Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Don't Destroy A Good Idea

The Institute of Public Policy Research (IPPR) are proposing that first time voting should be made compulsory, yet other voting should remain voluntary. See here.

Whatever, the rights and wrongs are for compulsory voting: the IPPR are wrong to propose having a two-tier voting system, with voting being compulsory for some and not for others. All voters should be given the same status.

Labour is supposed to be interested in the IPPR Report, with a view to attaching the notion to their proposal for Votes for 16s. This would make things even worse. How can we treat 16 year olds as adults and give them the vote, then say because they are not really adults they will be forced into using their first vote? Talk about crossed messages.

Let us have votes at 16, with electoral registration taking place via schools for 15 year olds in readiness for them attaining the vote. Then run courses for the 15 year olds at school about voting and democracy.

Schools, Colleges and Universities can then be used as a means of updating registers. For those who have left educational institutions, a pro-active re-registration system can be put in place. This would track and catch up with people as they move, in order to get them to re-register. Advertising could also be used to alert people to the need to re-register. If Wonga can use the media to sell their dangerous services, then the State can do it for a worthy purpose. If the State adopted relevant legislation, they could oblige the media to run their adverts for free. Electoral Returning Officers could also be funded to arrange for door to door canvassing to encourage re-registration. All registration should be compulsory, with the numbers fined starting to match up to the numbers of non-registrations. 

But we should treat everyone in the same way.  Not forced voting for some, but it not mattering for others.

My own preference is for all voting to be voluntary. It is up to political parties, individual candidates, political activists and the media to start interesting people in politics and to show that it can have real meaning to people's lives.  As the Labour Party are now advocating votes at 16, they have a special responsibility on this matter.

A universal franchise is only part of the democratic process. But it is an essential element.


treborc said...

I do not know think I would go to prison before being forced to vote, only once in my adult life I did not vote and that was at the last election, we did not have much of a choice really Tory or Tory lite.

But I think forcing people to vote at 16 you had better make sure you have the courts ready.

Harry Barnes said...

We need determined voting, not compulsory voting. For that we need electoral contenders who believe in what they are pushing. But until we get high registration figures we can't get a wide public understanding as to just how few have actually voted. When we appreciate how bad things are, then more policitians might give some serious thought as to how we turn the tide. If fewer and fewer politicians have ideas and beliefs; then how can people believe in them? Where, for instance, is a modern Nye Bevan who will both defend and seek to advance the NHS?

treborc said...

True these days Politician have to have accounts and tax law solicitors to see if they can flip a home or not.