One of the options to make a vote’s weight assigned more justly and equally is ‘A political quiz’. There are a number of such ideas but the simplest one is perhaps the system proposed by Stefan Hansen . This system seems to preserve both the voting equality, as well as fairness. It could be easily implemented but could not be applied in an on-line voting. Without going into too much the detail, here is how it could work.
- On the election day a voter goes to the polling station
- Voting is mandatory
- He casts his vote using a digital terminal. But before he selects his candidate, he must answer 10 randomly selected questions out of 500 on the country’s system of governance and current economic or political problems that the country is facing. Only then can he press the button.
- If he answers all questions correctly, his vote’s weight is 100%. But if he answers only 4 of them, then the weight of his vote is reduced to 40%.
- The questions would have been prepared earlier by an independent body and approved by the parliamentary committee, which would be composed of MPs in the same proportion as the proportion of the votes cast for their parties in the previous election.
The benefits of this system are quite obvious, such as:
- There is no discrimination against anyone. Everyone’s vote is equal
- The voting age might be lowered even to 14. If that is supported by an extended programme in all schools on how the country is governed and what are the main current problems the country is currently facing, then it would have increased the teenager’s motivation to learn, and later on, be more actively involved in the country’s social, economic and political matters
- The impact of the voting adults who have no interest, or hardly any knowledge, on how the country is governed, will be minimized. That would result in a more rational and effective government
- It would significantly reduce the impact of populism since the fake news would simply lead to wrong answers at the polling station.
There are at least two objections that one might raise. First of all, such a system could not work well in an on-line voting since people could find the answers on the Internet. That is true, but this could be counterbalanced by lowering the weight of votes given online.
The second objection might be that people will have no other realistic option than go to the polling station. Additionally, the voting could take 10 or more minutes. If this is the case, voters may not bother to vote.
To that I would say that the voting could be extended to 2 or 3 days, or there would have to be many more polling stations. Moreover, this is simply a minimum duty a citizen should do for his country and that is why the voting should be made mandatory.
I am a strong supporter of mandatory voting. The objections against the mandatory voting are another example of how we have mixed up the concept of rights and obligations. We do not have an absolute, unconstrained freedom that is given to us free of charge – protecting our freedoms costs a lot of money. The same goes for rights. The protection of your right to free education, free emergency health care etc. costs. Yes, it is covered from our taxes, but a society is not just a shop where the relationships among the participants are only about the price and quality. They are much more about things that make us human. For example, in some countries, it is a criminal offence not to help somebody who is in need e.g. has a heart attack on the street. With rights come obligations.