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A further defence of the right not to vote

A further defence of the right not to vote
A further defence of the right not to vote
Opponents of compulsory voting often allege that it violates a ‘right not to vote’. This paper seeks to clarify and defend such a right against its critics (Lardy in Oxf J Leg Stud 24:303–321, 2004; Hill in Aust J Polit Sci 50:61–72, 2015a; in Crit Rev Int Soc Polit Philos 18:652–660, 2015b). First, I propose that this right must be understood as a Hohfeldian claim against being compelled to vote, rather than as a mere privilege to abstain. So construed, the right not to vote is compatible with a duty to vote, so arguments for a duty to vote do not refute the existence of such a right. The right against compulsion is most easily defended within a liberal framework, hence its critics often appeal instead to a republican conception of freedom. In the latter part of the paper, I argue that even these republican arguments are inconclusive. Even non-dominating interference still conditions freedom, which may require justification. Further, citizens can live up to republican ideals, so long as they are vigilant; they need not actually vote. Thus, republican arguments fail to refute a right not to vote.
1356-4765
Saunders, Ben
aed7ba9f-f519-4bbf-a554-db25b684037d
Saunders, Ben
aed7ba9f-f519-4bbf-a554-db25b684037d

Saunders, Ben (2018) A further defence of the right not to vote. Res Publica. (doi:10.1007/s11158-017-9391-0).

Record type: Article

Abstract

Opponents of compulsory voting often allege that it violates a ‘right not to vote’. This paper seeks to clarify and defend such a right against its critics (Lardy in Oxf J Leg Stud 24:303–321, 2004; Hill in Aust J Polit Sci 50:61–72, 2015a; in Crit Rev Int Soc Polit Philos 18:652–660, 2015b). First, I propose that this right must be understood as a Hohfeldian claim against being compelled to vote, rather than as a mere privilege to abstain. So construed, the right not to vote is compatible with a duty to vote, so arguments for a duty to vote do not refute the existence of such a right. The right against compulsion is most easily defended within a liberal framework, hence its critics often appeal instead to a republican conception of freedom. In the latter part of the paper, I argue that even these republican arguments are inconclusive. Even non-dominating interference still conditions freedom, which may require justification. Further, citizens can live up to republican ideals, so long as they are vigilant; they need not actually vote. Thus, republican arguments fail to refute a right not to vote.

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Accepted/In Press date: 21 November 2017
e-pub ahead of print date: 11 January 2018

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 415808
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/415808
ISSN: 1356-4765
PURE UUID: 72087cd5-f9d0-46f6-a758-b78fb9c9aea1
ORCID for Ben Saunders: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-5147-6397

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Date deposited: 24 Nov 2017 17:30
Last modified: 28 Apr 2022 04:07

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