Saturday, January 27, 2007

Voting at 16 and Compulsory Voting

Whilst I find myself compelled to agree with Peter Hain, MP for Neath, regarding the reduction of the voting age to 16 from 18, I cannot agree with the assertion that people should be compelled to vote.

Reducing the voting age to 16.

I feel that I must agree with this proposition, if only, for the two simple reasons highlighted below:

1. Those school leavers at the age of 16 are expected to work and pay taxes yet they have no voice in how those taxes are spent. (Thus contributing to, and causing voter apathy)

2. The hypocrisy of accepting that at the age of 16 a person can make a rational choice to join the Armed Forces and may, in times of crisis, find him/herself on the frontline fighting for the very democracy that won’t allow him/her to have a voice in.

Compulsory Voting.

There is but one overriding reason why I cannot bring myself to agree with compulsory voting. The main reason is that as an advocate of Democracy, I believe in the freedom to choose. A freedom that respects peoples choice, not just who they are going to vote for but, of whether they are going to vote or not.

Many times I have heard the argument:

“Hundreds of thousands of people have sacrificed their lives, in the past, to ensure that
we have the right to vote!”

I would like to think that they sacrificed their lives to ensure that we have the freedom to choose whether we vote or not. That is true democracy – the freedom to choose. If people choose not to vote then that is their democratic right to choose that. The way I see it is that democracy is all about the freedom of choice, and that extends to the freedom to choose whether you wish to vote – or not.

Richie Northcote
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