognize
  that
  most
  liberals
  regard
  political
  participation
  as
  both
  intrinsically
  and
  instrumentally
  desirable.
  But
  the
  fact
  that
  liberals
  have
  historically
  championed
  the
  right
  to
  vote
  in
  no
  way
  commits
  them
  to
  an
  endorsement
  of
  compulsory
  voting.
  ‘For
  clearly
  it
  is
  one
  thing
  to
  fight
  for
  the
  right
  of
  all
  to
 be
 allowed
 to
 vote,
 and
 quite
 another
 to
 uphold
 a
 principle
 whereby
 all
 are
 made
 to
  do
  so’
  (Austin,
  2008).
  More
  precisely,
  the
  opponents
  to
  compulsory
  voting
  consider
  it
  to
  be
 a
 violation
 of
 political
 liberalism
 for
 at
 least
 two
 reasons.
 
 
  Compulsory
 voting
 violates
 individual
 liberty
 
  The
  first
  argument
  against
  compulsory
  voting
  hinges
  on
  the
  principle
  that
  individual
  liberty
  should
  prevail
  over
  other
  democratic
  ideals
  such
  as
  equality
  and
  participation.
 The
 refusal
 of
 compulsory
 voting
 is
 thus
 buttressed
 on
 the
 postulate
 that
  citizens
 must
 be
 free
 to
 decide
 of
 they
 choose
 to
 vote
 or
 not.
 
 All
 citizens
 should
 have
 the
  right
  to
  be
  apolitical
  and
  the
  act
  of
  voting
  must
  remain
  a
  personal
  choice,
  not
  an
  obligation.
 
 
  More
  precisely,
  compulsory
  voting
  would
  conflict
  with
  a
  number
  of
  liberal
  commitments,
 such
 as
 free
 thought,
 free
 speech
 and
 privacy.
 In
 a
 liberal
 society,
 the
 right
  to
 remain
 silent
 is
 a
 crucial
 one,
 not
 only
 when
 one
 is
 being
 interrogated
 by
 the
 police
  but
  also
  when
  one’s
  political
  view
  are
  asked.
  At
  democratic
  elections,
  this
  right

References:   (2008),
  “Is
 (2009),
 “Why
  (2011),
  “Compulsory
  Annabelle
  (2008),
  (2007),
  “A
 (2009),
 “Liberalism,
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