Response to Umbers: An Instability of the Duty and Right to Vote

Res Publica 26 (2):275-280 (2020)
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Abstract
Lachlan Umbers defends democracy against Jason’s Brennan’s competence objection, by showing that voting even incompetently does not violate the rights of others, as the risk imposed is negligible, and furthermore lower than other permissible actions, e.g. driving. I show there are costs in taking this line of argument. Accepting it would make arguing for the duty to vote more difficult in two ways: since voting incompetently is permissible, and not voting imposes less risk than not voting, then not voting is permissible; in terms of fairness, voting incompetently is worse than not voting, if voting incompetently is permissible, then there cannot be a fairness-based duty to vote.
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First archival date: 2019-03-16
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