Discuss should voting in the United Kingdom General Election be made compulsory for everyone over?
In my opinion, voting must be made compulsory for everybody in UK. Though UK is a democratic country, it is mandatory for the government to elect their representatives. It is a civic duty for people to vote. People have a right to express their own opinions and choose their own leaders. Being citizens of UK, people must have a right to complain against the leaders if they do not adhere with the responsibilities. Voting involves people and gets everything common for the country. It gives a clear understanding of election and politics and people.
The arguments in favour of compulsory voting are that it is a duty of citizens to choose their own representatives. It gives people the right to complain or criticize the government if they do wrong. The non-voters have no right to speak against or place their suggestions if they do not vote. Voting is an important contribution to the community. It gives people a say in country’s matters and its future. It encourages people and gets their interests in country’s politics. People get a chance to choose a better government. The politicians after being chosen by the people may get a sense to work harder to the country and frame a better future (the Guardian, 2005).
According to Benwell (2014), a healthy democracy needs a high voter turnout. If this does not happen, the powerful will only support and act in favor of people who have a contribution in putting them in a superior position. People always complain about politicians that they do not contribute enough. By not voting, people give them a chance to act according to their own wish and there will be no liability on them to act in good of others. UK has the largest differences in voter turnout as the way politics works there. It is argued that compulsory voting is a good thing. The whole nation must be obliged to go to polls and elect their representatives (Badham, 2013). According to Engelen (2007), compulsory voting can enhance democracy. The people in UK generally choose not to vote even though they are able to exercise their rights to elect. The democratic values of equality and political participation can be enhanced. There will also be a raise in turnout. It is argued that UK has less than 60 per cent of electorate voted in previous times. Compulsory voting enhances both ethical as well as political grounds. A genuine democratic choice can be made by the people and pushes the government to make ethical decisions. The people who refuse to vote can be parasitic who do not fulfill the responsibilities. Not voting creates a vicious circle in the economy as the people do not get attention and action from parties. Compulsory voting is for public good. It brings about equality in the nation as seen in case of Australia, Greece and Belgium where voting is compulsory. Voting is necessary to protect the powerless and at times of national stress (Lse.ac.uk, 2015)
The arguments against compulsory voting in UK are that it does not enhance democracy. People have their own rights which must not be merged with their line of duty. If people in UK are forced to vote, they would not vote intelligently. They would just do as their line of duty. They have a mindset that there is no use to voting as the politicians do not listen anyways. Compulsory voting must not be put up as action for reward or punishment. People must be persuaded to vote and not forced or coerced to vote. In compulsory voting, people would vote not because they want a particular party to win, but they would vote just because they have to vote (Smith, 2015).
It is argued that UK is a democratic country and the people have a right to make their own choices. They must not be forced to vote; instead they must be persuaded to vote by running campaigns and telling them the benefits of voting on ethical and political grounds. People who have religious or any other objection would like to abstain from voting (Garay, 2014). According to David Bentley at Citivas, compulsory voting does not promote real democratic engagement. It is not just a tick making concept but a decision making process to elect representatives who would work for a common good (BBC News, 2015). According to Lardy (2004), there is a right not to vote. The liberty of such a right would be violated if people in UK are forced to vote. It is argued that the only way to involve the younger generation in politics is not compulsory voting. People must care and worry about whom they choose as their representative. Instead of making voting compulsory, a ballot paper can be provided to people asking them why they do not want to vote. It is argued that elections must not be conducted on Thursdays and arrangements must be made online in this tech-savvy world where voting can be conducted online. This would save time for people who have issues going to the poll. They won’t be able to excuse themselves with this particular constraint and a reason not to vote (The Week UK, 2015). Compulsory voting would increase apathy among people. It must not be implemented just for a reason that a few other countries like Australia and Greece have it.
It is concluded that the compulsory voting in UK has its own pros and cons. The UK government must have compulsory voting as it would involve more number of people. The people can decide upon whom they want as their representative. The politicians are bound to act in favor of people if they are elected by the people. On the other hand, compulsory voting takes away the democracy from people with forcing them with a decision. They would not vote because they want to arrive at a decision and choose their head, but they would just do as their duty as it would be bounded by law. Instead, younger generation may be involved by providing education on politics that would persuade them to vote every time.
Badham, V. (2013). Of course compulsory voting is a good thing | Van Badham. [online] the Guardian. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/aug/21/compulsory-voting-good [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
BBC News, (2015). Should voting (or actively abstaining) be compulsory? - BBC News. [online] Available at: https://www.bbc.com/news/uk-politics-30709153 [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
Benwell, M. (2014). The local election results prove why everyone should be forced to vote. The Independent. [online] Available at: https://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/the-local-election-results-prove-why-everyone-should-be-forced-to-vote-9427739.html#commentReference [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
Engelen, B. (2007). Why Compulsory Voting Can Enhance Democracy. Acta Polit, 42(1), pp.23-39.
Garay, J. (2014). Compulsory Voting Serves the Colombian State, Not Constituents. [online] PanAm Post. Available at: https://panampost.com/javier-leonardo-garay-vargas/2014/10/06/compulsory-voting-serves-the-colombian-state-not-constituents/ [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
Lardy, H. (2004). Is there a Right not to Vote?. Oxford Journal of Legal Studies, 24(2), pp.303-321.
Lse.ac.uk, (2015). Is compulsory voting justified? - Politics - Research highlights - Research and expertise - Home. [online] Available at: https://www.lse.ac.uk/researchAndExpertise/researchHighlights/politics/isCompulsoryVotingJustified.aspx [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
Smith, F. (2015). A Case Against Mandatory Voting. [online] The American Spectator. Available at: https://spectator.org/articles/37230/case-against-mandatory-voting [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
the Guardian, (2005). Compulsory voting around the world. [online] Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2005/jul/04/voterapathy.uk [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
The Week UK, (2015). Is compulsory voting the only way to involve the young?. [online] Available at: https://www.theweek.co.uk/election-2015/62296/is-compulsory-voting-the-only-way-to-involve-the-young [Accessed 2 Aug. 2015].
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