Ten reasons why I didn't cast a vote

Elections4

A response to “Ten reasons why you should cast a vote”

On September 17 The Press ran an article by Philip Matthew titled "Ten reasons why you should cast a vote". The following is ten reasons why I didn't.

1. Representation
Is accurate representation possible? If I am present why re-present? Speaking for those who can speak for themselves seems to me the antithesis of democracy. As the Vote Compass feature on the TVNZ website illustrated, it is easy for people to indicate their personal preferences on current issues without submitting to representation or party ideologies.

Thomas Jefferson said “I never submitted the whole of my opinions to the creed of any party of men whatsoever in religion, in philosophy, in politics, or in anything else where I was capable of thinking for myself. Such an addiction is the final degradation of a free and moral agent.”

2. Unaccountability
Members of Parliament remain unaccountable to the people of New Zealand. All members must swear an Oath of Allegiance to persons other than those they claim to represent - those who actually voted for them.(2)

3. Socio-economic dictatorship with free elections
Voting limits democratic input to narrow policy choices once every few years and then reduces the public to spectators of political process. People cannot elect the true Head of State and the Governor General retains reserve powers to block a popular democratic result or dissolve Parliament. This has happened in Australia and Canada. There is the sticky issue that the Prime Minister cannot take office without the blessing of the Governor General nor the Governor General without the blessing of the Prime Minister which leads directly to my next concern: (3)(4)

4. No constitutional safeguards
Governments have admitted the Crown and the Government to be the same entity since 1947. Even former Governor-General Sir Paul Reeves was surprised to discover the Government and Crown are one."You end up with the Government saying 'We are the Crown'," says Sir Paul Reeves, "and that's a very interesting development, I think ... how did that happen?"(5)

5. Kate Sheppard
Although women were eventually 'granted the privilege' to vote, the Crown continues to control who can and can't. People who may want to vote but are prohibited from doing so include prisoners, citizens who are abroad for too long, and youth. (6)(7)

6. Human Rights
The New Zealand Government does not respect human rights by placing the Bill of Rights as subservient legislation thereby allowing for creative interpretations, omitting human rights in domestic legislation, and failing to ratify further international human rights conventions.(8)(9)(10)

7. Oppression of minorities
Majority is often misused as a synonym for the largest minority. The divisive nature of voting ensures a means of force to compel a minority to comply with any unfair decisions.

8. If you vote you can't complain
The act of voting itself is a form of forfeiture. Yielding one's power carte blanche to strangers is irresponsible and may de-legitimise complaints. Voting seems to reinforce and re-affirm current systems, legitimising state power no matter how one votes.

9. Because the issues matter
Citizens have little or no input into policy issues for electoral debate and often end up distracted from issues of real importance.

10. Every vote counts (for everyone else)
Votes that count include the people I heard basing their selections on such reasoning as “my parents voted for ... party”, “I have always voted for ... party”, or “strong leadership”. Unfortunately one person one vote also doesn't cater for strength of individual preference. Two casual assenters trump one dire opposition and this offers little opportunity to break from the status quo.

(1) http://www.stuff.co.nz/the-press/news/10522833/Ten-reasons-why-you-should-cast-a-vote
(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oath_of_Allegiance_%28New_Zealand%29
(3)http://www.theguardian.com/world/1975/nov/12/australia
(4) http://www.theguardian.com/world/2008/dec/04/stephen-harper-canada-prime-minister
(5) http://www.investigatemagazine.com/july00cons.htm
(6) http://nzhumanrightsblog.com/newzealand/denying-voting-rights-to-prisoners-in-new-zealand-what-was-parliament-thinking/
(7) http://younglabour.org.nz/the-rights-based-argument
(8) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Zealand_Bill_of_Rights_Act_1990
(9)http://www.hrc2001.org.nz/nzmso.htm
(10) http://www.hrc.co.nz/report/summary/summary02.html

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