Have at you!

Facebookposium: More voters? Or more sophisticated voters? (And much, much more)

[Note: The following is a summary of an impromptu Facebook symposium debating, among other things, the relative merits of mandatory voting and the need for “better citizens” in Canadian democracy. My friend and fellow UBC graduate student Edana Beauvais pulled it together on the basis of contributions from various students in the department. It’s all pretty self-explanatory, and at times quite heated! It’s also pretty long, so consider yourself warned.

The debate, I’m pleased to say, continues to percolate. For those who followed the original discussion on Facebook, I am pleased to announce that there is NEW, PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED MATERIAL in the form of closing statements from a couple of the participants near the bottom below. Other contributors have promised to contribute additional contributions in the near future; I will post them, or links to them here. I intend to weigh in with some final thoughts of my own at some point. Others who would like to contribute in whatever form are welcome to do so. Happy reading!—SP]

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Op-ed: Canada needs to incentivize voting

[Update: the National Post link to this article no longer seems to work. I’ve posted the full text below.]

About a week ago, my friend and colleague David Moscrop wrote an intriguing op-ed in the National Post arguing that the biggest problem facing Canadian democracy is not low turnout, but unreflective voters. Among other things, it is a critique of the idea of mandatory voting. His full argument is here.

While certainly supportive of the idea that we need Canadians more engaged in politics, I nonetheless find the basic goal of increased turnout by various mechanisms, including mandatory or otherwise incentivized voting, to be convincing. At the same time, I found problematic David’s idea that increased turnout without additional reflection can actually be counter-democratic.  Eventually, I wrote my own op-ed:

Incentivize voting

photo credit: JosephGilbert.org via photopin cc