Compulsory voting is a system in which voters are obliged to vote in elections or find themselves subject to a penalty, such as fines or community service. As of August 2013, 22 countries, including 12 Latin American countries, have laws for compulsory voting and 11 of these 22 countries enforce these laws in practice.
The initial question therefore is “Should voting be compulsory?”. I would argue that it should not be if we view voting as a civic duty, but should be compulsory if voting was an earned right. There will be those that say voting is a civic duty, and those like me, who would say it is a civic right.
If people get sick of their current government, they have no right to complain if they could be not be bothered voting. My view is that you deserve the government the majority of people vote for. I do though object to having a very left wing political organisation who garner votes by giving their core voters ”free money”, this is not free, it is not the government’s, it is hard working taxpayer or corporate entities money being distributed to many who choose to be on benefits as a lifestyle choice.
Bear with me, benefits are a much needed necessity for those who have fallen on hard times or those who are ill. It is a safety net, which perhaps through serious illness may indeed be needed for the rest of their life. But the fact remains that Labour have, in government and opposition, advanced policies that extend welfare dependency, presumably in the hope that those dependent on welfare will automatically vote Labour.
Here in the UK, the following are not eligible to vote:
a. Members of the House of Lords (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)
b. EU citizens resident in the UK (although they can vote at elections to local authorities, devolved legislatures and the European Parliament)
c. Anyone other than British, Irish and qualifying Commonwealth citizens
d. Convicted persons detained in pursuance of their sentences (though remand prisoners, un-convicted prisoners and civil prisoners can vote if they are on the electoral register)
e. Anyone found guilty within the previous five years of corrupt or illegal practices in connection with an election
f. Those who can’t be bothered to register.
For me, the right to vote, is a right that is earned, not given. I would therefore like to add a number of further qualifications that must be met before someone has the right to vote.
In order to have the right to vote, in my view, you should be in at least one of the following categories:
a. Above the age of 21 and at least one of the following:
b. Existing Armed Service member (and their legal spouse) who have served for at least 3 years.
c. A person (and their spouse) who has served at least 3 years in the Armed services, within the last 18 years and were not discharged with disgrace.
d. A serving member of the Police, Ambulance, Fire Service, medical doctor, nurse and school teacher (and their legal spouse) who have served at least 3 years.
e. A person (and their legal spouse) who has served for at least 3 years in the Police, Ambulance, Fire Service, medical doctor, nurse and school teacher, within the last 12 years, and were not discharged with disgrace.
f. A person (and their legal spouse) who has paid more than 5 years into national income tax, and within the last 8 years.
g. A retired person, based on the government age for receiving their national pension (and their legal spouse) who did meet at least one of the above criteria, but may no longer be paying income tax.
h. Those with a permanent disability who are unable to work, doctors certificate required every 3 years.
i. Those who did meet at least one of the above criteria, but have a temporary disablement that stops them from working.
j. Full time carers, until such time as their caring duty ceases.
Spouse is defined as the legal partner in a relationship. Only 1 spouse is allowed. If you divorce, end of rights for the spouse, unless they qualify in their own right.
So, persons excluded from voting would be:
a. Anyone who has not worked and paid tax for at least 5 years out of the last 8 years (unless disabled).
b. Anyone who has not served their country in the means detailed above and has not paid tax for at least 5 years out of the last 8.
c. A retired person who never met the criteria to be able to vote.
d. A spouse on divorce, but not the death of their partner, who is not eligible in their own right.
My basic argument is that you need to earn the right to vote. You want to live on benefits as a lifestyle choice, then no voting rights.
Voting would be compulsory for those eligible. Not voting would not be a criminal offence, however if you fail to vote 2 times in succession, and you do not put up a valid reason, you lose the right to vote for a period of 2 years.
All British embassies around the world should also have a polling station, for those working or on holiday abroad. Postal voting is allowed, but must be applied for at each election, with valid reasons being given, such as planned time in a hospital as a patient, on holiday or working abroad with no British Embassy close, evidence will need to be provided. Other sensible reasons can be accepted, again subject to some form of evidence.
You have to claim the right to vote, simply by submitting an on-line form, with suitable references or evidence, such as passport details and a wage slip. Postal votes are acceptable, but only if you apply for each election, with a valid reason, such as being out of the country, or currently disabled or say a planned in-patient hospital appointment.
Application to vote may only be submitted in English or Welsh. No translation services will be provided. The minimum penalty for a deliberate false application to vote will be 3 years in prison, followed by deportation for those not registered as British. Libraries will have support people, working full time during the first 3 months of operation to ensure everyone who has no access to the internet can register. Libraries and if need be a local town hall can also provide a support service to help people register on say a 1 day a month basis after the initial registration period.
I am sure some of you will identify other people who should be able to earn the right to vote, this is fine, the principle I would stick to though is that it is for people who serve their country, or those, such as carers who save the country a lot of money.
If enough people like this idea, I will be tempted to send it to UKIP, a party who is not scared to think the unthinkable.
This article first appeared on the blog http://www.going-postal.net and is published here with kind permission from the author.