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    “How does understanding the sources/functions/principles of the consitution allow you to have the 'ablity' to vote? The consitiution has no relevance on your ablity to vote.”

    Of course it has no relevance to your PHYSICAL ability to vote – it has immense relevance to your ability to understand the effect of your vote.

    ”Also, why does knowing how the electoral system need to be required to vote? You go and you vote - it is completely unnecessary to understand what is then to be done with your vote.”

    I cant say that I have fully thought through the contents of the course, or what would be required… however, knowing how the electoral system works is I think integral to, again, understanding what the effect of your vote will be…

    Also I see nothing wrong with tactical voting. How does it Undermine democracy? – It is democracy at work. As I have said elsewhere – democracy is just as much a “no” as it is a “yes” – it entails the power to prevent election just as much as to decide who wins.

    “The only thing that should be required for you to vote should be the ablity to make a decision based on what you think is the best government based on the issues.”

    I agree that issues are the nub of the matter. However, it would be unrealistic to expect course in the issues – in the most part as they are constantly in flux.

    However, understanding HOW government works will help you understand HOW issues are dealt with, and how policy is made into law.

    As to not giving the vote to people who haven’t matured enough – as above – this “maturity” thing is based on people not being capable of understanding how government works as well as the issues – requiring people to comprehend government would counteract this just as much as the age of majority.

    Also I said nothing about intelligence.

    Also the minority might feel persecuted but:

    1. I am not sure many would care
    2. I am not sure that they would be a large group
    3. They can easily get the vote if they wish

    Also – saying inequality is not what we want in society is rather trite. However we have it… we have it everywhere – and sometimes we agree with it. To ask people to understand what their vote means, and what the political system is, is not iniquitous in the slightest.
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    (Original post by Speciez99)
    how can you argue that people have a responsiblity to others in para 5 yet then say that crimminals should have the vote (have i understood you correctly). If we have a responisiblity to others with our vote then surely we can expect those who have failed in societies expectations not to have the vote. I could of misunderstood you here, sorry if i have.
    No problem

    I was nto saying that criminals shouldhave the vote - what I was saying was that people are refused the vote, and yet they are:

    1. affected by government
    2. have continuing duties to society that we expect them to adhere to
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    (Original post by Lawzzzzzz)
    “How does understanding the sources/functions/principles of the consitution allow you to have the 'ablity' to vote? The consitiution has no relevance on your ablity to vote.”

    Of course it has no relevance to your PHYSICAL ability to vote – it has immense relevance to your ability to understand the effect of your vote.
    The Constitution

    A Constitution stipulates the structures and powers of government and the relationships between the different parts of government and between government and the individual citizen


    Functions
    • Fundamental statement of laws
    • Covers the powers functions and duties of the state
    • Covers the rights and duties on the individual
    • Allocates power but also limits the powers, divides or separates them
    • Check and balance
    • Establishing unifying values and underlying beliefs
    • Providing stability
    • Protecting freedom
    • Legitimising a regime
    Sources
    • Statue Law – takes precedence, European Communities Act
    • Common law – when no statue law exists, judges make it and it must be followed in future
    • Royal Prerogative – The prerogative powers of the PM that were vested in the monarchy
    • Conventions – established customs, not legal rules – ‘oil in the machinery’
    • Works of Authority – provides guidance on uncertain aspects
      • Parliamentary Practice
      • The English Constitution (Bagehot)
    • European Union Law – takes precedence over UK law – size of lorries on roads
    Principles

    • Parliamentary Sovereignty – cannot bind successor, make/unmake any law
      • Cornerstone of the British Constitution (Dicey)
      • All laws take precedence
      • Could be used to destroy components of the constitution (rule of law)
        • EU LAW
        • Referendums – entrenchment
        • ECHR
    • Rule of Law

      • Nobody can be punished unless convicted of an offence by a court
      • Equality before the law – equal access and treatment
      • Independence and impartiality of the judiciary
        • Government proposals to remove trial by jury
        • No equal access in reality
        • Terrorism Bill 2001 – detainment without trial
        • MPs are move the law – ‘Parliamentary privilege’ (slander laws)
    • Unitary State

      • One body holds all the important powers
      • This being parliament and the government
      • This principle is decreasing in importance due to devolution
    • Separation of Powers

      • The three branches should be kept separate
      • Protect individual liberties each of the three parts should be a check and balance on the other parts
        • British Ministers all sit in Parliament
    I fail to see how understanding that has any link to why someone would be better educated about there vote. The issues of the constitution are for the political scientists and judges - not the general public.




    I agree that issues are the nub of the matter. However, it would be unrealistic to expect course in the issues – in the most part as they are constantly in flux.
    Hence we can't expect anyone to pass a course.

    However, understanding HOW government works will help you understand HOW issues are dealt with, and how policy is made into law.
    That is not necessary, understand the issues are the crux of them and wheather you agree with them or not is the thing here. Knowing how the 'top-up' fee proposal will become a law is completely unncessary. If people care about the issues they will be going out to vote and express their opinion - if they do not they will stay home.

    Also the minority might feel persecuted but:

    1. I am not sure many would care
    2. I am not sure that they would be a large group
    3. They can easily get the vote if they wish

    Also – saying inequality is not what we want in society is rather trite. However we have it… we have it everywhere – and sometimes we agree with it. To ask people to understand what their vote means, and what the political system is, is not iniquitous in the slightest.
    They may not be able to easily get the vote if they wished. People should be taught through schools (citizenship lessons) about politics and this basic understanding they will gain through school is enough - we should not be expecting them to pass tests in it. A more politically legitmat population is desirable however, peoples political knowledge cannot be something by which we can discrimnate against them. Democracy is legitmate because it has the backing of the people it represents, 'man is born free' and by taking away someones right to vote you are essentially denying them to have a say in the freedom they gave up from birth.
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    (Original post by Lawzzzzzz)
    I am not discussing the merits of giving U18s the vote – what I am saying is that there are cases:

    1. where people pay taxes and don’t have the vote
    2. where people have duties to society but no right to vote
    Yes..I'm not denying that such instances exist in society, I'm denying that they should exist. Hence, my opposition to your proposal.

    Also – WHY shouldn’t voting be conditional? I don’t understand the premise…
    For the reasons outlined above, rights and responsibilities.

    People view voting in an overly egocentric manner – i.e. I can vote because I have a right to determine how the government affects ME. However, you also determine how it Affects OTHERS – that carries with it a responsibility to know what you are doing…

    As to how the threshold would be set – I would imagine relatively low – I don’t think that there would be practical problems with it – simply require that people understand the voting system – i.e. FPTP, and the constitutional setup.
    I really don't see how a knowledge of the political system is going to help anyone vote in a less egotistical manner. In fact, I can't see a knowledge of FPTP being particularly useful at all, it won't really change how they'll vote, only an understanding of the issues would do that.

    Also as to saying that if you require people to understand the above you could equally demand that they understand economic theorems I cant agree. Voting is not cumulative – you can be the deciding vote one way or another. Economically you simply contribute bit by bit to the system. Additionally, it would not be possible to restrict people from purchasing things or selling services… it is entirely possible to do this for voting. In the end it is a matter of effect.
    I think you misunderstand my point. All I was saying was that the level and content of your test seems to be entirely arbitrary. For example, in my opinion, it seems to make much more sense to include an understanding of the issues they are voting about rather than the system that will process those votes.

    Also, it seems the basis for the level you want the test to be set at seems to be related to how many would pass it at the moment. What if educational standards became worse? Would you lower the pass mark, or see a large number of people fail?

    Furthermore, once you have accepted the premise of conditional voting, taking that to its logical conclusion DOES take you to weighted votes etc.

    Also as to weighting the votes on the basis of political understanding there are two points:

    1. This is entirely impractical – there would be no measure for it
    How there can be a measure for your test, but not for mine? Seems fairly comparable. I'll just set a test that measures political understanding, knowledge and sophistication.
    2. It would favour the votes of the highly educated in a way that a low level qualification does not.
    I'm afraid, if your test is going to fail anyone at all, it isn't going to be the highly educated. Again, a matter of degrees. I can't see a logically significant point between your test and mine.

    Furthermore, I can very much imagine the Tories, for example, raising the threshold on your test because it would be to their political advantage.
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    Ok – to give you a QUICK EXAMPLE

    The Government is presently proposing to reform the Lords, and the Law Lords. This is a constitutional issue. It is also a vitally important issue which has knock on effects on the population as a whole, our justice system, the checks on the executive, the level and type of representation etc etc.

    To say that it is of no importance whether people understand what is at stake beggars belief.
    To say “The issues of the constitution are for the political scientists and judges - not the general public.” Is really worrying… I don’t really know what to say – especially considering you are doing AS politics. Constitutional matters are ENTIRELY PERTINENT to the public – just consider the EU.

    Also – by saying that it would be unrealistic to have course on issues that are constantly changing and would import emotive concepts etc. is NOT TO SAY THAT NO COURSE WOULD BE EXPECTED. A course on constitutional and political set up is by no means the same as a course on current events

    Your other point fails to realise that that often, as above – government IS THE ISSUE; you can’t properly form an opinion on a constitutional provision or manifesto pledge unless you understand the constitution in the first place

    Also, I apologise if I didn’t make myself clear. I mean that the courses SHOULD BE IN SCHOOL.

    Also you seem to proceed from an unsubstantiated premise – the whole point of this thread is to question whether people have a de facto right to a vote regardless of their knowledge. – You cant really counter the point by saying – “you have to give them the vote as they are born with that right”
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    To Llama:

    “Yes..I'm not denying that such instances exist in society, I'm denying that they should exist. Hence, my opposition to your proposal.”

    You are saying that where people pay tax and have duties to society they should always have the vote regardless?

    Also – you say that as people have responsibilities they must have the right to vote --- once again I don’t see why… it seems a real non sequitur

    As to knowledge of the constitutional and political system : see above post

    As to whether the test threshold is arbitrary – well to an extent EVERY test is… is there really a good reason to draw the line between an A and a B where its drawn? No but a line has to be drawn. It is a question of setting the requirement at a level so that certain facts are understood. What these facts would be is a matter of detail which would have to be determined AFTER one decided whether the test was a good idea in the first place.

    I do agree that the issues are the most important things: but again: see above

    As to whether educational standards fell, or the pass rate was very low… well it’s a good point. However, I don’t think that is likely, and I don’t think that the level that I am talking about would lead to that.

    Also it does NOT TAKE You towards weighted voting. This is as, as said, this is an impossibility… its entirely unworkable, and as such a slippery slope argument doesn’t apply.

    To say that you can’t measure an absolute level that people have to attain if you cant practically measure the level of everyone’s knowledge individually is just not true. The first is possible, the second could not be done.

    As to whether your test would favour the highly educated over others any more than mine, it clearly would. This is as under my test, there would be a certain threshold, and once you cross it (which most would be able to) you are one man one vote – if you start using a sliding scale then you will much more drastically favour those who are educated, as even if you can pass the absolute test, your vote will remain inferior to those who know more.
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    (Original post by Lawzzzzzz)
    Ok - to clarify... what I mean is that it is questionable whether there should be an automatic right to vote at 18 in this country.

    Surely if you need a licence to drive a car, you should perhaps have to prove that you udnerstand the political system before you can vote?

    Would it not be best to have a course in school whereby all students have to learn about how the UK system works, and what their vote entails before they can vote at a General election?

    What do you all think?
    The real puspose of a democracy is to allow the population to get rid of a leader who is abusing his position. Of course most peopel has no clue about Economics, but that is not why you need a democracy. In the long run, what is going to happen is that if living standards deterioate then people are going to vote for another government next time. The philosophy is more or less: we dont care if your arguments are right and wrong. If we are happy with society you can stay, if not we will kick you out. MAKE US HAPPY!
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    (Original post by Sanctus)
    Regardless, only intelligent and/or hardworking citizens should have the right to vote. To give equal voting rights to a jobless crack-dealing yob, and a hardworking factory worker, is insane. Clearly the latter is more deserving of the vote, and merits it.

    When the vote becomes a right for all, it is devalued and becomes meaningless.
    to give certain groups the privilage to vote or value their votes higher than uneducated, jobless crackdealing yobs is against the very foundation of democracy. the alternative u r suggesting is to weigh votes differently according to education level and/or employment status (discrimination). we will end up with an elite government that only protects the rights of those classes and supress the uneducated, jobless, crackdealing yobs etc (i.e. something close to an autocracy).
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    (Original post by Lawzzzzzz)
    To Llama:

    “Yes..I'm not denying that such instances exist in society, I'm denying that they should exist. Hence, my opposition to your proposal.”

    You are saying that where people pay tax and have duties to society they should always have the vote regardless?

    Also – you say that as people have responsibilities they must have the right to vote --- once again I don’t see why… it seems a real non sequitur
    Well, I don't intend to get into a big discussion on the social contract, but essentially I would say that no one has a duty to obey the state unless that state gives them certain rights.

    As to whether the test threshold is arbitrary – well to an extent EVERY test is… is there really a good reason to draw the line between an A and a B where its drawn? No but a line has to be drawn. It is a question of setting the requirement at a level so that certain facts are understood. What these facts would be is a matter of detail which would have to be determined AFTER one decided whether the test was a good idea in the first place.

    I do agree that the issues are the most important things: but again: see above

    As to whether educational standards fell, or the pass rate was very low… well it’s a good point. However, I don’t think that is likely, and I don’t think that the level that I am talking about would lead to that.

    Also it does NOT TAKE You towards weighted voting. This is as, as said, this is an impossibility… its entirely unworkable, and as such a slippery slope argument doesn’t apply.

    To say that you can’t measure an absolute level that people have to attain if you cant practically measure the level of everyone’s knowledge individually is just not true. The first is possible, the second could not be done.
    Why is it an impossibility? It seems perfectly workable to me, just a simple test.

    As to whether your test would favour the highly educated over others any more than mine, it clearly would. This is as under my test, there would be a certain threshold, and once you cross it (which most would be able to) you are one man one vote – if you start using a sliding scale then you will much more drastically favour those who are educated, as even if you can pass the absolute test, your vote will remain inferior to those who know more.
    Both our tests favour the educated. Mine does so more than yours, yes. I'm afraid I don't see how you can coherently argue for your test and not mine. Yours excludes some with the aim of a more politically literate electorate, mine works on exactly the same principle. Can you explain why you feel some exclusion is right, but some more is unacceptable?
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    (Original post by Lawzzzzzz)
    Ok - to clarify... what I mean is that it is questionable whether there should be an automatic right to vote at 18 in this country.

    Surely if you need a licence to drive a car, you should perhaps have to prove that you udnerstand the political system before you can vote?

    Would it not be best to have a course in school whereby all students have to learn about how the UK system works, and what their vote entails before they can vote at a General election?

    What do you all think?
    u cannot compare a drivers licence to a voting right. the purpose of a drivers licence is to test that we know HOW to drive a car. we all know HOW to vote but disagree on who to vote for. to vote is to express an opinion on who we think is best to govern the country. there is not always a right answer. but for driving there is. u either know how to drive, or u don't.
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    (Original post by icy)
    u cannot compare a drivers licence to a voting right. the purpose of a drivers licence is to test that we know HOW to drive a car. we all know HOW to vote but disagree on who to vote for. to vote is to express an opinion on who we think is best to govern the country. there is not always a right answer. but for driving there is. u either know how to drive, or u don't.
    the answer is explained in all the other posts you neglected to read in this thread.
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    (Original post by Speciez99)
    the answer is explained in all the other posts you neglected to read in this thread.
    true... i confess... i was being lazy
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    (Original post by corey)
    How does understanding the sources/functions/principles of the consitution allow you to have the 'ablity' to vote? The consitiution has no relevance on your ablity to vote.
    I beg to differ. A sound knowledge of the sources, functions and principles of the constitution would provide people with an understanding of what our democracy stands for.



    This is a time where the government is undertaking heavy-handed reform to our fragile constitution including, inter alia, the issue of the EU, rights of access to courts, trial by jury, reform of the legislature and theappointment of the judiciary. The gravity of these policies must be comprehended by the electorate. The nature of our constitution is such that other bodies of state cannot provide adequate scrutinisation of the actions of the executive (the government). The nature of our constitution is also such that the goverment (or is it really just Tony Blair?) can legislate in an almost unfettered manner, compared with countries like the US. Therefore it is only ultimately accountable to the electorate. Unfortunately, the electorate in general does not rate constitutional politics highly on its agenda, and if it does, the majority of the electorate base their views on sensationalised media coverage which does not look at the issue sensibly.

    The ramifications of altering our constitution are difficult to overstate. An elected government ultimately has its own interests of survival at stake and its constitutional reforms often have the effect of stealthily enhancing its own advantage - take the reform of the House of Lords as an example. One might argue that policing our streets, funding the NHS and immigration are more pressing issues and are therefore more important in deciding who to vote for.

    Let us back up a little. Near the top I mentioned it is important to understand what our democracy stands for. One of the reasons our constitution is arranged the way it is (ie. a 'separation' of powers) is to prevent the executive enacting legislation for short-term factional gain. My brief discussion on the constitution illustrates that an understanding of the of it increases ones awareness of the decisions made by the executive that truly do have long term consequences. And these are consequences which may be more important than short term ones such as decreasing waiting lists or increasing the number of officers on the street.

    So it can be seen that such an understanding will educate the electorate on many of the constitutional issues that are of great importance (but receive little media attention), and help draw its attention away from those media-sensationalised issues that governments seek to appease.

    (Original post by icy)
    to give certain groups the privilage to vote or value their votes higher than uneducated, jobless crackdealing yobs is against the very foundation of democracy. the alternative u r suggesting is to weigh votes differently according to education level and/or employment status (discrimination). we will end up with an elite government that only protects the rights of those classes and supress the uneducated, jobless, crackdealing yobs etc (i.e. something close to an autocracy).
    If the majority of an electorate are stupid - and this is certainly the case in the UK - they will elect stupid people. And when stupid people rule, stupid things happen. Universal democracy is a huge mistake - it's a perversion of what democracy was originally about (ie in Athens, the rule of the noble citizen). It's basically Communism ("all are equal" and rest of the lies).

    And an enlightened, noble dictatorship of Philosophers would not "supress" the poor etc but do everything to help them evolve.

    Democracy is simply the rule of the mediocre, the tyranny of the zombie-like herd against strong individuals. Democracy is only allowed to take place when great individuals become mundane.

    The herd majority are absolutely nothing – they do not matter in the larger scheme of things. They are merely nature’s method through which those rare, few genius visionaries enter the world.
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    The driving license analogy is a good one - people can do damage on the roads if they don't understand how to drive. However, it can also be applied directly to politics, in that people can do damage to the country if they vote without considering the options.

    This is something that I'm kind of in favour of - I think, at least, that people should have to name the three (four in Scotland and Wales) main parties and their leaders to show some political awareness before they can vote, thus showing that they at least know there are options. More than this, though, would be ridiculous. Education at school is good, but you're never going to have a population which is entirely politically informed; the Sun will always have influence. This, unfortunately, is just how democracy works - and actually, if a government isn't smart enough to market itself then it definitely shouldn't be running the country (although the converse is not automatically true).
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    I think that people should be allowed to vote at 16 and I also feel that everyone should be allowed to vote including criminals. I feel this because I think have a democratically elected government that is chosen by the people is the best oppion because it means that everyone has had a say in how the country is run.
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    The question though is why should they?

    Would you give the vote to 10 year olds? ( I know this as a reductio ad absurdium), but where do you draw the line? On what basis?
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    My justification for giveing the vote to 16 year old it that at this age they can have sex, get married, leave school and get a full time job and die for their country. I think that at 16 if you are old enough to die for you country you are old enough and responsible enough to vote for who you want to run the country. Also as some 16 year old are in full time work they are paying some sort of tax and therefore should be able to decide how their money is spent.
    As for people who have been to prison they are people to and therefore should have the right to vote. They may have committed a minor offence and I don't believe that just becuase you have gone to prison at some point in your life time you forfit your right to vote.
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    (Original post by randdom)
    My justification for giveing the vote to 16 year old it that at this age they can have sex, get married, leave school and get a full time job and die for their country. I think that at 16 if you are old enough to die for you country you are old enough and responsible enough to vote for who you want to run the country. Also as some 16 year old are in full time work they are paying some sort of tax and therefore should be able to decide how their money is spent.
    As for people who have been to prison they are people to and therefore should have the right to vote. They may have committed a minor offence and I don't believe that just becuase you have gone to prison at some point in your life time you forfit your right to vote.
    How is being having sex or joining the army of any relevance to somebody's ability to vote? You can't drive until you're 17, you can't drink till you're 18 - they're just as related to voting as your examples for 16. Also, you can't use tax as any kind of argument seen as the majority of 16 year olds don't pay tax, and there are adults with no jobs who don't pay tax but can obviously still vote. Unless of course you count VAT as tax, in which case 8 year olds should be able to vote.

    And how can you use the fact that "some" prisoners will only have commited a minor offence? Ignoring the fact that most jail sentences are for quite serious offences anyway, your argument would only justify a system where we only gives prisoners the right to vote based on their crime, not one where all prisoners can vote.
 
 
 
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