- a democratic system in which everyone is "required" to participate in the political process is desirable state of affairs
- the voting process is the best way of choosing these democratic representatives, as opposed to a civil servant exam, selection by lot (randomness, like jury duty), or some other type of system. Personally I like the idea of combining the two: pass an exam to be placed into a "potentials" pool, from which representatives are selected randomly. Then have a background check after that, etc.
- That the best solution is to figure out why people aren't voting and change their mind, and not to develop a different method of selecting government officials
It would be much more interesting (to me, at least) to explore other forms of government that maintain the benefits of civil liberties, open society, etc. without relying on the flawed media popularity contest that is voting. There is plenty of political and philosophical writing on this - we simply need to be willing to try it out.
As to your second point - there could certainly be ways to address that. But the exam is a minor filter - the real selection would be via randomness, as I mentioned. If anything, the test makers would have less control over the officials than our current lobbyist system.
Step 1: Make the test extremely difficult so essentially nobody passes.
Step 2: Allow a de facto exemption for some group based on an arbitrary qualification you can control (e.g. automatic pass to those deemed to have "good community standing.")
Step 3: One of your pre-chosen candidates wins the random selection since they make up the entire candidate pool.
You’d simply design the system in a way in which the test is chosen by the population and/or by an entity separate from the representatives. At worst, you’d get the current three-part division of power system which most democratic countries are based on.
Indeed the very first objection you got was "literacy tests are racist". If you read the wiki page for it you'll see that the argument is not about whether they actually tested literacy or not (after the initial phase when "good moral character" exemptions disappeared), but rather whether it was legitimate to exclude new waves of immigrants who didn't speak good English at all (Italians, Russians ...).
Whether to even check the ID of voters in a rigorous way is opposed on similar grounds. If you can't check the ID of voters you certainly can't check their ID when they apply to become bureaucrats, and if you can't even answer "who is this applicant" then how can you answer more sophisticated questions about them?
Of course you can't. One man's merit is another man's vice. The very notion of a meritocracy is literally a sarcastic joke .
But the problem is even worse than that. EVEN IF if you could define a universally agreeable "meritocratic" system, you would still have the problem that people with power would abuse the system to lock out others.
Suppose 100% "meritocratic" people were selected at random. They then immediately change the rules. Now 99.99% of people disagree with the legal definition of "meritocratic". But tough shit, cause this ain't a democracy, and the other 00.01% of people have all the power.
I don’t see why this is controversial. It’s no different than “fair” or “justified” or innumerable other values that a society has to work out a definition for.
I think the point of the comment you're responding to is that it's not defined by the society implementing it, but by those in power. So whether the idea of 'merit' changes across time and culture might be true, but is beside the point.
Things like this happen sometimes:
Citizens of a democratic nation have one job to do.
If they’re not doing it, the question must be Why?
I don't actually think it's important why someone doesn't vote, so long as their right to vote isn't impeded. I have a theory that society, like many other systems, tends to take on more stable forms over time. Part of the reason democracy has been so stable is that it allows people, who would otherwise be unhappy and want to change things, a chance to have a say. Non-voters are already a "stable" part of society, since they apparently don't have strong enough feelings to go vote for something different. I don't see a problem with that.
And they are doing their job. Voting was never a job.
This seems circular, and makes it sound like citizens exist to serve the government rather than the other way around.
When you fix your car, does your car benefit? When you remodel your house, does your house benefit?
In my mind, government functions, and ideally it functions in service of the people.
Arguably, though, this process would just move the problem of voter apathy back a step, unless there is some reason to expect that voting for exams is more motivating (or more reasonable to make mandatory) than voting for candidates. Also, it's not clear that the exam would be testing anything other than candidates' memory, as presumably the correct answers would have to be published in advance for the citizens to check.
In any case, the question isn’t whether an exam would be perfect, but whether it would be better than voting. There are certainly plenty of biases involved in the voting process: appearance, public speaking ability, etc. These biases might already be greater than any which arise from an exam.
I remind you that “democratic system” is not the same thing as “voting system.”
I am happy to be proven wrong but sadly I think this is the state of affairs now.
For other offices, many of these are highly contested, and the top two primary system makes primary voting more important than it used to be; especially since there are fewer voters, your vote has more weight.
For all of measures and propositions, many of those are highly contested, and you should vote on those. Especially in California, where anything enacted by voters cannot be changed except by voters, unless its found unconstitutional by the courts. (Washington state legislators are apparentlty sometimes able to modify or repeal voter passed measures; other states may vary)
I live abroad but as my last residence was Texas, that's where my vote winds up counting (federal elections only) and it's a serious pain:
- my ballot has to mailed back
- I'm actually given multiple mailing addresses (it's unclear which I should actually use)
- I live in a country without a traditional postal service and thus have to hand deliver my ballot to the the embassy or use an expensive private courier service (UPS, FedEx, etc.)
- I have no way to know if my ballot was actually counted (did I fill some field out wrong, not print the "security envelope" right, use the wrong number of envelopes, etc. - the instructions are very unclear)
And in the end ... well, Texas is pretty much a foregone conclusion anyway. It's discouraging, to say the least.
There's a CGP Grey video about it too.
Also not mentioned: prisoners and ex-cons are largely denied the right to vote. Florida lifting that on ex-cons should be interesting.
41 states do not permanently disenfranchise people for convictions. 6 states permanently disenfranchise some convicts (only for certain crimes or repeat offenders), and only 3 states disenfranchise all felony convicts.
Actually in most states they can vote. Florida is an important exception, but an exception still.
I don't vote on purpose, I see that as a vote against the typical choices given,none of which I can reconcile with my views in any of the important topics. Not stating a political opinion,just telling you what I am thinking when I don't vote. I have no plan on being in politics. I know better than to think a dual party system is significantly different than a single party system. I also believe the freedom and liberties of the west are mostly a result of a strong military and abundance of resources. Right now there are so many messed up things, I cannot vote for one thing and accept a lesser evil,not only because I believe you should never accept evil of any magnitude but also because the evils of either side are too extreme for me to be involved with. I don't mind paying taxes, contributing to society and trying to be come a better social person but the duopoly of US politics is a system I must vote against by not voting at all. I don't care which bad guy wins.
I do think that the big parties should be broken up so that people actually have a voice. I like how parliamentary systems form a coalition of different parties to form a government. No confidence votes against the PM and it's never some guy running for office to rescue the country like in the US. It shouldn't be about any single person. I have no hope of any of this happening. I see the US swinginf from one extreme to the other tearing itself apart to the delight of its foes, why should I help destroy the one country keeping the balance of power in the world , so that wars break out and millions die? Will no one listen to history's plea?
That's my perspective at least, I am sure others have their reason. But to a lesser degree at least, I think many just don't agree with the choices so they choose "none of the above". Look at any site with political leanings, centrists are mocked and hated by everyone. It's not so much the government system but the people themselves that can't grapple with magnitudes of the extreme sides they are taking.
Otherwise, it looks the same as 'everyone else is doing a fine job voting, my input isn't needed'
I have noticed a division of two means us vs them. A division of more than two is us vs us (we need to work together not apart since no one can have a super majority)
Look at it this way - let's say it takes you 15 minutes to drive to your polling place, 30 minutes to vote, and Lord knows how many hours to figure out which candidates you should even vote for. And what is the value of a single vote? Specifically, what is the chance that a single vote will change an election? Almost zero.
Ergo, at the individual level, the effort of participating in the electoral process does not appear to be a rational choice.
I think this is a failure of the philosophy of individualism and the atomization of the individual from society, instead of an understanding where people take part and do things in society that primarily benefit society instead of themselves
But humans get other value from voting. Social benefits, for example, by showing that you care about something. It has been shown that when you tell someone that you'll send a list of who didn't vote to their neighbors... Then it increases turn out.
The US first needs to establish an independent electoral commission to set district boundaries and run the elections fairly like in other countries.
The UK commission doesn't set electoral boundaries though, Parliament does that. They just run other aspects of elections.
Regularly criticised by whom? I'm guessing the side that is found to be breaking electoral rules.
> they've been slapped down by judges in some high profile cases, where the judges basically said the commission didn't understand electoral law and/or appeared to be deliberately engaging in political harassment.
Maybe the law was vague, or maybe, get this, the judges were biased and the commissioners were actually correct.
Unfortunately we're now living in a world where politicians and institutions and court cases are evaluated not based on any objective truth, but on whether "my side" beats "the other side". Perhaps it's always been like that, as the history of gerrymandering shows, but it does seem that the polarisation and tribalism is more extreme or more blatant now.
Politicians have criticised it. Journalists have criticised it. The Metropolitan Police have criticised it. High court judges have criticised it. Exonerated members of the public have criticised it. The archives here detail various setbacks and screwups the EC has had, along with evidence for the prior sentences:
The EC is the kind of thing you find in a banana republic. It's indefensible. You can't claim to be a neutral arbiter of fairness in elections when investigations you refer to the police are repeatedly thrown out because they were so shoddily done, when multiple judges say you don't understand electoral law, when it's been found you issued incorrect advice to campaigners, when politicans from both major parties are calling for you to be disbanded and - most critically - when the people running it repeatedly proclaim their hatred for political causes and parties in public. The idea these people are unbiased is absurd. The director of regulation at the EC posted this to Facebook:
"[Louise Edwards] cannot believe she lives under a Tory PM again! What is wrong with people? Do they not remember the last time? Words fail me, grrr."
"Just can't understand what people were thinking. Do they not remember the Tories before?"
"[Louise Edwards] doesn't want to live under a Tory government"
How can anyone believe British elections are run fairly when the people trusted to run them literally post on the internet that they don't want one side to win? Unsurprisingly, people don't.
The entire thing is a textbook example of how completely corrupted government bureaucracies can get the moment they're not directly run by people who might lose their job at the next election. The EC should have been shut down years ago.
The only way to deregister is to move overseas (I checked: conscientious objection and religious reasons do not qualify)
That’s not entirely accurate, though in practice it has been the case so far.
Subsection 245(14) of the Electoral Act, and section 13A of the Referendum Act, provides that “the fact that an elector believes it to be part of his or her religious duty to abstain from voting constitutes a valid and sufficient reason for failing to vote.” 
That said, you’re right that concientious objection to voting (or a personal moral objection) is insufficient reason, and there is yet to be a religious duty that has been held by a court to be sufficient reason to avoid the obligation to vote. Indeed, I think it would be tough to think of a religion where a central tenet is “don’t vote”. Perhaps there is one, but it doesn’t come easily to mind.
The alternative is to not vote, wait for the 'fine' to come in and then declare reasons on why your 'fine' should be lifted. This was also explained to me on the same call. The whole phone call was highly skewed towards: you may as well vote (even informally), as it's easier.
> One of the strongest factors affecting voter turnout is whether voting is compulsory. In Australia, voter registration and attendance at a polling booth have been mandatory since the 1920s, with the most recent federal election in 2016 having turnout figures of 91% for the House of Representatives and 91.9% for the Senate.
Not people struggling to keep their lives together or anyone without some leverage in their life.
Add in that the majority of the population in the US presidential have votes that are statistically irrelevant and I think parts of the problem become clear.
Add to that the two party system that encourages the largest extremes from each side and most people probably don't actively want to vote for anyone.
My simplistic refinement would be lots of candadites with points that could be put towards or against anyone in any amount. Maybe even more than one round of voting to eliminate someone mostly just taking votes away from someone else.
Even if you choose not to vote for a national-level issue/candidate/party, at least do participate in things that affect your community.
Then there are the various state voter suppression acts that deliberately make it harder to vote (and IMO constitute an unconstitutional poll tax).
Those all make voting expensive.
Here’s what I’d want: states must be required to provide enough voting booths and facilities to keep voting lines to less than (say) 30 minutes. They must ensure that 90% (say) of the voting populace is with 30 minutes of a polling facility, and 80% within 30 minutes walking distance of such.
States with voter suppression laws must provide IDs for free, and have similar to the above facilities for applying for those free IDs. Their turn around for those IDs must be timely, and delivery of the IDs should also be free.
Note: any step that requires a citizen to pay money to get an voting ID is a poll tax, and therefore unconstitutional.
I'd much rather have a lottery system, because I trust the general population to be honest much more than I trust politicians to be honest.
American Dream chaser:
TL;DR: VOTE! Make your voice heard!
It's still hard to believe that in the 90s Ross Perot got 20% of the votes but this resulted in zero representation. No wonder people think that their votes don't matter. If you vote Republican in California it's pretty much a waste too.
Personally I vote third party out of principle because I don't want to be forced to pick between two more or less corrupt choices. But in the current system it's almost hopeless to ever have a viable third party. I am pretty sure if a third party became more powerful the two established parties would gang up on them quickly to make sure their nice, comfortable duopoly keeps all the power.
It's also possible that that might happen without the intentionality or explicit coordination part.
For example, the successful third party might supplant the role of one of the existing major parties, marginalizing it.
Watching how it plays out in Europe is instructive. What you see in PR systems is many parties, all of whom enter Parliament and none of whom have a majority. This leads to:
- Long delays whilst they try to form alliances with each other, often unsuccessfully. Belgium went without a government for 541 days. Having no government for three-six months is quite common.
- Alliances that make no sense at all and make a mockery of the parties political manifestos, e.g. right wing and left wing parties forming an alliance then not being able to actually do anything because they fundamentally don't agree on much. Germany used to have one of these. Then they attempted to form an alliance between the Greens (hard left socialists) and their libertarian party! As you can imagine, that didn't last long.
- A very similar issue is that parties can win a lot of votes and still get no influence, because the other parties hate them so much they refuse to ever form an alliance with them. This happens to conservative parties a lot. For instance in the Netherlands the PVV is the second biggest party by vote share, but every other party refused to enter an alliance with them so their voters have no influence on the government. The alliance required to achieve this took 208 days to put together and 225 to formally start work in the cabinet, so the Dutch people were without representation for more than half a year because their politicians refused to contemplate compromising with the second largest party.
[Modified] first past the post as used by the USA and the UK isn't perfect, but it results in elections having a clear winner who can then (mostly) implement what they said they would implement. In PR countries end up being ruled by what are effectively new political parties which didn't actually exist when voters went to the ballot boxes, may have policies that were never discussed during the election and which may still exclude the preferences of large chunks of the voters, including even the largest chunk.
What if none of the candidate represent your voice?
But more and more, I've just become sick and tired of voting for people who support wars. Ranging from foreign intervention to the drug war aka the war on personal freedom. I mean, why should I vote for people who would put my friends and me in jail?
In essence: educate yourself, and choose what you believe would would be the least worst for the country as a whole.
Considering what we've come to understand about the benefits of fasting and the mediocrity of airplane food, you're probably better off skipping the meal.
I’m willing to bet the restaurant had peanut cross contamination in the kitchen.
If the stakes aren't quite as high as that, you could try voting for a third party or a write-in candidate.
And like I said, I'm tired of it.
If you vote for or against the pre-determined candidates in these "one party" states --- your vote don't matter. The only case where your vote might matter is in a swing state.
The really amazing (and illogical) thing would be if more than 50% voted.
Local elections are also vastly more important than most assume. Roads, schools, local policing, etc are the services that most affect people in their day to day lives and that’s mostly decided in local elections.
In reality in the USA, it's much more effective to just donate $100 to some political interest group of yours, and be done with it.