We shouldn’t be required by law to vote, but we should practice our duty as citizens
Whether or not voting should be made mandatory has often been debated. While some believe that those who don’t vote should be fined, I disagree. A key tenet of western democracy is the right to vote. A right is something that is granted to those who live in any given society. According to the CIA World Factbook, 22 countries currently have it as law that you must vote. In Australia, one of the 22, the government implements a $20 fine for those who don’t vote in federal elections. However, just because you are afforded a right, does not mean you have to use it.
In my opinion, the government forcing you to participate in a vote goes against what freedom means. Voting isn’t a job—we vote because it is a right that was fought for, and to voice our opinion on how society works. In the last Canadian federal election in October 2015, about 68 per cent of eligible Canadians participated in the vote, a notable increase from 2011, where just over 61 per cent participated, according to Global News. In comparison, voter turnout in the Australian 2016 election was at 91 per cent, the lowest since mandatory voting was introduced in 1925, according to sources from the Australian government’s website. Obviously, the forced voting produces a bigger turnout, and that is, in theory, better for a democratic society.
The problem with mandatory voting is that it becomes less of a right and more of a demand. Do I want every single eligible Canadian to vote? Absolutely—voting is, in my opinion, the most important aspect to maintaining a free society. However, when voting is no longer in our control, it defeats the purpose entirely.
I consider voting a democratic duty rather than a decision a government makes for you. In order to be a functioning member of society, you must participate in voting. If you are eligible to vote, and you choose not to, I believe you have no right to complain about who’s in charge of our government.
Since our confederation in 1867, according to several sources including Veteran Affairs, over 115,000 Canadians have died to not only defend our freedom to vote, but to ensure that millions around the globe can as well.
If your preferred candidate doesn’t win, at the end of the day, that is still democracy. If you fulfilled your duty as a citizen, your opinion matters just as much as those who voted for the winning candidate. Become politically active and peacefully protest if you don’t like the actions of a politician. As soon as you stop participating, you give the politician more power over you. I urge everyone to vote, even if their political views differ from mine. I would much rather have my political ideas challenged in a democratic society than have those ideas go unopposed.
I say this because that is what democracy is all about; groups of people with different opinions coming together, to make a country better. Is our system perfect? Of course not––politics is a messy business, but when you don’t participate, it encourages corruption.
When people don’t vote, I believe they shouldn’t be upset that their opinion isn’t taken seriously. When you choose to not vote, you are just as responsible for passing that law, as the hand that signs the bill.
Graphic by Ana Bilokin