To explain my position more clearly: the first thing I should (re)emphasize in response to several previous commenters here is that – as Alex says in his blog – the “compulsory voting” label is incorrect.
Alex clearly doesn’t support genuine compulsory voting – and nor do I – but rather we both support an extension of the current compulsory enrolment system, i.e. a sort of “compulsory enrolment plus”. This would effectively extend the current compulsory enrolment system to require all voters to both enrol and actually appear at a polling place – and actively choose EITHER to vote OR not to vote OR to vote for none of the above candidates/parties, i.e. the voting slip would look something like this:
TICK ONE OF THE OPTIONS BELOW:
* I DO NOT WISH TO VOTE
* VOTE FOR MUSSOLINI, B.
* VOTE FOR HUN, A.T.
* VOTE FOR GRACEWOOD, J.
* VOTE FOR NONE OF THE ABOVE CANDIDATES
Just to hammer the point home, the most important thing to note here is that people are not required to vote, i.e. you can select the “I do not wish to vote option”.
To expand further upon what I said before, I think the strongest argument in favour of this “compulsory enrolment plus” system is that it would help protect voters from the actions of a corrupt government.
If a government (any government) believes that they can win elections by deterring voting – either by making it difficult to vote or by deliberately framing all politics as beneath contempt – then they may well be tempted to do so. By setting a legal requirement for all eligible voters to appear in person at a polling place, and actively choose whether or not to vote, then the incentive for a government to act corruptly (in this regard) is removed.
Moreover, a properly designed “compulsory enrolment plus” system would also gives voters an extra freedom beyond what they currently have – the freedom to officially decline to vote OR to choose the “none of the above candidates/parties” option. This relates to the point Craig made:
I don’t think a 100% turnout with 23% of the ballots spoiled or otherwise invalid (or 23% of the electorate being criminalized) is any more laudable than what happened on Saturday.
… We already have [the “I don’t want to vote” option and “none of the above” option], and 23% of registered voters exercised it on Saturday by not voting.
But there is a huge difference between “I don’t want to vote” and “none of the above” – options which voters are completely denied at the moment.
To make this difference clear: I know Christians who do not believe in democracy; they believe in letting God choose a suitable monarch (although, incidentally, they say that if they did vote, they would vote for John Key) – these people would obviously choose the “I don’t want to vote” option. Similarly people who genuinely don’t care which parties form the government (or find themselves unable to decide) would also choose this option.
But this is an entirely different situation from someone who fervently believes in democracy, but also believes that none of the candidates and/or parties should be in government. They would like to vote, but have no-one to vote for – hence they would choose the “none of the above candidates/parties”.
I would argue that it is important for the health of a democracy to know the support for these two options. Are those people currently not voting just disbelievers in democracy (or don’t care which party forms the government) – or do they think that none of the parties should be in government?
Clearly a government which talks about a mandate from voters would be on shaky ground if the “none of the above” option got more votes than they did. (There is also the point about whether they should form a government in this situation – but that is another debate). And you can’t tell which is which without everyone ticking one of the boxes.
And I’d also like someone to rebut the point Robyn made near the top of the thread. What’s the stick here that won’t disproportionately affect the poor and the young…
We currently have a compulsory enrolment system with a fine of $100 if eligible voters do not enrol (and $200 for a second offence). I see no reason that a “compulsory enrolment plus” system would cause any more problems in this regard than what we have now.
Some interesting points, Craig. Alas now in middle if fencing (not the interesting sort), but will reply this evening - if someone doesn't beat me to it...
For someone who presumably wants their opinions to be taken as an adult’s it seems to be a very counter-productive shtick.
I rather see Ian's point -- it does detract from the logic (or not) of the argument, as far as I'm concerned...
I’m keen on compulsory voting exactly because it negates one strategy of the powerful – discouraging voting. It also makes it harder for the powerful to use US-style techniques of making it hard or impossible to vote. Only providing facilities for half the electorate to vote is much harder to justify if everyone is required to do so.
For years I have been strongly against the concept of compulsory voting, but this is the sole argument that really made me reconsider my position.
I’m now convinced that we need to (properly) implement “compulsory voting” (EDIT: by which I actually mean “compulsory attendance at a polling place" – see below) to counteract the vote-discouraging strategies that are already being used in NZ.
“Properly” meaning with the caveat that Steven Crawford (and others) have mentioned: an I don’t want to vote option and a none of the above option.
I note that in some jurisdictions a majority of none of the above votes triggers another election (until an actual candidate beats the none of the above option).
I don’t think it’s viable for Cunliffe to stay on after this.
I wonder if part of the reason that voters have not seen Labour as fit to govern is the number of leaders they've gone through in the past electoral term (and the internal divisions within Labour that are highlighted during each campaign for leadership).
Certainly this point been put to me by quite a few people -- though, of course, I'm not claiming it as a scientific sample of opinion..
Excellent essay, Eric!
I've often been struck by a similar thought to that which you express so eloquently here -- that somehow the recovery has managed to find the 'un-sweet' spot between a highly-directed government response (that ploughed ahead with just getting things done) and a totally un-coordinated laissez-faire rebuild. We've somehow managed to enact the worst attributes of both approaches.
Your book of essays sounds like a fantastic idea -- I shall look forward to reading it with interest. Best of luck with the launch!
[BTW: will it be launched anywhere other than Auckland and Wellington? (Like Christchurch, he hints hopefully).]
Yes we we be needing a boat as phase 2, after our deconstruction of the reinforced cement walls. I was just pondering on the feasibility of converting a tattoo machine to be used as a small jack hammer. I might not make much noise, and it could be set up on a jig to quietly chip away by it self.
I figure the Farklands, might be a good place to go for refuge status.
Your plan for escaping the re-education camp is genius, Steven! But I'm not so sure about the Falklands as a escape destination -- I was envisaging somewhere a little warmer. Maybe Samoa as per Robert Louis Stevenson? In anticipation of emulating Stevenson I have already begun to learn his favourite instrument, the flageolet (which is a member of the fipple flute family, in case you were wondering).
Thanks SO much for sharing this petition David – when I read that Harold signed it I confess I teared up a little.
Harold was very pleased to help a worthy cause -- and so am I!
We really appreciate the hard work you're doing, Marianne. After so many of the most repugnant people in Dirty Politics turned out to be lawyers, it's wonderful to see a lawyer who's decided to use her powers for good instead of evil. Thank you!
Just to prove that you can be politically active while having a blood transfusion and hooked up to an oxygen machine, some further details on my grandfather (via my cousin):
[Harold saw] the dirty politics protest petition and he thought it was a great idea. He wanted to sign it, so I typed in all his details and he pushed the "sign now" button...
On another note my thoughts are often with Harold. I hope someone’s taking food parcels!
I am reliably informed that a shipment of stout is being delivered to his hospital room today (stout being, I believe, one of the most nutritious types of food)!
But you are very telepathic in your suspicion that Harold is beginning to tire of hospital provisions -- happened on day 2 of his stay...