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Speaker: Compulsory voting and election turnout

141 Responses

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  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to DaiKiwi,

    Australia has about the same percentage of unenrolled as NZ. Turnout is for Federal elections is about 93%. Spoiled or invalid votes is about 6% (versus 0.89% in NZ 2011), and has been rising steadily since the 1980s.

    On that basis, about 400,000 more valid votes would have been cast in the NZ 2011 election, bringing it up to about 85%.

    Given that a "no vote" or "no confidence" voter would not bother to vote under our current system, the 0.89% represents mostly errors. So there might be case for saying that of the 6% of votes cast (i.e. turnout) are invalid votes in Australia, 1% could be real errors and 5% is the no vote/no confidence bloc.

    85% of what? Enrolment? Can you explain how you get this number?
    Are you assuming that the only choices on the ballot are candidates and that there is no "no vote" or "no confidence" option?

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel,

    Foul play...
    I seriously hope that 'Ballboys' Israel Dagg, Jonah Lomu and rower, Eric Wood all get the full fine for tweeting political support for National on Election Day...

    and Surely National spent more than $50,000 on their campaign...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • Pharmachick,

    "Compulsory" and "Freedom" do not belong in the same sentence.

    Your arguments tend to fail in principle.

    An open democracy is just that, and if people are not voting for whatever reason (disaffection, anger, protest, apathy etc) then they are exercising a democratic right to remove themselves from the process.

    If you want them to vote, then work harder to engage them and make them care, it's lazy in the extreme to try and compel them [largely for your own ends].

    North Korea also has compulsory voting and their "Dear Leader" tends to win by impossible landslides.

    Since Apr 2009 • 35 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    Surely National spent more than $50,000 on their campaign...

    As they are allowed to...

    Political parties are capped at a maximum of $1.091 million, plus $25,700 per electorate contested.

    NZ Parliament website
    But thay may have had to spend more if they weren't given massive discounts on Newspaper ad rates (can't prove it but hey, who cares?)

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Barnes, in reply to stephen clover,

    There’s another word for when the Opposition is held accountable

    What is that word?

    Propaganda.
    Labour did it... It was like that when we got here... they will ruin the country with their wacky ways...
    And on.... and on.....

    Peria • Since Dec 2006 • 5521 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Pharmachick,

    If you want them to vote, then work harder to engage them and make them care, it’s lazy in the extreme to try and compel them [largely for your own ends].

    North Korea also has compulsory voting and their “Dear Leader” tends to win by impossible landslides.

    Equating compulsion to North Korea is silly and smacks of scaremongering.

    By the same token, your logic should also mean taxation should not be compulsory.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Dismal Soyanz, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Mind you, if the "Dear Leader" won anymore elections it would be remarkable if only for the fact that he has been dead for nearly 3 years.

    Wellington • Since Nov 2010 • 310 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to Steve Barnes,

    As they are allowed to…

    darn, I hate it when they do that!
    (shoulda checked, ta)

    :- )

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Pharmachick,

    An open democracy is just that, and if people are not voting for whatever reason (disaffection, anger, protest, apathy etc) then they are exercising a democratic right to remove themselves from the process.

    You're conflating that we have the right not to register any formal vote in our democracy, with that somehow being synonymous with "democratic freedom". There is no clear or necessary connection, otherwise you are committed to saying that Australia is not democratic.

    In fact, this point is made so often, that I wonder if people might consider the extent to which they have become brainwashed by the system under which they have lived their lives, so that they can't even conceive that the other way is not some massive and fundamental violation of all the principles of democracy. It's a lot like how people struggle to even conceive of how taxing capital gains could be fair, with theoretical arguments everywhere, completely ignoring that the system is commonplace around the developed world.

    It's confusing two quite different ideals, "democratic freedom" and "libertarianism". Democratic freedom is just the right to vote how you choose. And as said so far by every person in favour of compulsory voting on this thread, the choice can include a choice to not vote, and possibly other signals besides. "Libertarianism" is a political theory that we should not interfere with freedom unless there is a very strong case for it. The two are NOT identical. You could certainly believe in democracy without being a libertarian.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to stephen clover,

    What is that word?

    Well clearly he meant "not democracy", manifested however that is chosen. He was over-egging it, and I'm quoting it now because it's a beautiful example of how hypocritical a Machiavellian operator like him can be, as a prime mover of scare campaigns against our current opposition.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • DaiKiwi, in reply to Dismal Soyanz,

    Agreed, the AUS/NZ difference in informal votes is probably mostly 'protest' votes. According to Australian Electoral Commission report more than half the informal votes in 2010 were completely blank.

    Would a 'none of the above' make a difference? It might lower the the number of votes for *anyone* even more. How many people pick the 'least worst' option? Don't know, but it is one of the arguments used for voting at all - i.e. even if there's no-one you particularly want to vote *for*, there are some you object to less than others.

    85% was my estimate of the percentage of valid votes cast using the Aust example. However, I miscalculated. Should be 86.4%. Compared against the historic NZ turnout figures I linked to, which might have a 1-2% informal component, thats not too bad. Not brilliant though, and not evidence of compulsory voting being a cure-all.

    Since Sep 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to DaiKiwi,

    Not brilliant though, and not evidence of compulsory voting being a cure-all.

    It's not meant to be a cure-all, it's meant to address a problem in a practical way, rather than calling for a whole lot of things that might indirectly address falling participation in far less bipartisan and far more expensive ways. We can't know what the Australian turn out might be like if it wasn't compulsory - maybe it would be way worse than NZ's - and our historical figures were also the envy of the world. I'd be pretty stoked if we got 86%, along with 6-7% spoiled as a different figure to the further 7-8% who don't enroll.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to DaiKiwi,

    ‘protest’ votes...

    I wonder if there could be a Negative Vote option?
    Whereby if the voter doesn't want to vote for anyone on offer, they can still exert their will with a vote that subtracts a vote from a Party they specifically would not like to see in power...
    Keeps it tactical,
    as is the do
    in the new milieu...

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 7939 posts Report Reply

  • DaiKiwi, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    I wonder if there could be a Negative Vote option?

    Two party votes - one for and one against?
    Or would that mean National/Labour cancel each other out except for their electorate seats and Green/NZF/Maori/Conservatives/etc split the 60 party seats between themselves? That'd make for some ... interesting ... post-election negotiations.

    Since Sep 2014 • 3 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to bmk,

    People hate jury duty – compelling people to vote will only make them feel about it like they do about jury duty.

    This is not a good comparison. Ben Wilson addressed this on page 2.

    http://publicaddress.net/system/cafe/speaker-compulsory-voting-and-election-turnout/?p=327821#post327821

    I don’t have much further to add to what’s been covered by Alex MacKenzie’s blogpost and things covered by Haywood, Wilson and Moz and others since. I guess we should all stop referring to it as compulsory voting, since it is not that. ‘Compulsory participation’ maybe?

    Digressing a bit: I also think that the voting age should be lowered to 16, and that all (or most) prisoners should be able to vote.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Digressing a bit: I also think that the voting age should be lowered to 16, and that all (or most) prisoners should be able to vote.

    Well that, except for the (or most) bit, I certainly agree with.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to BenWilson,

    You could certainly believe in democracy without being a libertarian.

    I question the extent to which someone can be a libertarian and believe in democracy, however. Libertarianism requires strong limits on state power, much stronger than have ever been accepted by any modern state. The closest would possibly be India or Sudan before their respective partitions, but even then both states claimed the right to levy taxes and enforce laws regardless of the consent of those they were enforcing them on, and without any prior agreement that they might do so.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Steve Parks,

    Digressing a bit: I also think that the voting age should be lowered to 16, and that all (or most) prisoners should be able to vote.

    Why 16, and why only prisoners rather than all disqualified persons?

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Richard Aston,

    Just wondering if compulsory voting would be just part of the picture.
    What about online voting? It seems just crazy we don't have this and according to this group "A Massey University survey shows that young people are more likely to vote if it is made more convenient"
    Makes sense.
    And what about better interdependent advice on who to vote for ? The media just seems a mess of information and opinions . Where do you go for really independent advice on which party would serve your idea of a better world?
    It must be really challenging for new voters but if we made it easier to make informed choices maybe they would vote more often.

    Apologies if this has already been said up thread , didn't have time to read the whole thread.

    Northland • Since Nov 2006 • 510 posts Report Reply

  • Moz, in reply to Richard Aston,

    What about online voting?

    That's been discussed, and generally the more people understand it the less they like it. By which I mean that scientists who study it don't believe it can be made to work, computer secutiy people regard it as outright impossible (some of them even in theory!) and every attempt has either been carefully shielded from scrutiny or has been shown to have major flaws... or both. Using it means choosing which parts of the current system to give up - it can be cheaper, or more accurate, or more convenient to get to, or easier to use, but probably at most one of those things (and likely all of them will suffer for the first few runs... you know, those tests of the new system where we get a real government as a result).

    The problem is that our distributed, paper-based system is the result of much experimentation and experience over a long period. Online voting is new and shiny, and even if we can work the bugs out of it much faster than we did with paper ballots, that gives us 3-20 elections where we are testing an experimental voting machine.

    Sydney, West Island • Since Nov 2006 • 1229 posts Report Reply

  • Kyle Matthews,

    Exactly! And since I’ve been a financial member of a political party for almost twenty-five years, I’ll put my hand up and say Team Me is part of the problem. The data don’t lie, and it’s a simple matter of fact that nearly a quarter of registered voters didn’t vote on Saturday. (And don’t even get me started on the even worse turn out for local body elections – because I’ve never seen anyone complain their rates are too low.) Don’t want to give anyone the impression I think that not a problem, but I’m not convinced compulsory voting would address the deeper issues here.

    It seems to me we need to know how many of those ~25% didn't vote just because they didn't. They're not opposed to voting, and if the paper was in front of them they might have had a reasonable opinion and voted in some way, but they just didn't.

    If there's a significant percentage of people that didn't vote but would if it was in front of them, then this idea has potential merit. I struggle to imagine how a quarter of the population have actual philosophical objections to voting. But then I struggle to imagine many things that turn out to be true...

    Since Nov 2006 • 6243 posts Report Reply

  • BenWilson, in reply to Kyle Matthews,

    I struggle to imagine how a quarter of the population have actual philosophical objections to voting. But then I struggle to imagine many things that turn out to be true…

    I don't struggle to imagine it. It could be true, or it could be false, and nobody knows. I'd like to know the truth, and it is knowable through compulsory participation. When it's voluntary it's about as accurate as the census would be if people could opt out.

    The problem is that our distributed, paper-based system is the result of much experimentation and experience over a long period

    Yes, and also I think that if new technology is to become part of our democratic process, it should be in order to add functionality, rather than just for efficiency purposes. That's one of my greatest personal annoyances with my own profession, that it's so often sold on efficiency at replicating something that humans do, rather than on doing what it's actually good at, which is usually something quite different. It's always about chopping humans out of the loop, rather than adding something real and useful in. Technology has so much more to offer our political process than the triannual popularity contest we invest so much of our belief in.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 10650 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Chris Waugh,

    “Well that, except for the (or most) bit, I certainly agree with.”

    I’m ambivalent about the most serious of criminal offenders being able to vote.

    I absolutely think most people in prison should be able to vote because they’re part of our society and will be affected by the policies (and will have been affected by the policies) of the people we as a society elect to govern. Essentially, it’s their society too.

    However, I’m not completely against the idea that a person could commit violations against other members of our society that are so bad that we not only remove them from the general public for most/all of their remaining life but we also say it would be perverse for that person to be able to vote while their victims cannot.

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

  • Chris Waugh, in reply to Steve Parks,

    a person could commit violations against other members of our society that are so bad that we not only remove them from the general public for most/all of their remaining life but we also say it would be perverse for that person to be able to vote while their victims cannot.

    Like what? Where do we draw the line? As in - how severe does a crime have to be before the person convicted is denied the right to vote? And how severe does a punishment have to be before it is considered excessive? Surely preventive detention is about the most you could do and still claim some measure of civilisation?

    And then there's the American experience of denying convicted criminals the right to vote, and all the consequences that has entailed. I don't think that's an example to be emulated.

    Wellington • Since Jan 2007 • 2401 posts Report Reply

  • Steve Parks, in reply to Moz,

    "Why 16, and why only prisoners rather than all disqualified persons?”

    The idea of lowering the voting age to 16 was in the news recentishly, and then there’s the Scotland referendum on independence, in which 16-year-olds could vote.

    I think we should lower the voting age – as I said above, this is their society too. And many 16 and 17 year olds are as capable of making informed decisions as many people older than that, and 16 seems like a reasonable goal.

    However, if you think that the voting age should be lowered, you need to pick an age that has a hope of getting wide acceptance. So 16 seems pragmatic – let’s try for 16 for now.

    As to the second part of your question: again, prisoner voting rights (or lack of) have been in the news recently; I’m lazy.

    So who are the people currently not allowed to vote that you think should be able to?

    Wellington • Since May 2007 • 1164 posts Report Reply

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