Fractured Franchise


Reading of the article by Louis Menand only entrenched my attitude towards the issue concerning the right to vote. I do believe that the right to vote should be restricted in a way that only well-informed voters disposing of a sufficient knowledge of political situation would be recognized as being able to decide on political issues. Even if Caplan argues mostly within the framework of economic issues, his arguments remain plausible also in politics.

The universal right to vote may not be a significant problem in developed democracies, whereas in the countries that have experienced other regimes this issue becomes more sensible. This is mainly because, apart from what Caplan wrote about individual rational choice to be ignorant because of the low price of voting, the fact that the elderly population would vote only because participation (and consent, indeed) used to be their civic duty. Since those people, who form the majority of the electoral public in Slovakia, for example, are convinced that they are obliged to vote, their motivation to inform themselves on the political situation is practically zero.
Even if they believe being informed and form their political opinion, the risk that they do not consider all of the consequences of their opinion remains present. This is true not only for the elderly population, but also for most of the voting public.

I agree with Caplan that the argument of collective intelligence is not valid, and that not only because democracy is not similar to market in it`s structure, but also because another condition for the collective intelligence to take place is that the collective should not be affected by no authority (in a case where they are affected, the result radically changes). The idea of “shortcuts” in decision-making obstructs the realisation of this condition.

Also, I agree with Caplan`s statement that people tend to demand the preservation of the current status-quo. This means that the voters tend to stick to the experienced policies that did not cause much harm instead of wanting the adoption of policies that may improve the political situation and lead to the pursuit of their self-interest.

This is why I believe that the right to vote should be limited only to those, who are actually concerned about politics and have sufficient knowledge on the issues they want to decide about.
Even if many claim that democracy should be absolute and that the solutioin for all problems of democracy is more democracy, I do believe that they misunderstood it`s principles. Democracy, as I see it, is based on the equality of inputs, it means that everyone should have the right to be informed on the political situation, everyone should have an equal chance to get the right to vote. The universal right to vote is going beyond this and harms the system.

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