Thursday, November 09, 2006

compulsory voting argument

Ralph Nader on DemNow:
AMY GOODMAN: The issue of money and politics, something you take on in a very big way. According to the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics, at least 2.8 billion dollars were spent in this election, making these the most expensive midterm elections in history. I want to talk about this big money in the big parties, the two big parties, and also third party politics today, and what you saw around the country.

RALPH NADER: Well, first of all, the mess with the voting machinery and the registration situation, this country is a mockery of obstructing people to vote, going back to the post-Civil War era. Now they have new ways to do it through these machines, through not distributing the machines, through challenging people's voting credentials. There's no other Western democracy that requires registration. In Canada, if you are counted as part of the regular census, you vote, period.

And so, what we need in this country, first of all, is a complete reform of electoral laws, including one federal standard for candidates running for federal office, for Congress and for the President, not 50 different state standards and more county standards. There needs to be criminal prosecutions. Notice you can obstruct people's right to vote, you can do what happened in Ohio and Florida, and because both parties want to be able to do it, if they're in power, at the state level, there's no prosecution tradition here, as there is, say, for procurement fraud. So nobody goes to jail. So, every two or four years, it's going to happen, more and more and more. And the number of ways that people can be obstructed from voting -- votes can be miscounted; that people can be falsely designated as ex-felons; the extent to which voting rolls can be shrunken, like in Cleveland, Ohio, by a Republican state government, Blackwell, Secretary of State -- all this is going to happen again and again, unless you have crackdowns, unless you have task forces that will prosecute these violations, and unless you have a national debate about universal voting, Amy.

We've got to ask ourselves -- jury duty is the only civic duty in our Constitution. We have a whole Bill of Rights, but we have very few duties. And if we have to obey thousands of laws passed by lawmakers, it seems to me that having voting be a civic duty, as it is in Australia and Brazil and some other countries, is the way to clear away all these manipulations and obstructions, because if you have a legal duty to vote --

AMY GOODMAN: You mean, mandatory.

RALPH NADER: Yes. If you have the duty to vote, then obstructing it becomes a very serious crime, whereas now it's just, you know, the political game the two parties play against one another. And the discussion of mandatory voting would include a binding “none of the above.” So you can go to the polls or absentee vote for the ballot line, you can vote write-in, you can vote for your own person, write in your own name, or you can vote for a binding “none of the above.” I think that takes care of any civil liberties problems. But it should be decided by a special national referendum.
yay, us.

I've made the pro-compulsory voting argument before.


Mizgîn said...

The US has sponsored mandatory voting before. In El Salvador in 1982 and 1984.

When you voted, they stamped your ID card to prove that you'd done your "patriotic duty." Failure to vote (i.e. get your ID card stamped) was an act of treason. Given that thousands of people had been slaughtered by the US-backed Salvadoran government, you can imagine what would be the scenario if you were stopped by authorities--the military--and you didn't have the stamp.

Same thing in Guatemala.

Nicaragua did not have a US-backed voting system.

rimone said...

luke: I've made the pro-compulsory voting argument before.

yup and i totally agree w/you, now more than ever.

LeeB said...

Wouldn't that just kick the shit out of the tricky bit of threatening people with arrest if they show up to vote! Ha!

Glad to see yer still breathing -- my ISP is doing maintenance on the servers so I'm cut off from email for several more hours. bummer.

Oh, well . . . might as well go sleep! ;-)

calipendence said...

Then we can laugh at those people who don't vote and lose money, etc. in fines, instead of them laughing at us for voting and "wasting our time"...

Kathleen said...

I'll bet those purple fingers were the way to stay alive in Iraq too.

lukery said...

hmmm - seems most of you dont agree with me on this - you want me to justify it again?