They're not voting because...
- I believe the opportunity not to participate...
I believe the opportunity not to participate must be a part of any credible democracy. Mandatory voting in countries such as Australia seems a somewhat totalitarian approach. The efforts that people have made to obtain a universal adult vote is cited as an ethical objection to non-voters - but perhaps it is more ethical to believe that they provided us the choice as to whether (as well as to how) we should vote.
It is inspiring that individuals from nascent democracies choose to vote despite great risk. But in affluent Western democracies isn't registered apathy in the form of non-votes a useful guide to level of political engagement and thus a possible spur to change? Not turning up is a valuable political statement and offers something distinct from opting for 'none of the above' or spoiling the ballot paper. I feel it is my moral and civic duty to express my disaffection via a 'no-show'.written 20th Apr 2005
Gavin replies: The trouble is, you will be bundled in with everyone else who didn't vote. While arguably apathy itself is a valid political position, it may not accurately represent your views. Paper spoiling, I would have thought, was a better way to register an actual objection, unless disinterest is truely your position.written 20th Apr 2005
Edward replies: I think that the disaffected 'bundle' is making a point cumulatively. If I make a positive decision not to vote I fully accept that my non-vote cannot be dissociated from an uninterested mass. As stated above, not voting offers something different to spoiling a ballot paper. The former shows apathy, the latter politically engaged protest. Both should be quantifiable aspects of the democratic process.
Electoral outcomes should represent as accurately as possible the views of the population: it's not a genuine democratic process if the confused and bored are not represented. Being, or feeling, compelled to vote even though you have no inclination removes the possibility for 'unconscious protest' as well as deliberate expressions of indifference.written 20th Apr 2005