A duty not to vote

Ratio 15 (1):46–57 (2002)
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Abstract

The view that there is a duty to vote in a fair and free democracy has been a source of philosophical debate. In this paper I turn from the question of whether there is a positive duty to vote to whether there can be a duty not to vote in a ‘decent’ democratic state. Considerations of fairness and of respect for one's peers underpin an argument that a voter who is indifferent about the outcome of an election has a duty not to cast her ballot. This is not an argument against a general duty to vote, other things being equal, but points to one of the ways in which such a duty can be undermined or outweighed by competing considerations.

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Paul Sheehy
King's College London

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