Friday, January 16, 2009

Of course compulsory voting isn't on their radar screen

This article in The Gazette illustrates that Conservative campaign tactics, like the rotting muck at the bottom of a swamp, keep bubbling gaseously to the surface:

Despite plunging voter turnout rates in Canadian elections, Ottawa has no plans to bring in a mandatory voting law similar to Australia's, the federal minister for democratic reform says."No, we are not looking at that, at this time," Steven Fletcher, the minister of state for democratic reform, said in a recent interview. "Just forcing people to vote for the sake of voting, I don't see that necessarily meets the objective of what we want," he added. "We want people to vote to express their views. If someone doesn't have any views to express, that isn't necessarily helpful."
(My emphasis in bold)

Could it be that the Conservatives realize that a low voter turn-out is their best chance to avoid defeat in elections and campaigned accordingly?

As I laid out in my post election series on the Conservatives voter suppression strategy "What would Rove do?", I think mandatory voting is something the Liberals should be agitating for. This is not the right stance:

But the Liberals have no official position on mandatory voting.

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4 comments:

Chrystal Ocean said...

I disagree with you, although I respect and understand your reasoning. Mandatory voting is anti-democratic. Citizens in this country have a right to vote; that doesn't make it an obligation. In fact, to change this right into an obligation would require a change to the Charter of Rights and Freedoms. (See Part I, section 3.)

Mark Greenan said...

Also, I have read and spoke with many academics studying voting and the clear consensus is that increasing turnout/forcing people to vote would not be likely to affect the results.

It appears non-voters have similar political preferences to the general population.

Ken S from Ramara Tsp., Ontario said...

Make not voting a $50 fine and see the motivation. You can still refuse to vote and avoid the fine by showing up, having your name crossed off the polling list and than refusing your ballot. I've been to Australia. They are full of voting laggards to, but based with a decision not to vote and being fined the equivalent of the cost of a case of beer, Aussies show up and vote. Canada needs mandatory voting!!!!

Constant Vigilance said...

Thanks for the comments. I was away from a computer this weekend so I did not see them until now. That is my excuse for tardy replies.

CO - Thanks for pointing out the impracticalities about making mandatory voting happen. I wasn't aware of this. I suppose one could take the stand that having a right does create a certain obligation.

MG - I disagree. There is evidence that the Conservative campaign was predicated on lowering the turnout. The non-voters were overwhelmingly Liberal and that is what the election hinged upon.

KS - I suppose you could give voters a receipt for a $50 refundable tax credit. That might work. As with any changes to elections it would have to be very diligently studied to identify any ptifalls.