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That voting should be compulsory

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adminadmin (PRO)
 Hi everyone, and welcome to this debate.

This is one of those debates that, while seemingly entirely pragmatic, is actually mostly about principles. There's two reasons why - first, there are countless examples of countries that have or have not implemented compulsory voting with varying degrees of "success." When comparing impacts of policies, it is important to consider the principle values and beliefs that inform those policies, rather than just whether cops need to do more than eat donuts on election day. The second reason is because comparatives in a debate like this are inherently flawed anyway. All nations have unique circumstances that make it impossible to compare something as central to their government as their voting process.

Having just justified (somewhat) why this debate isn't a question of "look at this country - X system totally works there!" let me briefly explain what this debate is really about. The single biggest winner in just about every major election of western liberal democracies has been apathy. If "don't care" or "nobody" was on the ballot, most nations would have been in anarchy for a while. Here's an example from the USA, but it's the same trend in every major non-compulsory-voting country. This debate is about why all people should participate in the electoral process. My burden today is to demonstrate why politics is really important. If we agree that it is, then there's no problem with making it compulsory; indeed, this would solve the problem of apathy, since people will be interested in whatever this really important thing is. Also, the added engagement with the political process creates really important benefits for the really important people who should care about the really important thing. Anyway, if I justify all of that for you, then I win this debate.

I'm setting this debate in places where voting is easily accessible. While many marginalised communities exist around the world, and voting is of course disproportionally difficult for them, the natural answer to this is to make voting easy, not make it optional.

1. Everyone should vote for me
The reason why politics is really important is because Lars is currently not in power. I invite judges to check out any list of leaders of nation-states around the world and search for my name.

Some people might doubt that putting me in power would be a good idea. Bear in mind, I only need to show that I'm a better candidate than apathy, which numerous politicians have tried and failed at. If you already have a politician, faction, party, patron, warlord etc. that you commonly vote for, then that's great, and this resolution is hardly relevant to you either way. But put yourself in the mind of a non-voter. This is somebody who can't even be bothered turning up to a polling station and decide the fate of their nation by flipping a coin of truth or playing eeny, meeny, miny, moe. It's not that they don't know about politics - I mean, around election time the propaganda is hard to avoid. Politicians are on TV constantly, and frankly, nobody really understands how all of government works anyway, so their guesses are as good as mine. It's that they don't care. The thirty minutes it would take them to pop down to a polling booth is, to them, better spent looking at clouds, taking another nap, eating a bowl of chips, or whatever else might strike their fancy that day.

Here are some glorious reasons to vote for me:
  • I pledge not to turn up for work. Much like apathetic voters, I have a day job, and am happy to spend my spare time in other ways. I will hang up any calls about it, stop any online debates that might be interpreted as supporting a policy position, and never personally discuss it with anyone.
  • I won't take a politician's salary. I won't even tell the treasury my bank account details as a matter of national security. I will enlist the help of local secret services, security forces, armed militias and UN peacekeepers to prevent wads of cash being thrown at me, as the situation requires. Paying me will be literally impossible.
  • I will periodically tweet-tag and facebook message various important people in the executive branch, giving them random instructions selected by lot from community group pages. They are almost assured to ignore me after a couple of weeks and just carry on running the nation as they best see fit, since it's not like I'm providing any leadership whatsoever.

... basically, I am the ideal candidate for the lazy masses.

If you're somebody who does participate in the election process, then you're supporting a system that says "I want my ideas to be put into practice so long as most of my peers agree with me in this secret ballot." If this kind of a system appeals to you, then you should support me for government because I'm the apathetic choice. In the following argument, I want to demonstrate the impacts this has on apathetic voters.

2. Democratic benefits
Either one of two things happens as a result. Either - people don't actually follow my advice and vote for me. If they don't, then compulsory voting achieves its purpose, and apathy has not won the election. Consider what happens though if they do. Either, less likely, it works well. In this case, everyone can be happy that a functional government actually enjoys widespread support. More likely, it won't work at all. We find numerous examples of this throughout history, such as in ancient Greece when democracy was first tried. The result, in every case, has been tyranny. Even if this were not empirically true, the sheer frustration at having a government as apathetic as most people would soon drive everyone insane enough to 

If you are not convinced that politics is important, I invite you to live in a state of tyranny.

You might like it. No, really. Athens did. They preferred tyrants to being herded into the assembly to discuss laws themselves. Their own apathy was basically their undoing, from a democratic point of view. But at that point, you're basically arguing against having a democracy at all. One might as well just crown me emperor without an election. Or you might not - in this case, this proves that politics is important.

This is a good moment to recap my argument; either:
  • Politics is really important; or
  • I should be in charge.

I'll await my opponent's reply.

The resolution is affirmed.

Return To Top | Posted:
2020-04-25 06:44:53
| Speak Round
nzlockienzlockie (CON)
Hello everyone and welcome to another fascinating Edeb8! It’s always a special thrill to find myself pitted against the Champ and I wish him the best this time as well! 

In case anyone missed the start of this debate, the topic was hidden and the sides allocated randomly. This actually puts me in a slightly unusual position here because this is one of those very rare instances where I think I’m just going to argue the point honestly as myself, rather than trying to win with some clever trap or trick. 

Who Runs the World?
My honest opinion on this topic is that I think it’s most beneficial for the country if the voters are restricted.
One obvious restriction would be that they should be of a certain age. We usually do that because it’s assumed that by voting age, they’ve attained some small degree of life experience which will give them some element of critical thinking, allowing them to recognise the issues at stake and intelligently voice an opinion of their own choosing. There’s also a slightly related matter of taxes, population tracking, and wanting them to fight in wars etc, but we don’t really talk about those things as much. It’s mostly because we care about their opinions. Mostly. Definitely at least 60% anyway. 

Slightly more contentious types of restrictions might be that they should be of a certain societal class, own property, draw salary or wages... a lot of valid justification could be made for these types of restrictions. To be clear, these are not necessarily MY restrictions, but I can understand why many people think that some or all of these could be a good idea. They paint a picture of a person who is fully functioning within a society, carries their own weight, and has a vested interest in improving the strength of the nation they’re a member of. 

The goal of these restrictions is to narrow down to the optimal voters. I think we can ALL agree that the optimal voter is one who is motivated, informed, and invested. If there was a way of restricting it so that only people who met that criteria could vote, then we’d probably all vote for it. Ironically voter turnout statistics indicate that we’d probably lose if everyone actually voted, but they wouldn’t so we’d be fine. Unfortunately there is no fair way of restricting access to the ballot box to weed out the undesirables... using rules anyway! But thankfully Voter Apathy does it for us. 

TL:DR: My point is that while I think that DENYING people a vote is a step too far, I also don’t think we should be forcing everyone to vote by making it compulsory. As my opponent has already pointed out, voter apathy is a real thing. A lot of people just don’t care. They’re not invested so the specifics of who makes the government doesn’t really matter to them. Maybe they’re not informed, or possibly even medically incapable of making a informed decision. I don't want the uninformed and apathetic deciding my government!

According to my opponent’s own source, the last US election would have been decided by such voters. In fact the margin was so large, it’s fair to say that probably EVERY election would be decided by them! 
  • Do we really want to force people to vote when they’ve already demonstrated such a degree of disinterest?
  • Do we really want to force people with mental health problems, or mental disabilities to vote when, in extreme cases, they may not even be able to spell their own name or recognise their own family members? 

What benefit is that?

Infographic from PRO's source.

Don't tread on me!
Secondly, there is the concern of contravening people’s personal freedoms. 
My opponent’s entire case is based around the idea that “Politics is important!” But I’m going to argue that the most important principle is the freedom for people to choose for themselves - which often includes abstaining, and often for deeply held personal beliefs.
There are many major religions which discourage their adherents from engaging in politics. There are many followers who believe that they must separate themselves from politics to the degree that it would be morally wrong to vote in an election. Likewise and related, there are many who disagree with the structure of democracy entirely, and therefore abstain from the whole process of voting on principle. 
That is their right, and I don’t believe that society should force them to go against those beliefs. Indeed we should be protecting those rights

This resolution could be a lot more controversial if there weren’t an obvious solution... but there is one. Let’s just not make it compulsory! That way, people who WANT to vote, can - and those who don’t want, don’t have to! 
Of course, none of this means we can’t encourage society to engage in the democratic process more. It just means we stop short of threatening them with criminal behaviour if they don’t want to step into a cardboard booth with a highlighter every few years. 

Did PRO just concede the first round?
Normally I’d be doing a bit of rebuttal here. The fact is though, there’s not actually too much to comment on. 
My opponent has made a fundamental mis-statement when he’s unsuccessfully tried to reframe this resolution
The resolution IS largely pragmatic. It’s mostly a practical question about who we want to be making the important decisions for our countries. Informed engaged people, or uninformed apathetic people. 

I’d grant that there may some principles at stake as well, but they’re not that “Politics are Important”, (if that’s even a principle) they’re that the freedom to practice one’s religion should be protected, and the freedom of expression or protest should likewise be protected, and perhaps most importantly, that the right to vote comes at a cost... even if sometimes the personal cost just involves getting off the couch and going to school on a Saturday!* 

PRO's burden is to prove why these freedoms should be removed, AND why we as a society would benefit by forcing people to cast a ballot who don’t want to, or are not able to

PRO's case is uncharacteristically hard to follow, but I read it pretty carefully and I haven’t seen anything in it that addresses these issues. Therefore, I vote this resolution is NEGATED

Vote CON y’all! 
(Unless you can’t be bothered - totes your call.)

* In NZ, where both sides of this debate are from, voting is always done on a Saturday and often at a local school. Judges’ individual experiences may vary! I think you get the general gist of my point...

Return To Top | Posted:
2020-04-26 22:50:15
| Speak Round

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No worries, it was pretty obvious that this was a departure from the norm for you. I’m writing this one off as an outlier. If it’s any consolation I also spent several hours agonising over where the attack was going to come from.
I was not especially happy with a few sections of my round. I think I sacrificed some coherency and flow because I let myself get spooked by your unexpected case. I played it straight but tried to leave a few attacks open to you that I knew I could argue pretty strongly in the hopes that you would have gone down that road. My main focus was going to be the huge number of apathetic voters... but then you brought that up and that panicked me. In the end I decided to just roll with it as I felt it was my stronger suit. I knew you would smash my “freedoms” case, because I don’t really believe it myself and you ALWAYS run rings around me with that stuff. I tried to lay the groundwork for enough substance to last two more rounds, but I was playing for a draw on that argument.
You’re still the champ in my books. This is just like you slipped on a towel and fell out of the ring or something. Doesn’t really count.
Posted 2020-05-01 15:04:23
Also, perhaps more importantly, it's almost 3am, I've been thinking if there's a way to make this work for like 5 hours, and I'm sleepy.
Posted 2020-05-01 14:40:47
You know? I think I might concede this one.

I had a terrible round one... that'll teach me for being too chicken to go all-in with a Juche case. Yours was fine - I think the missing element is that it might be better for those who are apathetic not to vote (eg because random decisions are rarely good decisions & the quality of decisions affects everyone. The rebuttal I should be making here is that this elitism ("voting by the intelligent few";) is false because nobody really understands how government works ... but then that same attack also destroys my whole round one. It would be a winning line in a 4-way debate, but I can't honestly think of any rebuttal that doesn't also defeat my own case. So I've definitely shot myself in the foot.

The one line I do have is that any restrictions at all are completely arbitrary. It's a VERY boring and tedious rebuttal case though - really when it comes down to it, it's nothing more than saying "ok but why?" back to you repeatedly. But even if that works it doesn't really defend the bulk of the onus I've set for myself. If I had gone all in, I could defend it all by pointing out the people will be guided by the wisdom of the supreme leader, therefore requiring minimal wisdom of their own. Or if I hadn't done it at all, this debate would be about the necessity for popular mandate, which I sort of alluded to with a vague thingy about tyranny (and why even bother with democracy if tyranny is so cool), but although this is the solid line, it's undermined by basically everything else.

Sorry. I must be past my prime.
Posted 2020-05-01 14:39:55
Hahaha, ok well good luck!
Posted 2020-04-26 12:11:32
It's mostly the fireball. I tried to rewrite it so I do have a slim chance of winning, while keeping the central idea of the fireball case (voting for me should be compulsory; full North-Korean Juche style). But the problem is that my case is a bit of a confused mess as of now. So with the hours counting down I was just like "screw it, I'll post what I have and hope to win on rebuttals."
Posted 2020-04-26 07:43:14
I guess you went with the fireball?

I'm probably going to need to come back and read this again in the cold light of day. There might be something I'm missing here...
Posted 2020-04-25 07:05:12
Haha do the fireball one. You’ll probably win anyway and it’ll be an epic argument that you can enjoy looking back on. I often log on here just to reread the debate I did with my wife on which of our cats was better. It was totally troll-y but I don’t regret it at all.
Posted 2020-04-23 12:43:41
Ok, @nzlockie I have 2 versions of my argument typed up. I'm conflicted.

Do I give the normal, everyday, boring case for why voting should be compulsory?
Or do I get the troll-y, not-taking-this-too-seriously version of this argument?

On the plus side for version one, I'll probably win. But version two I get to make the argument of my dreams. At least then the champ will go down in a glorious fireball or something.

I'll sleep on it and try to post tomorrow. Might post the alternate argument as a comment or something.
Posted 2020-04-23 11:07:35
Right, give me one more shot at the champ! At least this time I'll be on the right side of any draws...
Posted 2020-04-20 14:10:28
The judging period on this debate is over

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