Both Liberal & Labor fear democratic voting

by on 4 January, 2013

Who needs good leadership when the people don’t have a choice, when our political parties don’t need to motivate support from the people? All they need to do is be slightly less repulsive than the other guys and compulsory voting does the rest.

Recently I wrote an article about Australia’s slide towards
totalitarianism
and how compulsory voting centralizes the major political parties
at the totalitarian end of the political spectrum. The recent debate over
electoral reform is an example of this.

On the right, the Liberals oppose automatic voter registration. They prefer
to maintain a bureaucratic impediment to voting. They want it to be more
difficult for people to vote.

On the left, the Labor party opposes voluntary voting. They prefer to
force people against their will to the polling booth with fines enforceable
with force.

In most democracies voting is democratic, which means people are free
to choose whether they vote or not – their decision to vote is free from
government coercion. In many nations voter registration is also automatic
so 100% of the people have maximum freedom to cast a vote at the drop of a hat.
This is how it should be – maximum freedom and maximum control in the hands of
the people, with minimal interference from government.

This is where Australia is so far out of step. Here, both parties
oppose electoral freedom. Both parties oppose the basic democratic right common
throughout the developed world. One side wants to make it harder for people to
vote and the other side wants to force people to vote. Neither side wants to
empower the people.

Only nine other nations in the world enforce compulsory voting and while
several countries have abolished it in recent decades, Australia is now making
our system even less free.

Our political duopoly’s power struggle drives people away from the
political process and creates political apathy. This is one of the reasons why
many nations with voluntary voting have higher voter turnouts than we do. Under
compulsory voting, political parties don’t need to motivate their base, or
anyone, to vote. We’ve replaced good leadership with threats and fines.

Who needs good leadership when the people don’t have a choice, when our
political parties don’t need to motivate support from the people? All they need
to do is be slightly less repulsive than the other guys and compulsory voting does
the rest.

And while our system becomes less free, the global trend is away from
compulsory voting. Almost as many nations have abolished it in recent decades,
as there are where it remains, and half of the ten regimes where it does
remain are only decades out of military dictatorship.

In Chile, voter turnouts were in decline because young people were avoiding
registering to vote in order to avoid fines for not voting. So Chile’s solution
was to make voter registration automatic and voting voluntary. We should do the
same.

We should fall into line with places like Canada, Sweden, Denmark,
France, Germany, Japan, New Zealand and the multitude of other countries where
voting is democratic. In these nations people often vote in great numbers
because they are engaged and informed. This type of voluntary voter
participation is hard to imagine in Australia where so many people file into
the polling booth like donkeys to avoid a fine, without a clue who to vote for
or why. We’ve abolished a key driver to voter participation.

The reason other countries have high voter participation, again, is
because under voluntary voting leaders must inspire people to vote. They must
educate, inform, motivate and empower the electorate using peaceful means. This flow of ideas, or
this act of leadership, is absolutely crucial to democracy.

As our political discourse reaches new lows, consider what an improvement it
would be if our leaders had to motivate their base. At least then we'd know
what they really stand for.

You have to wonder why our leaders are scared of democracy.

Jason Kent

Free Our Right To Vote

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