Essay: Why Compulsory Voting is Wrong

Many arguments exist to prove or disprove the importance of compulsory voting. The arguments for compulsory voting state that there cannot be a fair election if groups of people fail to cast their ballots. For this reason, arguments in favor demand the enforcement of compulsory voting to ensure full participation for fair elections. The arguments against claim that forcing individuals to cast ballots against their will can lead to empty votes, or donkey votes. Both sides strive for acceptance, each claiming to outweigh the other, but before casting judgment on either side of the argument, it is important to understand the most prominent pros and cons of each to decide why compulsory voting would do more harm than good.

The main benefit of compulsory voting is a larger voter turnout. When voting is mandated by a government and every legal individual turns in a vote, this ensures that the government has a solid number to work with. By having those figures available, the government will know for sure exactly how many votes each party has acquired for the election, leaving no room for error in the event of undecided voters.

Many individuals say that this leads to a more fair election process because everyone has submitted an opinion for consideration. These same individuals claim that voters who do not participate muddle the voting pool because the number of individuals who did not participate could have swayed the outcome of the election in another direction. However, the arguments against compulsory voting cite this as the same reason that voting should be voluntary.

One of the most popular theories in the argument against compulsory voting is the lifeboat theory. The theory states that 11 people are on a lifeboat with no skipper, navigator, map, or compass, and their provisions will only last long enough for one attempt at a journey to dry land. Every person in the boat develops a theory regarding the direction to land and safety, but no one is 100% sure if any of the theories will work.

The occupants of the lifeboat decide that because the situation is so dire, everyone should have the right to vote on a theory. However, only one person casts a vote because that person is the only one certain of one specific theory. The rest of the occupants are undecided, knowing that just because they can cast a vote does not mean that they should if they are not 100% certain of their respective choices.

If the other occupants of the lifeboat were forced to cast votes for their preferred theories, they would have given empty votes. If none of them were sure, they could not say with certainty who had their votes. Because they could not choose, they decided to leave the decision up to one voter who was sure of one theory. Had the other occupants of the lifeboat given empty, compulsory votes, they could have made a decision under pressure that led to their demise. For this reason, many individuals choose not to vote because they are uncertain of their choices or harbor equal faith for all parties on the ballot.

If individuals cannot choose between parties or do not believe in any of them, their votes carry no resonance. Votes should be cast by individuals who strongly believe in the people they vote for, not by individuals who vote because they have no other choice.

Many individuals claim that voting is a civic duty shared by all who live under one government, but this is not the case. Voting is a personal choice made by individuals who strongly believe in the parties they vote for. Compulsory voting is wrong and should not be forced on anyone. Voting is a right, not a duty, and the only votes that carry any weight are the votes cast by confident voters who stand behind their decisions.

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