Why not voting regarded as a duty instead of Right?

December 24, 2009 at 11:28 PM 2 comments

As a student of political science, I knew that some democratic countries like Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Chile and Singapore had made voting as a compulsory duty for all its citizens. This system existed in the world as early as 1777 in the US state of Georgia.

The recent controversy lead by the Gujarat assembly passing a bill on compulsory voting December 19th 2009 managed to tickle my political thinking. 

A very famous quote by John F Kennedy addresses democracy as “OF THE PEOPLE”. It means that the democracy can be constructive only with the participation of its people. 

Most interesting argument against compulsory voting is that: “Why any person not interested in politics should cast in a ballot? However the arguement seems to be very narrow in its approach.  Say for instance a person is not interested in economics, so can he claim exemption from paying tax?  Then why claim excemption from voting for lack of interest in politics.

Electing a representative does not seems to be a favor for the society. It is a simple process of nation building from which exemption should not be sought by the people nor must not be entertained by the law.

Moreover by making voting a voluntary process the law does not guarantee the equal participation from its citizens, in executing their adult franchise. The law on its part is aptly adequate even to meet demands of those people who chose not to vote any candidate by introducing Section 49O.

Section 49O gives an option to the people to declare that they do not consider any candidate worthy of receiving their vote. The practice of section 49O also prohibits the practice of bogus voting or proxy voting.

If democracy is expected to serve the people in a systematic way, then why cant its citizens be expected to act responsibly towards it? Being one of the firm believers in the principles of democracy I would rather regard “Voting” as a duty than a right.

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2 Comments Add your own

  • 1. RR  |  December 24, 2009 at 11:44 PM

    Well written. Should voting be compulsory? That’s a question raised by one of the staunchest opponents of democracy in Gujarat. May be a ploy to get majority again! And what if it boomerangs?
    I could not agree with you more in saying voting is a duty, not just a right.

  • 2. Parvinder singh  |  December 25, 2009 at 12:04 PM

    I think voting is a expression to express oneself in public without any threat or being scared of the consequences. And such power is given only in democratically formed state. The first thing i did after crossing 18 was that i voted. NICE ONE!..

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