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Thread: Aussies?

  1. #1

    Default Aussies?

    Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory.

    I was pressured to judge debate the past two weekends and was assigned Lincoln-Douglas rounds. The above topic was bandied about by our wonderful youth. I wikied compulsory voting and see that 10 countries currently have some use of it. Yet this last two weekends the only evidence offered referred to the policy in Australia. Any Aussies read here, or anybody else, care to share their opinion on the topic?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    I do not agree with compulsory voting.

    That said, I think that anyone who chooses not to exercise their franchise is making a poor choice.

    Finally, I would suggest that our current benchmark for awarding the franchise -- continued breathing past a certain age -- is far from the best way to qualify voters for the franchise.
    "The only way that has ever been discovered to have a lot of people cooperate together voluntarily is through the free market. And that's why it's so essential to preserving individual freedom.” -- Milton Friedman

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  3. #3
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Finally, I would suggest that our current benchmark for awarding the franchise -- continued breathing past a certain age -- is far from the best way to qualify voters for the franchise.
    at the middle part.

    I think if you want truly qualified people you end up in a technocracy or something similar. Whatever you want to implement, you will have a lot of debate though. And ending this debate by taking away the voices of some participants is sort of...authoritarian.


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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    I do not agree with compulsory voting.

    That said, I think that anyone who chooses not to exercise their franchise is making a poor choice.
    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    I know I am, other people tell me. I'm not saying I'm special in a good way though.
    Sometimes however, I cannot fathom how people can not agree with my common sense solutions.

    I think that makes me the only true centrist.
    Hey now, if someone doesn't vote because they are satisfied with any electoral (and so, legislative) outcome, then surely they are the true centrist.
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Hey now, if someone doesn't vote because they are satisfied with any electoral (and so, legislative) outcome, then surely they are the true centrist.
    But a true centrist wants centrist solutions, which are not provided by the parties on either side. As such a centrist can per definition not be happy if a party on either side wins.


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  6. #6

    Default Re: Aussies?

    a centrist can per definition not be happy if a party on either side wins.
    Which means the centrist's perspective is so unusual as to be unrepresented by anyone, making the centrist an extremist, a notion confirmed by the centrist's unwillingness to compromise with anyone on the spectrum.

    And so a centrist can per definition not be a centrist!

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    Old Town Road Senior Member Strike For The South's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    I'm all for voting, as long as you're drunk
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    Beauty hunter Senior Member Raz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    We still have loads of people that just don't rock up to vote. They're fined for it, but I hear nothing really happens if you just ignore the fine as well.

    And then we have even more people that just donkey vote, either they just run the pencil down the list sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.), or they submit a blank vote.
    Sometimes they just crudely sketch male genitals all over their ballot paper (especially over the candidates that they truly despise, maybe replete with a labeled stickfigure-based fellatio scene).

    I think it works for the most part though: I submit a proper vote, but I know I would abstain from it if I wasn't threatened with a fine. I think I'd only vote if I was really passionate about a particular party.
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  9. #9
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Montmorency View Post
    Which means the centrist's perspective is so unusual as to be unrepresented by anyone, making the centrist an extremist, a notion confirmed by the centrist's unwillingness to compromise with anyone on the spectrum.

    And so a centrist can per definition not be a centrist!

    There's a difference between not caring and going for a compromise or searching for the party that comes closest in the most important aspects.

    Plus, in any sensible system, the centrist can start his own party together with other centrists. And in even more sensible systems their party may hav a chance of getting some votes, even seats in parliament.


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    Mr Self Important Senior Member Beskar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    I think there should be a choice whether you want to vote, and if you choose to do it, you are expected/compulsed to vote, if you fail to do so, you lose your voting rights (and have to go through a process of reapplying).

    This isn't wouldn't be far different from normal in the UK, as you have to register to vote anyway.
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Strike For The South View Post
    I'm all for voting, as long as you're drunk
    Aaaaah, Texas. Fond memories.
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    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    I do not agree with compulsory voting.

    That said, I think that anyone who chooses not to exercise their franchise is making a poor choice.

    Finally, I would suggest that our current benchmark for awarding the franchise -- continued breathing past a certain age -- is far from the best way to qualify voters for the franchise.
    If you feel there are uninformed voters out there, it's your own damn duty to inform them.

    Don't start taking away peoples rights just because you're lazy.
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  13. #13
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Australian here.

    There are two major sides to this. One is that it forces people who have no interest in politics or running of the nation to choose who should run the country. It does however ensure that the 'will' of the nation is actually enforced, as we get around 85% (I think?) voter turnout. I don't think its a bad thing necessarily, I'd say more people pay attention to politics with compulsory voting then otherwise even with the first issue.

    So I think its fine.

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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Back off, Norseman. You are either taking me way out of context or making assumptions about me that are both incorrect and offensive.

    1. I have argued repeatedly on this forum that too many voters ARE uninformed, or at least under-informed. I have said that publicly and have said that in my classes, encouraging any and all to become informed and to vote their conscience.

    2. In this thread, I said nada about disenfranchising ANYBODY. I commented that age, in and of itself, is a poor benchmark for awarding the franchise. Why should we deny the vote to an informed, educated twelve-year-old? They might be a better voter -- more thoughtful, more conscientious -- than many a supposed adult.

    3. You yourself have argued that people have NO RIGHTS save those granted them by their government. Absent belief in a higher power, your argument even makes sense. With that as a given, how can voting be an person's right anyway? Would it not derive from the government choosing to share out decision power at some remove for the purpose of social stability and popular support?

    4. I am one of those who believe in a higher power and in "inalienable rights," but the franchise has never been so much a right as a better means of governance that functions as an OBLIGATION of the self governing -- a DUTY, not a right. Which is fine be me, since I concur that the people are the source of power and ultimately hold the power to...

    Quote Originally Posted by Declaration of Independence
    institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.
    .

    If that means letting twelve year olds vote or setting up reasonable requirements to enact the franchise, then fair enough.
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Raz View Post
    We still have loads of people that just don't rock up to vote. They're fined for it, but I hear nothing really happens if you just ignore the fine as well.

    And then we have even more people that just donkey vote, either they just run the pencil down the list sequentially (1, 2, 3, etc.), or they submit a blank vote.
    Sometimes they just crudely sketch male genitals all over their ballot paper (especially over the candidates that they truly despise, maybe replete with a labeled stickfigure-based fellatio scene).

    I think it works for the most part though: I submit a proper vote, but I know I would abstain from it if I wasn't threatened with a fine. I think I'd only vote if I was really passionate about a particular party.
    Spoiling a ballot is perfectly legitimate - people do it here.

    If you really hate voting - you should spoil you ballots and spoiled ballots should be listed alongside votes - that way you get a measure of how hated the politicians are.
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Spoiling a ballot is perfectly legitimate - people do it here.

    If you really hate voting - you should spoil you ballots and spoiled ballots should be listed alongside votes - that way you get a measure of how hated the politicians are.
    Happens here as well, though the spoilage is usually a write-in vote for Bugs Bunny or Mickey Mouse.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Aussies?

    I guess you could argue that the compulsory ballot motivates people to carry out their duty.
    Or, are you simply propping up a system that fails to represent its target population; if the electorate are not sufficiently motivated by the personalities and issues is it legitimate to enforce their interest through coercion?
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    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    If 30% of the population do not feel represented for similar reasons, maybe they should start their own party, after all it should get around 30% of the votes.
    Of course this does not work in the USA with FPTP since it would get hardly any votes there because the election system is horrible and encourages the two-party system. It seems Australia even switched away from FPTP, still ended up with a de-facto two-party system but that is okay as long as small parties get more representation than none. Plus, if the people vote for only two parties out of habit and not because the system promotes it, they get what they deserve even if it's bad (I'm not saying that it is).

    Compulsory voting may increase the power of the two largest parties since people who only vote to avoid the fee will most likely vote for either of them. Be it because they're the most prominent and their programs well-known or because keeping the status quo may appeal to apathetic voters. You could say it props up an unrepresentative system, but only if and because largew parts of the population do not care. And if they do not really care then either they are okay with the existing structures or it's their own fault that they end up with a bad government and have no reason to complain.


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    Default Re: Aussies?

    If 30% of the population do not feel represented for similar reasons, maybe they should start their own party, after all it should get around 30% of the votes.
    Unrepresented hive-mind? Make that 30.000001% - I, for one, welcome our centrist overlords...
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  20. #20
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Husar View Post
    If 30% of the population do not feel represented for similar reasons, maybe they should start their own party, after all it should get around 30% of the votes.
    Of course this does not work in the USA with FPTP since it would get hardly any votes there because the election system is horrible and encourages the two-party system. It seems Australia even switched away from FPTP, still ended up with a de-facto two-party system but that is okay as long as small parties get more representation than none. Plus, if the people vote for only two parties out of habit and not because the system promotes it, they get what they deserve even if it's bad (I'm not saying that it is).

    Compulsory voting may increase the power of the two largest parties since people who only vote to avoid the fee will most likely vote for either of them. Be it because they're the most prominent and their programs well-known or because keeping the status quo may appeal to apathetic voters. You could say it props up an unrepresentative system, but only if and because largew parts of the population do not care. And if they do not really care then either they are okay with the existing structures or it's their own fault that they end up with a bad government and have no reason to complain.
    It's a common complaint that FPTP is an unfair system because it "props up" large parties, but the reality is that "Proportional Representation" is just as bad in its own way. It is possible, through hard work, for an individual to stand and be elected as an independent in the UK - it is considerably harder in a PR system when you don't have a party, and even if you do get elected under one of the deferred preference systems, your constituancy will ALSO elect someone from the largest party.

    The problem isn't the voting system - it's the party system - that's worst in the US where Congressmen actually have "D" or "R" before their names, but it's a problem everywhere.

    My suggestion?

    Make formal parliamentary parties illegal - make campaign contributions and election funding illegal. If you can't get someone to give you office space for 4 weeks and a phone line for free, so you can campaign, you don't deserve to be elected.
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    Upstanding Member rvg's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    My suggestion?

    Make formal parliamentary parties illegal - make campaign contributions and election funding illegal. If you can't get someone to give you office space for 4 weeks and a phone line for free, so you can campaign, you don't deserve to be elected.
    Might as well just ban elections outright and implement a lottery for the purposes of filling up the legislative seats.
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  22. #22

    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    It's a common complaint that FPTP is an unfair system because it "props up" large parties, but the reality is that "Proportional Representation" is just as bad in its own way. It is possible, through hard work, for an individual to stand and be elected as an independent in the UK - it is considerably harder in a PR system when you don't have a party, and even if you do get elected under one of the deferred preference systems, your constituancy will ALSO elect someone from the largest party.
    No. Here's why: in order to get a seat in parliament in a FPTP system you need to gain a seat in a specific district. Winner takes all, which means you must have more votes than your nearest competitor in that single district. However in a PR system with a simple minimum threshold you only need to gain the threshold vote over the entire electorate. Fringe parties stand an actual chance because you only need to win that threshold in order to start building a proper political movement that will last (e.g. a party), but more importantly large blocks of electoral dissent (which are bound to crop up in any sizeable population) can be given proper representation in the seat counts. Which means that if you represent an electoral block of, say, 20% you can actually get a seat in parliament (approx 20% of them, in fact) as opposed to a FPTP system in which you'll get approximately 0 because you are the perennial runner up and hence 20% of the vote is simply discarded as irrelevant. Hence why in USA political dissent in big states such as California or Texas don't really matter in presidential races; even though we're talking a couple of smaller states worth of votes that is routinely binned as irrelevant.

    FPTP is a system which is barely adequate for deciding on the next company staff outing, let alone something that has to scale to an actual nation-wide mandate simply because it is built to discard dissenting votes.
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  23. #23
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    FPTP has its real strength in continuity, as it tends to create 2 or 3 parties that share power, slowly absorbing ideas and change based on factions within those parties rather than trying to represent 1400 opinions in one legislative assembly. FPTP is, however, almost remorseless in screening out smaller/emergent political efforts. This keeps the whackoid fringers out, but makes change efforts much more difficult. The USA exemplifies both of these characteristics.

    PR has its strength in inclusivity, with all voices actively represented in the discussion within the legislative body. This is also its weakness, however, in that too many disparate voices may have great difficulty in establishing a governing coalition of some form as the legislative body may be too balkanized, with the inability of a party to develop a workable coalition granting too much de fact voice to some of the more extreme or minority "parties" in the legislative body. An example of this would be the Knesset.

    Neither approach is without value, but neither is without flaws.

    Perhaps a bicameral legislative body with one body elected using each approach?
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  24. #24
    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    Back off, Norseman.
    Phftphftphftphftphft.

    Since you are not part of the Nordic Master Race, I naturally assume the worst of you.

    Allow me to clear up something though:

    I don't believe that I have rights because the government has given me those rights simply by virtue of being the government. I believe those rights come from human nature itself, represented in the common good of society as a whole. A fuzzy idea, I know, but no more so than interpreting the will of a divine being.

    And the reason I oppose any and all measures to rock universal suffrage, isn't because I care about the voting the rights of Joe Dumbass. Since when did I care about individuals, anyway? No, what concerns me is the effect such a change will have on the society I live in.

    Everyone being able to vote has an effect on the relations between the educated and the uneducated. Educating the uneducated is in the self-interest of the educated in this system, as when push comes to shove the village idiot will count the same as they do. Introduce voting restrictions(by whatever measure), and suddenly the educated no longer has any stake in spreading education to those without. On the contrary, it now becomes in their interest to limit education and social understanding. If I am an educated man with voting rights in such a situation, having more people able to vote decreases my influence on society.

    This naturally rests on the assumption that educating the masses is inherently good, something I believe strongly in.



    But course, since the schmucks don't vote anyway, all of this is completely irrelevant. Unless you're proposing serious limitations to voting rights, it would change nada.
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    FPTP has its real strength in continuity, as it tends to create 2 or 3 parties that share power, slowly absorbing ideas and change based on factions within those parties rather than trying to represent 1400 opinions in one legislative assembly. FPTP is, however, almost remorseless in screening out smaller/emergent political efforts. This keeps the whackoid fringers out, but makes change efforts much more difficult. The USA exemplifies both of these characteristics.

    PR has its strength in inclusivity, with all voices actively represented in the discussion within the legislative body. This is also its weakness, however, in that too many disparate voices may have great difficulty in establishing a governing coalition of some form as the legislative body may be too balkanized, with the inability of a party to develop a workable coalition granting too much de fact voice to some of the more extreme or minority "parties" in the legislative body. An example of this would be the Knesset.

    Neither approach is without value, but neither is without flaws.
    Sure, though I would argue that FPTP always exhibits its worst flaws in any setting in which it is implemented whereas the flaws of the PR system only tend to matter in a political worst case scenario (there's a reason we call it Balkanisation, after all). Interestingly that is exactly the same case in which FPTP is most blatantly "discarding" votes and artificially propping up the winner, since in this scenario every candidate or party receives very limited real public support (e.g. gaining the majority of seats by achieving 30% of the votes or less, simply because everybody else does even worse). In FPTP you are pretty much guaranteed to see its worst side even in "fair weather" (since you routinely reject approximately 50% of the vote by design[*]), with a PR system this is much less the case.

    Perhaps a bicameral legislative body with one body elected using each approach?
    Why? No, really: what advantage does artificially increasing the political power of a few most powerful factions give you? Presumably there is legislative veto power involved, so now you are adding artificial incentives for obstructionism to combat a politically disfunctional situation. How is this going to help matters?

    * Yes I am making some assumptions here, mainly that "shortfalls" and "excess" votes are relatively evenly spread and tend to cancel each other out. (E.g. for every seat gained by ~25% of the vote there would be a seat gained by ~75%.)
    Last edited by Tellos Athenaios; 11-25-2013 at 20:36.
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  26. #26
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    It's a common complaint that FPTP is an unfair system because it "props up" large parties, but the reality is that "Proportional Representation" is just as bad in its own way. It is possible, through hard work, for an individual to stand and be elected as an independent in the UK - it is considerably harder in a PR system when you don't have a party, and even if you do get elected under one of the deferred preference systems, your constituancy will ALSO elect someone from the largest party.

    The problem isn't the voting system - it's the party system - that's worst in the US where Congressmen actually have "D" or "R" before their names, but it's a problem everywhere.
    What Tellos said and in addition to this I would say that having a system that encourages the two-party system by design is far worse than having one where the people decide that having two major parties is what they want and the smaller parties still get a representation and a voice.

    Quote Originally Posted by Philipvs Vallindervs Calicvla View Post
    Make formal parliamentary parties illegal - make campaign contributions and election funding illegal. If you can't get someone to give you office space for 4 weeks and a phone line for free, so you can campaign, you don't deserve to be elected.
    Different can of worms, there is a reason that politicians get salaries and support from the government in the first place. And the reason is that without this, you end up with only rich people being politicians as a hobby of sorts that also gives them incredible influence while the poor have no representatives. I do however agree that pressure on representatives to vote according to the party line even if they disagree on a certain issue is not really a good thing because it serves to undermine the proportional representation in the worst case.

    Quote Originally Posted by Seamus Fermanagh View Post
    FPTP has its real strength in continuity, as it tends to create 2 or 3 parties that share power, slowly absorbing ideas and change based on factions within those parties rather than trying to represent 1400 opinions in one legislative assembly. FPTP is, however, almost remorseless in screening out smaller/emergent political efforts. This keeps the whackoid fringers out, but makes change efforts much more difficult. The USA exemplifies both of these characteristics.

    PR has its strength in inclusivity, with all voices actively represented in the discussion within the legislative body. This is also its weakness, however, in that too many disparate voices may have great difficulty in establishing a governing coalition of some form as the legislative body may be too balkanized, with the inability of a party to develop a workable coalition granting too much de fact voice to some of the more extreme or minority "parties" in the legislative body. An example of this would be the Knesset.

    Neither approach is without value, but neither is without flaws.

    Perhaps a bicameral legislative body with one body elected using each approach?
    If you get too many parties that can't work together, maybe the problem isn't your political system but the borders of your nation?
    If you get only two parties despite having more varied views within the population, it's a problem of under-representation where, as Tellos says, a lot of views are just outright discarded. Whereas having to find compromises and common ground may be problematic but just speaks of a nation that is very diverse and possibly needs more political discourse to find commonalities between the parties and common goals. Either way you ensure a much better representation and do not discard a lot of ideas.


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  27. #27
    has a Senior Member HoreTore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    What would be the practical, real-life consequences of banning formal parties, while allowing informal parties, PVC?
    Still maintain that crying on the pitch should warrant a 3 match ban

  28. #28

    Default Re: Aussies?

    Also it's worth pointing out that any PR system, even the most crude PR system is less forgiving of abuse since it is less inclined to support "safe seats" and it does not allow the gerrymandering to create them. A vote is a vote is a vote, regardless of where the vote comes from. Similarly seats are nice and evenly distributed over the entire population in PR, whereas in FPTP you can have the strange situation that one X% of people is "worth" more seats than the same X% in a different district. The USA is a particular egregious "offender" on both counts.

    Similarly, PR systems are IMO better if you have low voter turnout because % of the seats corresponds directly to % of the vote, allowing you to support a strong statement of mandate based on it. 60% of the seats maps to a real 60% chunk of the vote, which is a clear majority however you slice and dice it. This matters with low voter turnout (say 60% of the eligible voters) because if you are already discarding ~50% of the votes by design, your actual 60% of the seats may correspond to as little as 50% of 60% of 60% of the eligible voters which is only 18% approval in FPTP, compared to the PR system in which those same 60% seats means 60% of a turnout of 60% eligible voters or 36% approval. Unless you have a scenario in which there is a clear winner for an overwhelming majority of seats in either system your FPTP mandate is not nearly as well founded as the PR one because the way you measure support (through discarding dissent) is inherently flawed (it turns out that it doesn't really measure support, after all).

    As you can see rejecting votes is not merely a price worth paying for some perceived sense of stability (which depends rather more on how legislation is passed than who passes it, but I digress) it actually supports the concept a government that nobody voted for and nearly everyone strongly opposes (on principle or otherwise), by design. I'd ask our friends from Virginia how that is working out for them with their gubernatorial choices, but I'd like to keep the contents of my stomach where they are right now.
    Last edited by Tellos Athenaios; 11-26-2013 at 00:03.
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  29. #29
    The Black Senior Member Papewaio's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    West Islander here - that's shorthand for a Aussie-Kiwi. I too welcome our Nordic overlords... did I mention my Swedish surname ... I'm about as Swedish as IKEA, designed in Sweden assembled somewhere else.

    Back OT. Compulsory voting here isn't quite that. It is only compulsory to turn up and get your name ticked off.

    What it does do is encourage people who would have to chose between half a days pay and voting a good reason to turn up. It also prevents employers from blocking you voting by not providing time to do so. Even then if you know ahead of time you won't be present you can send in a postal vote. So there isn't any reason you can't vote if you want to but there isn't anything to compel you to vote once you do turn up.

    As for the preference voting system. We don't actually have two parties. The last government was formed by Labor and three independents with senator support from the Greens. The current government is the Coalition which is formed by the Liberals and the Nationals with the Prime Minister from the Liberals and the Deputy Prime Minister from the Nationals. The minor parties only have a small amount of the seats but it is enough that the majors need their help in getting into power.

    In NSW (New South Wales, one of the smaller Aussie states ~1.3 TX in area), it is compulsory voting for Federal, State and Local. Local elections still have a miserable turn out.
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  30. #30
    Iron Fist Senior Member Husar's Avatar
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    Default Re: Aussies?

    Also forgot to include this (yet again) in my previous posts:

    http://www.cgpgrey.com/politics-in-the-animal-kingdom/


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