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In a Democracy All Votes Should Be Equal

One person, one vote is often a rallying cry for democracy activists. Everyone should have representation. But should everyone have equal representation? It would seem obvious that everyone should have the same say. Equality should be sacrosanct in a democracy should it not? There are however reasons why unequal votes may be necessary. The United States has unequal votes as a result of history so that all the thirteen colonies would sign up to the union each gained equal representation in the senate regardless of population. It is often politically expedient to give minorities a greater share of the vote than they would under one person one vote as a balance on dominance by the majority group. Inequality between votes may also not be built into the system but a result of the balance of parties within the system. A very few voters in first past the post systems have a disproportionate influence due to being swing voters in swing constituencies. So should democracies stick the the principle that everyone should have equal weight or compromise if for politics.

All the Yes points:

  1. Equality and Univeral Suffrage
  2. Group Equality
  3. First Past The Post

All the No points:

  1. Excluded Groups

Equality and Univeral Suffrage

Yes because…

Democracies are often held up as champions in the political arena for equality. How can, the argument goes, you be a believer in choosing your government, your representatives, and the direction of your country, and yet believe in superiority of one group over another?

Granting the vote to all citizens (universal suffrage) was considered to be a step forward in democracies, including the UK, New Zealand, America, Australia, Denmark and Finland. This was done based on the idea that as women were not so different to men as to be unable to choose their own leaders, they should also get the vote.

Therefore, the idea is that every individual is capable of making such decisions, and must have the right to do so. To state that (for example) blacks should have less votes than whites would be to perpetuate inequality on morally shady grounds.

Therefore, the proposition argues that everybody should have the right to vote in a democracy.

No because…

A standardization process: Not all voters are equal, because not everyone has an equal stake in an election. Not everyone is a follower, sometimes charismatic personalities surge a giant vote count in one direction and the vote of these people should not be made public for this reason (Obama girl springs to mind). Or if it is made public, the votes s/he influenced for a party/leader; should not be as relevant as those that are a product of informed opinion and true choice, thus.

Since all voters are not equal in their natural state, they must be equalized by administering lower/higher value to different votes.

Group Equality

Yes because…

Moving on, all votes should be equal to further this equality. Giving doctors twice as many votes as lawyers simply gives doctors more power in the system than lawyers. Therefore, doctors would be considered superior to lawyers in the political process.

Once again, this goes against the tenets of democracy. Equality for all is part of the consideration of a democracy. This is simply not achievable when certain groups have more or less political power than others.

No because…

Lawyers are experts at wielding public opinion, while doctors are bound by the Hippocratic oath to safeguard public interests. Morally a doctor’s word/vote/opinion should therefore, be valued more than a lawyer’s.

First Past The Post

Yes because…

Under a first past the post system, one vote for one voice is the most obvious fom of democratic voting as there are no weighting systems either in place or necessary as used in the United States’ electoral college. If a certain number of people get a representative, then every one of those people should have an equal say in who that representative is. In a simple majority system of one vote = one person, the outcome is easy to conclude and scrutinise for fairness and election rigging. Therefore one voe = one voice is also a very practical way to run a democracy.

No because…

Unfortunately in FPTP systems this is not the case. The election is decided by only a few seats that happen to be marginal. Peoples votes in those seats are worth much more than a vote in a completely safe seat where it is essentially wasted.

Excluded Groups

No because…

Certain groups are excluded from the democratic process – most notably prisoners in many countries. Obviously, the practice is that some votes are not worth the same as other votes – and yet the system still works. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Yes because…

Firstly, prisoners are excluded from the vote. This means that the VOTER is considered less equal, not the vote itself.

Secondly, prisoners are excluded because they have broken the law. Similarly, children are excluded because they are too join. The proposition accepts that there are certain reasons to reasonably exclude someone from the voting process – breaking laws is arguably one of these reasons.

Thirdly, whether it is practised or not does not make it the correct action. Torture is practiced in many countries, but is still considered to be immoral.

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Andy Bowman
4 years ago

No, a vote should have a weight based on someone’s contributions to their community, and society as a whole. If one has done good things, their vote should be more important than that of a selfish person who does not contribute in a positive way.