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Should being informed on at least a basic level be a prerequisite to voting? watch

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    Trying not to make this specific to any election in particular.

    I was of the opinion that everyone's opinion was valid and all are entitled to their vote, especially when you consider some battles that have been waged to safeguard our votes and uphold democracy.

    I challenged my own opinion after discussing upcoming elections with numerous people. I do not have a problem with someone disagreeing with my opinion, in fact if it was not for people challenging opinions, I have little doubt that society would have not evolved to where it is at now.

    The problem I have is that when discussing some issues on upcoming elections, there are a group of people who have no idea what is actually going on and state their position based on criteria which are complete falsehoods which trivial amounts of research would highlight.

    As a result a section of society however big or small are voting and shaping the future direction of the country based on complete falsehoods. I will give a ridiculous example to illustrate the point.

    Person 1: So who are you voting for in the next UK general election?

    Person 2: I am definitely voting conservative! The main reason being I feel that Margaret Thatcher is doing a brilliant job as president of the UK!

    Person 1: You do realise Margaret Thatcher is not the current leader of the UK and we do not have a 'president'?

    Person 2: Oh?

    ^Should person 2 be allowed to vote?

    Does this turn the voting system into a slightly improved version of bingo and ultimately hamper democracy and social evolution?

    I am not necessarily pushing one side or the other (although I am leaning toward the opinion that a basic test requiring you to name a few parties, who the current leader is etc), I would just be very interested to hear peoples opinions on this.

    Apologies if there have been recent similar threads, I looked through the first page of threads and could not find a similar topic.
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    - So who are you voting for
    - Labour
    - Why?
    - My grandad always voted labour. He said it was the party to vote for.




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    We should focus on getting people more informed.
    It's difficult to determine who is 'informed enough' to vote and a system that tries to do that is too easily abused.

    In the end, people who are that clueless about current affairs are unlikely to vote anyway.
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    But what would be the criteria to show that someone is informed?
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    (Original post by SpikeyTeeth)
    - So who are you voting for
    - Labour
    - Why?
    - My grandad always voted labour. He said it was the party to vote for.




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    Yep this happens a lot. I've noticed a lot of people vote for a certain party because of family connections.

    Also, did you actually talk to someone who thought Thatcher was still alive, let alone still in charge OP?
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    No, but comprehension of our political system should be held to the same importance as maths and english in our education system.
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    (Original post by zKlown)
    Yep this happens a lot. I've noticed a lot of people vote for a certain party because of family connections.

    Also, did you actually talk to someone who thought Thatcher was still alive, let alone still in charge OP?
    Ha no The conversations I have had have been comparable in absurdity though. I refrained from giving them as examples though as it would be obvious which elections I was talking about and risk sending the thread off in a tangent.
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    I expect that would probably push turnout below 10%. Most voters haven't got a clue what they're doing and vote based on whatever a newspaper has misled them into thinking, or for stupid/petty/irrational/ill-informed reasons.

    "I'm not voting for him because he can't eat a bacon sandwich"

    "I'm not posh so I can't vote Conservative"

    I'd be amazed if anyone knew what the Liberal Democrats actually want.

    Whilst a voting test would be nice (as would a parenting test, while the subject is raised), I don't think it's remotely possible to conduct one in a cost-effective, unbiased and fully relevant manner. For example, does it really matter if someone doesn't know the leader of the opposition's name? I don't know the Green Party leader's name but I'm still well-informed about their general policies. Does it matter if someone doesn't know whether we have a president or prime minister? What matters in politics (and voting, in particular) is the manifesto you're voting for, not names and titles. And testing peoples' knowledge of manifestos is probably harder than it sounds.

    This test often throws up some entertaining results, even for people who think they're well-informed about politics.
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    Define 'informed', then define how informed we should be.

    Someone may be extremely informed and on-the-ball on, say, education reform, so they have the right to vote, right?

    What if they are extremely ill-informed on immigration and believe all the scare stories?

    Problem is, I've just described everybody in existence. Nobody is fully informed on everything and everyone has a field of expertise or interest in something that relates to politics (well, almost everybody).

    Moreover, for many, what defines 'informed' depends on what paper you read. You may have two extremely informed people with entirely conflicting views on the same policy field, but insisting the other is a completely ignorant moron.

    It's a minefield, you either disenfranchise everyone or disenfranchise no-one.
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    No, we obviously shouldn't stop anyone from voting. Aside from the freedoms that have been thought for, being informed is not something easily proved, and it would create far more problems than it would solve.

    But we certainly need to make political education far more of a priority in schools. We should be ashamed of the way things currently are in this respect.
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    If they are registered and can get to the polling station on the right day then they must be informed to a degree.

    The problem with them being informed is who is doing the informing and what is being informed. How is the voter who wants Cameron as PM better than the one who wants Thatchers as President? Neither of them have shown any understanding of policy which is actually what matters. You would need to inform them on the basic outlines of party policy and current pledges. You would need this to be impartial, even the BBC aren't impartial so there would most likely be a bias in the system.

    I think schools should educate kids better in how the political system in this country works, and leave it at that. Politics is a bit of a habit, once you pick it up and start voting, unless you're abstaining, I don't think people tend to put it down. If we can get kids to get passionate and start voting younger, the process of informing themselves and representing their demographic will happen on its own.
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    Interesting points and I agree with many of the concerns.

    I wholeheartedly agree that better education in the area would be of benefit.

    I feel strongly that getting people from all backgrounds and classes engaged politically is of great importance and 'a test' may fly in the face of this line. I do however still feel that there are a significant amount of people who may feel it is their duty to vote but really do not understand what is going on and that this can only hamper democratic evolution. The benefits of such a system may however outweigh the negatives.
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    not officially, e.g. to pass a test, probably a test that the state itself will create, probably for its own benefit, e.g. putting in particular questions which have relative answers that only those with certain views will answer favourably. I think the most important change in the education system I support is replacing RE/RPSE with politics (or just "philosophy", e.g. to include *both* religion and politics) - until people actually study politics to some degree, they won't nearly be as informed as they otherwise would be
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    Not sure. On the one hand not everybody's opinion is of equal validity, but on the other hand I am not sure I like the idea of giving the government the ability to decide whose opinion is valid.
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    (Original post by lucaf)
    Not sure. On the one hand not everybody's opinion is of equal validity, but on the other hand I am not sure I like the idea of giving the government the ability to decide whose opinion is valid.
    Someone else mentioned this, there could quite easily be controls in place to deal with this. For example an independent panel with a variety of views from a variety of backgrounds and of varying political persuasion could set the criteria.
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    It would be impossible to impose that kind of restriction to an election. And undemocratic as well.

    I do think it would be a good idea to focus on education though. Schools should teach pupils about how our government works - things like how parliament works, the relationship between parliament and the monarchy, how the voting system works in elections, etc. That way most people will leave school with at least a basic understanding of politics.
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    People shouldn't be allowed to vote unless they can show themselves to understand the things the government think it important they understand?

    No opportunity for abuse there at all.

    No one has a monopoly on what is or is not a reasonable basis on which to cast one's vote, whether we think it silly and uninformed or otherwise.
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    (Original post by RFowler)
    It would be impossible to impose
    It categorically would not be impossible, there may be issues but it is not impossible! As humans we have done all manner of complicated things I am sure devising and implementing a basic test is perfectly possible if the desire was there.


    (Original post by RFowler)
    And undemocratic as well.
    I have seen plenty of points made and taken them on board, this isn't one of them. Any body could have all manner of criteria to join or be part of it. If they then decide to elect representatives and give the members a who have met the criteria an equal vote then it is democratic. For it not to be democratic the body would have told the members who the representatives would be.


    (Original post by Rinsed)
    No one has a monopoly on what is or is not a reasonable basis on which to cast one's vote, whether we think it silly and uninformed or otherwise.
    I am not sure whether you are including my suggestions when you draw this conclusion. If so I stated I am not talking about this to tackle people who may hold a different view to me. I am talking about people who simply do not understand the basic facts or who are voting based on complete falsehoods.
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    I don't think it should stop them from voting - being educated seems way to subjective and could vary from your example to "wow, you didn't know that the Conservatives are the best for this country's economy? shouldn't be allowed the vote!" - but I agree there needs to be better information for voters to really utilize the democracy. It really frustrates me because I'm in a position where I'm interested in politics but couldn't vote in the May elections because I'm still 17, whereas most of my peers are 18 and don't understand it to the point that they either didn't vote or voted for silly reasons (I overheard a conversation where they were like "I'll vote for whoever's on the posters round where Iive" "I'll vote for who my parents voted for" "I'll vote for the women MP").

    In high school I have limited memory of learning about politics - we did (a very sketchy looking) political scale in some of my lessons where it was required for context, but never in like form time, assemblies, PSHE, or whatever. Unless you chose to do Politics at A-Level, you didn't learn about even the political structures of this country; that was for your own time. I don't know if it was just my school but surely just giving a little bit of information at a basic level should be required? Though I imagine it would be tricky to keep it totally objective and not bias in any form.
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    I think it should be taught in school instead of pointless RE or citizenship.
 
 
 
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