Masthead graphic based on a painting by Gudrun Thriemer.

Saturday, May 31, 2008

"Global voter participation falls," PoliticsOnline, May 30, 2008.

PoliticsOnline sends this "Stat of the Week" (May 30, 2008):

"Global voter turnout has fallen by almost 10% in the past decade. What affect will the Internet have on future voter turnout? BBC's World Have Your Say first asked this question in their blogpost, Can the Internet Make Democracy Work Better? Since it was posted on May 16, the blog has received many insightful comments on democracy and the Internet ranging from books on 'Netizens' to how we can defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan using the Net."

[Voter participation rates are commonly viewed as indicators of "voter apathy" or "taking democracy for granted." However, as early as the Kennedy-Nixon election, anarchist Paul Goodman proposed that when the choice is between one type of rat poison and another, the best option may be to refuse to vote. In Canada, the satirical Rhino party embraced the slogan, "Don't Vote. It only encourages them."

In a more serious vein, Gordon Campbell's effort to have a multiple choice referendum on the values that should be used in negotiating treaties with BC's indigenous peoples backfired when voters returned their ballots unmarked to local First Nations representatives.

Among some aboriginal sovereigntists, enfranchisement in general, and elected band councils in particular, are seen with good reason as having been forced on indigenous peoples, presumably as compensation for repudiating their own culture and political systems.

Some advocates of reformed democracy propose that, instead of mandatory voting, a "None of the above" option be routinely added to the ballot. -jlt
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