Yes No Abstain Voting


When a ballot gives you the set of {Yes, No, Abstain} to choose from. Abstention typically involves not voting at all, but sometimes you do say "I Abstain" or something like that.

Abstenstion is a useful political situation to being stuck between a rock and a hard place. Typically, you don't want to choose between two really bad situations or, for OpenElections?, you don't want to offend either camp. So, instead you choose to make no choice.

However, this hard rule of choosing is countermand to normal life problem solving when you aren't stuck with dichotomous ultimata. However, that's the way the democratic system crumbles. It does have the advantage of forcing people to have a solid, unambiguous opinion or no opinion at all.

When some one proposes a situation which requires you to offer a yes or no, with the added proviso that the accumulated yes vote and the accumulated no vote will decide the issue, the abstentions and the failure to vote are not counted. (The intentions of the non-voter is not communicated to the process). He cannot say by his failure to vote, "I do not like either choice". In order for that to happen, it must be offered before the ballot is composed and the election is held. This involves participation in the process. In some societies this is allowed and even encouraged, in others it is disallowed and "out of order".

The democratic system crumbles through non-participation and care-less-ness. As far as solid, unambiquous opinion or no opinion - some voters vote no on everything, or use the theory "vote the rascals out". While that is unambiguous, it is not very solid.

By voting for some political group you accept responsibility for the actions of that group. If the system chooses to remove a persons right to be represented by never representing their views, then to vote within that system is to endorse it. Democracy is about representation, not a charade of votes for essentially the same group of power-elite. I would welcome a RON entry or a 'no confidence' entry on a ballot. This does not serve the system, however, and so is very rarely seen. Better to pretend people are too lazy or too stupid, rather than admit maybe people cannot respect a government which represents only itself and its sponsors.
By voting for some political group you accept responsibility" - That is not so. You do not vote for groups, you vote on an enactment, a candidate, a representative. That vote is either Yes/No - Put the enactment into being, or Yes/No put the representative into office. That he belongs to a number of associations (both prolitical and private) does not place his conduct in your area of responsibility. You expect the representative to represent you - and if he does not, it is not your fault. As to "no confidence" voting - that exists in some electorial systems and is probably a good thing, in that it allows the removal of a representative who does not represent well the interests of the electorate. But to say that one who votes yes for a candidate has accepted responsibility for the actions of his party does not follow.

I don't understand this view at all. If I'm voting for someone, I certainly take into account his political affiliations. And if he's affilated to a party, I expect that largely he will behave in accordance to what that party has said is their aim. And if that party makes changes based on their declared aims, I certainly feel partly responsible for that.

This may be because I vote in elections where the party that forms a majority in the legislature forms the government. The US isn't like that.

Believe me, you will be held responsible for your vote if it is successful. Ask the Iraqis or the Serbs.

"Ask the Iraqis and/or the Serbs" - Is not the question that needs to be answered - I believe the topic is YesNoAbstainVoting. The Yes and No part is pretty well understood, Lets accept the (to avoid argument) that you vote for the party when you vote for a candidate (I don't know where that puts you if you vote for candidates from all the parties) But let's say that your sympathies rest with the views of one party (and that you vote to elect members of that party). Where does that leave us with regard to those who Abstain by not Voting for one or another candidate, or does not vote on an issue submitted for voter approval.?

Then you are served by the system so you probably think abstention, explicit or otherwise, is valueless.

No I do think there is value there, I posed the question: "Where does that leave us with regard to the Abstain/No Voting issue?" meaning to say - forget the issues above, they have all the proponents they need, what about the rest, the non-voters or abstainers? How can they voice their opinion? Unite and form another party? Not likely to happen, and if it does, not likely to be successful. What would you suggest?

Believe me, you will be held responsible for your vote if it is successful. Ask the Iraqis or the Serbs.

Well, first of all Iraqis didn't vote at all. Serbs did kind of vote . So the facts are not right. There's also a clear distinction between being held responsible and suffering the consequences, the two are not the same. I think you meant the second one.

The two are not distinct. The latter is usually justified by the former. The examples are not important, pedantry aside. I still contend that you are 'de facto' responsible for the consequences of your actions. Most criminal law is predicated on this.

What you say is absurd. First of all what de jure you ARE NOT held responsible for how you vote. DE FACTO you may suffer the consequences (sorry but the distinction is very clear) but not of your individual actions but of the general result. Practical examples show that Germans were not on trial at Nurenberg, nor Serbs are on trial at Hague.

"Ask the Iraqis and/or the Serbs - & - 'de facto' responsible for the consequences of your actions" - does not address the issue I mentioned above - Where does that leave us with regard to the Abstain/No Voting issue? Is an abstain from voting for the purpose of having nothing to do with the selection process. Is it better to leave the selection process to others? Is it a vote for anarchy? What purpose (other than conscience relief) is there for removing oneself from the electoral process? This is still an unanswered question. Since you brought up criminal law, is this a hint that the party system is criminal? If so, are both parties guilty?

A bomb on the head is a judgement. That is de facto. If you read my original argument the answer to your question may appear. Criminality is not at issue, responsibility is. You vote for a monster, you are held responsible for that monster, and rightly so IMO. An abstention means that you do not wish to support any candidate. If you deny responsibility for your actions (or their effects) then this will not make sense.

First of all, Bomb on your head is WAR, if you don't see the difference between war and justice, I don't think we can continue the argument. If you think a bomb on your head is just or right, then you are a lousy person from my perspective. Not to mention that you deny that justice should be applied individually. If you continue on this note, I think you're no better than the ""nazis"" you're trying to judge with bombs (including the serbs that voted or not for Milosevic).
Personal opionion to interject before this turns into MudSlinging?..... If I propose a bill into the legislature (hypothetically of course) and a significant portion of the members Abstain -- perhaps the bill needs to be revised (perhaps the abstaining members should then comment on the why instead of being ignored). However, if a significant portion of the members just do not vote, it tells me nothing with regards to the fitness of the bill, only as to whether the members who did vote accepted it. And if both occur -- The results should be tossed out and the bill revised. I'd also suggest this for canidates.... Here's a home-brewed example:

If you get a 40% abstain vote and 20% yea vote, and 10% nea vote, that leaves 30% of the members not voting and another 30% deciding for everyone. If my scenario, 70% of the members did not cast a yea or nea vote... and the majority of those found fault with the issue. Who cares that the 30% who did cast actual votes approved it, the overall majority did not. Unfortunately, this is exactly oposite of what you end up with in US elections (where abstain is not an option on the ballot in general, if ever) the 30% or less voters determine the public official.

If this is true, (the 30% voters determining the election), it is a sign that either people do not think that who is elected makes any difference, or that they do not care who gets elected. If voting is a responsibility, from that fact, you can say that 70% of the voters have shirked their responsibilities. The issue of who gets on the ballot seems to me to be where the focus of the 70% should be concentrated. It seems to stress the importance of the primary elections (in the case of candidates), and the hearings process (in the case of issues). I am not sure of how abstentions or non-voting works in other countries, but it seems here in the US to be of effect.


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