Should Ignorant People Vote?

By Ben Bull
Published November 12, 2006

If despotism failed only for want of a capable, benevolent despot, what chance has democracy, which requires a whole population of capable voters?

-- George Bernard Shaw

That's the intro and the question asked by Kenneth Kid in today's Toronto Star (What Really Counts). Ken's thought provoking op-ed studies the possible reasons behind low voter turnouts and asks:

He examines several possible reasons for our apathy, and uncovers some worrying trends:

There is clearly a lot to examine on this issue. For myself, I have some sympathy for Ken's ideas. I remember feeling uneasy about jury duty and watching a documentary where a killer got off just because of one juror failed to properly understand the evidence. It's not enough to say "you must go out and vote". We need to do more to ensure that we are all properly informed and engaged, so that our vote actually counts for something.

Related article:

Ben Bull lives in downtown Toronto. He's been working on a book of short stories for about 10 years now and hopes to be finished tomorrow. He also has a movie blog.


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By adrian (registered) | Posted November 13, 2006 at 09:27:16

I presume most people who lament the "ignorance" of voters do so when those voters do not vote for their preferred candidate.

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By rusty (registered) - website | Posted November 13, 2006 at 10:43:11

Hi ‘by’

Well, there was nothing in the article, or my comments on the article, to provoke your ‘presumption’…but, now that you mention it… 

Actually, although it might be natural to presume that those of us with a different point of view to those in power, assume that everyone who supports those in power are ignorant – it’s not really true, and it’s not really that simple.

I know that some of the most educated and aware people are members of our ‘opposition’, same goes for many of those who vote for them. By the same token, it’s likely that many of the folks who vote for the people and support the ideas we put forward on this site have not taken the time to really understand the issues – it works both ways. There is more than just ignorance to account for when it comes to swaying someone’s point of view (personal values and experiences are also huge factors).

All the article – and all that I – am really saying is that voters should really make an effort to learn about the issues and the solutions before they cast a vote. I don’t actually agree that anyone who has not ‘done their homework’ should not vote, in fact, if anything I believe that voting should be mandatory, but that’s another discussion. I just think that as a society we should make more effort – in our schools, in our colleges, in our newspapers – to learn about the issues and become engaged.



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By Halton (registered) - website | Posted January 24, 2007 at 17:59:45

Check TVO tonite 8pm for Citizen's Assembly info

Burlington NDP Candidate Cory Judson Spoke last

week with Fair Vote Canada People but No COGECO ?

maybe info at http://www.coryjudson.ca

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