Why Not a $25 Fine for Not Voting?

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by DoctorJones24, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    As poltical apathy and ignorance contiue to spread in America, giving us truly one of the least effective working democracies on the planet, I'm always interested in ideas to turn the tide. I haven't seen this one prosposed anywhere before.

    We should institute a $25 penalty for each 18+ year-old American citizen who chooses not to vote every year.

    Why not?
    1) "Not voting" is a matter of personal choice. I disagree. Voting should be seen as a more important RESPONSIBILITY of democratic citizens than either military service or jury juty, both of which we require of people in certain circumstances.
    2) Too tough to enforce. Not really. We just turn over the names to the DMV, and the fine gets handled like a traffic ticket. Failure to pay will lead to license suspension.
    3) Mitigating circumstances, such as medical emergency, work, etc. No problem: we excuse people from jury duty for such things, so a doctor's note will work here.
    4) Toughest on the poor, who are also the least likely to vote. True and true, but "positive reinforcement" to get these same people to vote (and thus help themselves) has not been working.

    Other potential criticisms? Other ideas?
    By the way, this could be incorporated with new ideas to make voting easier using new technologies.

    Easy + mandatory = renewed democracy.
  2. obie

    obie New Member

    Nov 18, 1998
    NY, NY
    New York Red Bulls
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    The freedom to not vote is just as important as the freedom to vote. No fines.
  3. spejic

    spejic Cautionary example

    Mar 1, 1999
    San Rafael, CA
    San Jose Earthquakes
    Impose the fine, but add "None of the above" to all the ballot entries.
  4. Dan Loney

    Dan Loney BigSoccer Supporter

    Mar 10, 2000
    Los Angeles Sol
    Nat'l Team:
    Just "none of the above" will work, although the major parties would sooner vote themselves into Soylent Green than pass such a thing.

    I realize this is a very conservative view for me to hold, but low turnout doesn't bother me. Bad enough that I have to cancel out some John Birching redneck every time I go to the corner church every couple of years. Someone who by definition can't be bothered to form opinions on the issues shouldn't be forced to go in and pull levers at random. That doesn't help anyone.
  5. metrocorazon

    metrocorazon Member

    May 14, 2000
    WHat is this? Brewsters Millions?
  6. eric d

    eric d Member

    Sep 9, 1998
    Monty Brewster for President!

  7. Garcia

    Garcia Member

    Dec 14, 1999
    Castro Castro
    I still can't believe Gene Wilder wasn't in that movie, too.
  8. eric d

    eric d Member

    Sep 9, 1998

    John Candy is a tad more believable as a catcher than Gene Wilder.
  9. Foosinho

    Foosinho New Member

    Jan 11, 1999
    New Albany, OH
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    This is what I would choose to impose as well.

    However, I'm not sure that people who currently don't vote would be wise enough to recognize the fact that they aren't informed on any particular subject/election, and won't choose the "abstain" option. And who knows what kind of mess that would cause...
  10. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    I disagree that we are free to not vote. Not voting IS a vote. It's a vote FOR facism. Ballots already have Write In sections...go in and vote for your favorite teacher, your boss, your band leader, but just get in there.

    One problem with much liberal thought is that freedom is so often considered a "negative" value, as in "to not vote," or freedom "from persecution," etc. But Democracy as a system is based on denying at least that freedom. It pretty clearly puts a "responsibility" on the populace.

    People who live here and enjoy all the benefits of the richest and freest country on earth should not have the "choice" to participate or not. It's simple:

    You come here, we have democracy: Vote.
    If you don't like voting, you are free to emigrate to Saudi Arabia or the like.

    Dan, you're right the Republicrats would never go for this. Actually, the Democrats are fools not to push it, as the ranks of minorities and working class people who do not vote way outnumber the white male CEOs left currently left out of the political process. Basically, of the more than half of American citizens who "choose" not to vote, how many probably lean towards the Left? 80%?

    Anyway, in regards to your worry about the uninformed/unmotivated. I would couple this with a revised "Civics" curriculum in Middle and High schools. Every Social Studies class in America should be AT the polls every year in November. National field trip day. There should also be frequent field trips to town council meetings, and much more engagement with contemporary and local political issues. Basically, or current flawed system imparts two things: some "check and balances BS from an old piece of paper," and "famous dudes who did stuff a long time ago." The idea that on their 18th birthday they immediately "JOIN" the government as an active voting member is totally lost on our youth. Most people think of the government as something separate from "us." We only need pick the people every four years, and then it becomes "their" responsibilty.
  11. SoFla Metro

    SoFla Metro Member

    Jul 21, 2000
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    Forcing people to vote (which is de facto what you're suggesting) would never work, and would almost certainly be unconstitutional.
  12. SoFla Metro

    SoFla Metro Member

    Jul 21, 2000
    Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    Please point out the part in the Constitution that mandates that all people vote.

    Forcing people to vote is Fascism.
  13. Dante

    Dante Moderator
    Staff Member

    Nov 19, 1998
    Upstate NY
    Juventus FC
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    I believe that write in ballots are the best form of protest against a candidate. In my area often times a lot of local seats go uncontested. Seeing as in how a lot of the local politicians are crap and have no one else running against them I tend to do the write in.

    One year I wrote in Papa Smurf, Rutherford B Hayes and John Q Public. What's funny was that Papa Smurf received 3 votes in a local election. There was a local editorial were they blasted people who do something childish like that, but I disagree. It goes to show that there are people who would rather have cartoon characters in charge than the idiots we have now.

    My take on voting is this... don't complain about an elected official if you didn't take the time to vote.
  14. dcaddick

    dcaddick New Member

    Jul 10, 2001
    On the Bandwagon
    Voting does not cure apathy or ignorance.

    I'm curious, are there more effective working democracies out there?

    This being a democracy, least effective that it might be, still is rooted in choice. Choose to work, or not to work. Choose where to live, how to live. Choose to learn, or not to learn.

    Penalizing someone over their choice to not to express an opinion (which is what voting is), goes against what a working democracy is, and therefore, with your reasoning, would create an even lesser effective democracy.

    Remember, an effective democracy protects the minority, even if that minority chooses to not be heard.
  15. joseph pakovits

    joseph pakovits New Member

    Apr 29, 1999
    fly-over country
    Re: Re: Why Not a $25 Fine for Not Voting?

    Even if the minority is the majority.

    While democracy is far more than merely hauling your sorry ass to a voting both once every few years, a people that does not at least exercise it's right to "choose" between two corporate-approved candidates owned largely by the same people will deserve it when even that choice is inevitably taken away from them.
  16. dfb547490

    dfb547490 New Member

    Feb 9, 2000
    The Heights
    I disagree, people who don't care enough to go vote probably don't care enough to learn about the issues, how is someone who is uninformed and just walks into a booth and randomly flips switches a good thing?

    Not voting is NOT a "vote for Fascism", but even if it was, we are fully within our rights, should we choose to do so, to vote for Fascism. I don't know if there's an American Fascist Party or not, but there is an American Nazi Party and there are several American Communist Parties, and we are within our rights to vote for those.

    Finally, if someone can just go in and formally abstain from voting, what the hell is the purpose in having them go in?? Why should someone be forced to take the time out of their day to go flip a switch that says "Abstain"?? I voted for the first time in the spring and, despite the fact that there were several races, I only voted in one (to re-nominate Curt Weldon for the GOP Congressional primary). The ones I didn't vote in were the Gubernatorial primaries (even tho I'm not a Republican, I registered as one because in PA you can't vote in primaries if you're not registered for the party; the GOP candidate for Governor ran unopposed in the primary so it doesn't matter; ironically, I'll probably vote for Ed Rendell in November and would definitely have voted for Bob Casey if he'd gotten the Democratic nomination), and a bunch of podunk local elections with people with their heads up land development asses mostly running unopposed. I didn't vote in any of those, does that make me a bad American?? Should I be fined $25 for each race I didn't vote in??

  17. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    To the objection that it would be unconstitutional. How is it any different than forcing people to serve as jury members or in the military in times of selective service? Please explain. You are confusing "democracy" with "anarchy."

    To the objection that "not voting" is a personal choice, is a vote, etc. Wrong. What message is sent? Who is listening to that message? Answers: none and noone. Anyone who thinks they are "sending a message" by not voting is either stupid or just trying to rationalize their own laziness. In either case, I'd like them to be forced out of my democratic country. Remember the old, "love it leave it" crap conservatives used to say to protesters? In this context, it could be revised to actualy make sense. "America: Vote or get out."
  18. el_urchinio

    el_urchinio Member

    Jun 6, 2002
    Brilliant idea. So much of everyone's money is already wasted on this chicanery called elections, lets waste some more money setting up the beaurocratic machinery to force people to vote and/or fine them if they refuse to. Cunning plan. BlackAdder would be proud.
  19. CrewDust

    CrewDust Member

    May 6, 1999
    Columbus, Ohio
    Columbus Crew
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    While I think all people should vote there are certain local elections where people don't vote because either they don't care or don't know about the issues. Election of judges is a good example. I follow politics but have never heard of half of the judges running. And I don't have strong enough ties to either party just to vote on the party line. By the way it is against the law NOT to vote in Australia. But that doesn't stop Aussies from bitching about their government.
  20. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    Seriously? That absolutely rocks!
    At least when they bitch, they aren't being hypocrites.

    By the way, if "not voting" is a message, then I'd assume it would have to mean someone is pretty upset and disilluisioned with not just the players, but our very form of government. And less than half of the eligible voters in America actually vote, then I'd say we need a new Constitutional Convention to write up some new rules. Can we rejoin the British Empire?
  21. jamison

    jamison Member

    Sep 25, 2000
    Thing is, imagine this happens. Dead people would be getting fines, and peole who voted would get fined by accident. Are you going to have a federal election appeals court to handle the exemptions? My sister's drivers license says she's 60 something because of a government typo. If you assume 1 error in 100, I don't want to be one of the 3 million people who gets hosed by accident. Not to mention, all 3 million of us will have to wait in line to be groaned at by some morbidly obese civil servant with a ridiculous attitude about how I ruined her life by making her do her job that day. Plus, I'll have to do it three times because she'll say I don't have the right form anyway.

    I think everyone should vote, but forcing everyone to vote isn't democracy. How do you know that everyone won't just choose the lever closest to them, electing the All-American Aardvark Association candidate because they were first in alphabetical order?

    I agree with alex.

    To me, not voting is a vote for the status quo. I think democracies were intended to allow a small section of the population to vote to let an even smaller segment of the population run the government by representing them. Are you forcing kids to vote too? What is the difference between a normal 15 year old and a 30 year old with mental disabilities and a 68 IQ living in a government hospital (besides the fact that they ironically dress the same)? You are going to force one to vote and not the other? Whose opinion do you trust more?

    Should more people vote? Yes. Should we fine them into voting? No. Enough people who actually care will vote. And even if they don't they are being represented the exact way they want to be anyway. If they weren't they'd have voted to change things.
  22. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    You're right, it's a crappy idea. ;)

    Actually, I originally posted it as a far-fetched idea, but the more I've thought about it, the less far-fetched it sounds. I figured someone would have come up with a more logical reason against it by now, but noone has even tackled yet WHY it would be different from jury duty? Anyway, what's up with Australia? Does anyone know how that law works? And are there other democracies that enforce voting?

    And where are the other outlandish ideas to fix our republic? Are people truly happy with the current military-industrial complex? We like oligarchy?

    My other idea, which I think we discussed a while back, was to have most (all?) government positions filled simply by lottery. Kind of an "It's your turn to govern," type of thing. We'd need some type of IQ/civics test for potentials, for sure. Now that would be representative democracy--not really a republic anymore, though.

    "Facism should be more appropriately called Corporatism because it is a merger of State and Corporate power."
    -Benito Mussolini
  23. dawgpound2

    dawgpound2 Member

    Mar 3, 2001
    Los Angeles, CA
    This is the beauty of a republic. Whether 200 million vote or 2 vote, we then have fair representation. Those who vote are given the privilege and responsibility to pick our representation. Everyone who qualifies legally has the chance to cast their vote.

    If someone studies the issues and candidates, and is informed, and then chooses to not vote, I accept that. If someone is lazy, and a sloth, I don't accept that.
  24. DoctorJones24

    DoctorJones24 Member

    Aug 26, 1999
    Except in Florida...
  25. dfb547490

    dfb547490 New Member

    Feb 9, 2000
    The Heights
    It's different for two reasons: first, people who are unfit to be jurors (whether in general or for the particular case they are selected for) are weeded out. Second, it is possible to enforce a few thousand people a day to go on jury duty, it is not possible to enforce 200 million people (wild guess at the number of people over the age of 18 in the US) to vote on a single day.

    If you don't vote, the dingo eats your baby.

    Who says it's broken?? I mean, there's definitely a lot of things I'd change (the abortion laws being number one among them) but by and large, who says our system needs a massive overhall?

    There would be 2 ways to do this, both of which would be disastrous. You suggested having a civics test, if this happened who would make up the test?? They would certainly skew it to make it hard for anyone who doesn't share their political beliefs to come into office. You could do it without the test, but I don't really want President Billy Bob from Alabama nuking "them damn Yankees" and banning soccer, do you?


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