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Stephen Smith

Declining to exercise a right is not a rejection of that right, any more than heterosexual males declining to engage in gay sex is a rejection of Lawrence v. Texas.

Max Power

And, like many religions before it, the institution of democracy has been corrupted from the inside, keeping only its rites, so that the masses are placated with the illusion of choice while the powerful loot them.

Simon Russell

I think it's best to view it as a responsibility as well as a right. But I guess I'm talking from the point of view of a citizen of a country with compulsory voting (which I agree with) and an efficient voting system.

If you don't vote, it's not a protest; it's just opting out. Nobody cares that you opted out, because somebody will get voted in either way.

If you're interested in public transport, you should be interested in voting.


I would say all people should cast a ballot, even if it's a blank ballot. It proves that you're not being lazy or apathetic, but that you're outright rejecting the system.


I voted and I am grateful for the privilege and responsibility to have done so.
Thank you for the encouragement.

A Concerned Global Citizen

I have been a long time reader of this blog and have enjoyed many posts with great interest. However, I am both greatly disappointed and offended by the political sentiment of this post. While I agree it is important that people are free to exercise their democratic rights, I strongly believe that choosing not to vote is a legitimate option and can be an effective form of protest. There are many reasons why well informed members of the electorate may choose not to vote, including to express dissatisfaction with the candidates available or the electoral system itself. While it is also acceptable to encourage others to vote, you should not do so in a way that vilifies those who exercise their democratic right by deciding not to vote. Voting by coercion is not democracy and is contrary to freedom.

Andrew in Ezo

What is absurd is that, in the Anglophone world, public transport is hyper politicized, when it should be a largely apolitical issue, like building sewers.

Ted Re

This year's winner got 58 million votes out of a population of 312 million. So 252 million didn't vote for the president. Ie 81% either don't want their president, couldn't care less, or as per the above comments, think that the system is a joke. It was a typical election.

Having said that, the result is great for PT over there.

If you voted for the winner, then you are a very powerful person, especially compared with the other 4 billion who this decision affects.

Adam Nowek

I echo the disappointment of others in the comments. Stephen Smith summed it up nicely above.


@Andrew in Ezo, planning decisions are a lot more shades of gray than simply "what do the engineers think we should do?"


Oh and I agree with the tongue and cheek restriction on complaining if you did not vote, why should I have to listen to someone who is unhappy with the impacts of the election if they declined to participate? If they want to complain they should have participated.....it has been the main reason I have voted several times now as I have frequently been less than impressed with my choice of candidates....


Oops seems my first post did not make it. I think it is peoples responsibility to vote, if they feel they can't vote because of their views on the system or candidates a spoiled ballot makes a much bigger statement than not voting. Not voting only says I don't care or am too lazy to vote. So I have no sympathy for those who claim they are not voting to protest the system or candidates or whatever.

Robert Wightman

As a 66 year old Canadian who has never spent more than 3 minutes in a voting line I cannot fathom how it is possible for the number 1 economy in the world to require people to line up for 5 - 6 hours to vote. I could not help but notice that the areas in Florida that voted republican had 100% of their vote in and counted within 2 hours of the poles' closing while democratic counties were still voting 4 hours after the poles closed. To an outsider this seems like a political fix.

IN 2000 Canada had a federal election 2 weeks after the US but knew the results of the election 2 weeks before the US. Voting isn't rocket science, it is just a matter of deciding that you are going to do it in a fair and efficient manner. I won't get into the electoral college but to an outsider it seems strange that you can win the popular vote and lose the election, but it is also possible in Canada. Good luck for the next 4 years.

Morgan Wick

@Ted Re Or are ineligible to vote for some reason.


Andrew, sewers are politicized too, with some right-wingers being in favor of privatized sewers, and claiming that dumping untreated waste in the ocean really isn't so bad. In fact, they've always been a political issue.

An issue of sanity vs. ignorance, but a political issue nonetheless.

Lucre in DC

I insist that there's such a thing as a responsible nonvoter who refuses to vote not out of apathy or frustration with the system, but simply because they feel that their own understanding of the options is so incomplete that it would be irresponsible to cast a ballot. I don't think that this in any way shows contempt for the blood shed by those who struggled for suffrage. What was struggled for was the right, not the obligation to vote: of those two the latter smacks of a more oppressive state than the former. Choosing not to do so is no more a rejection of your democratic rights than choosing not to practice a religion is a rejection of your first amendment right to practice the religion of your choice.

I voted, but had I chosen not to, my "right" to complain about anything on this blog in the future would be limited by Jarrett, and not by anything directly relevant to that choice.


I find it fascinating that those, like me, who are actually required to "vote" are the most passionate about preserving the compulsion. I have not heard the argument that failing to "vote" is excusable.


1. The compulsion is not to vote, but to turn up. So an informal vote, as we call it, is acceptable. Cop out it might be, but a choice one may exercise nevertheless.

2. More importantly, the compulsion brings with it an obligation on the administration to administer the system efficiently. In Australia, we give triennial thanks (strictly more frequently when you include state and local government elections) for the quiet efficiency of the Australian Electoral Commission. A delay for more than 20 minutes is unknown in my experience. If it costs more to encourage very substantial compliance with the civic obligation to attend to vote, it is worth every penny. Having elections on Saturdays and usually in summer helps.

Far fewer elected positions and preferential voting helps too so one can express greater subtlety in the messages the governed send to the governors. Not to mention the greater stake the population has in the way it is governed.

This leads to the view not that the government is THE problem as Ronald Regan has convinced US citizens, but that we expect the government to deliver the solutions and will resource it and keep complaining till it does. Hence the small deficits and low government debt.

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the firm

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