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Resolved: In a democracy, voting ought to be compulsory
And so begins another debate season, and what better way to kick it off than with a terrible topic that students will inevitably turn into a definition debate. The NFL continues to produce in great form. Nevertheless, let’s slog forward through this mush.
Definitions and Parts of Speech
Democracy (noun) – This is a tricky term to define. The spirit of the resolution really means that it should be debated in the context of a democratic government. This means that people are represented either through elected officials or through direct voting on issues. Democratic governments are committed to human rights and fundamental equality. That being said, it’s still possible to define this as an absolute democracy where everyone votes on everything. The evaluation of the resolution may very well change depending upon the definition. In this case, I’m OK with students defining it either way, but you should only define it as an absolute democracy if that’s what your arguments revolve around. If you’re doing it just to be abusive or limit scope to gain an advantage, then don’t.
Voting (noun) - Voting here is a noun. The act of voting is a thing that should or should not be required. We all know what voting is, so there’s no reason to quibble over this. You indicate a formal preference for one option or another regarding a political matter. Voting could be construed to mean voting for anything (like which movie to see with your friends), and someone will inevitably try to do that. Again, don’t.
Ought to be (verb) - Simply defined, this means that something should be. This is the crux of your case, and it will be outlined in your value structure. Since the government is the agent of action which will make voting compulsory, you must determine how we decide what the government should or should not do.
Compulsory (adjective) - Compulsory means that there is a negative consequence for not doing something, and that consequence will be enforced by the government (in this case). Do not let anyone try to tell you that compulsory voting will not necessarily come with a consequence. Just like taxes are compulsory, so should voting; that’s what you’re debating.
Alright, let’s get some case positions out there.
1. Democracy must have everyone vote to be legitimate - The whole principle behind a democracy is that it should be run by the will of the people, not just by the will of the people who choose to vote. Unless we get everyone to the ballot box, it’s impossible to actually get an accurate representation of what the people want, and because of that uncertainty, the democracy will remain illegitimate.
2. Mathematically speaking, compulsory voting is required to have a statistically accurate vote - In past U.S. elections, the margin of error has been greater than the difference in the vote. This means that those elections were not actually mathematically accurate as a result of the number of people who chose not to vote. Technically speaking,w e still don’t actually know who should’ve won those elections. To eliminate this problem, voting needs to be compulsory.
3. Rights come with obligations - Every right comes with a corresponding obligation, and at the point where one fails to fulfill that obligation, one loses the claim to that right. If I fail my obligation not to kill, I sacrifice my right to life. Similarly, if I fail my obligation to vote, then I should lose the corresponding right.
1. We have a right not to use freedom of speech - Requiring voting violates an individual’s right not to exercise his/her rights. After all, silence is also a form of speech, and requiring someone to use their speech is technically a violation of the freedom of speech altogether.
2. It will artificially inflate the vote - If somebody doesn’t want to vote, then they probably shouldn’t be voting. They will not be well informed on the issues, and their ballot will essentially be random and meaningless. This may actually result in a negative outcome for the population.
3. The government does not have the right to require voting - In a democratic government, a vote should decide whether or not a vote is compulsory. Ergo, the government itself does not have the authority to make voting compulsory. And because the vote requiring compulsory voting cannot be compulsory, it will never achieve an accurate result to begin with.
I hope that helps get you started. Good luck!