An argument for voting abstention

Public Affairs Quarterly 23 (4):279-286 (2009)
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Abstract

I argue that voting abstention may be obligatory under certain non-trivial conditions. Following recent work on voting ethics, I argue that the obligation to abstain under certain conditions follows from a duty not to vote badly. Whether one votes badly, however, turns on more than one's reasons for wanting a particular candidate elected or policy implemented. On my account, one's reasons for voting at all also matter, and one can be in a position where there is no way to exercise one's right to vote well. Seriously unfair electoral processes may put one in such a position. Such processes arguably hold in some contemporary western democracies, including the US.

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Nathan Hanna
Drexel University

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