Should voting be compulsory in South Africa?

Compulsory voting is a system in which voters are obliged to vote in elections or attend a polling place on voting day. About 22 countries globally have made voting mandatory for its citizens. Should South Africa follow suit?

Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer of Critical Thinking and Ethics and UCT says it is better for people to vote than not to vote. He says making voting compulsory, which is done in other countries, sounds like an invasion of people's liberty.

Rousseau believes that the more people who vote in an election, the more representative the government will be of the population. He equates this to scientific research, where the bigger one's sample, the more accurate the results.

I don't think abstaining sends a good enough signal, because abstaining could be for sheer laziness or form some sort of principled choice

Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer at UCT

According to Rousseau, there is no lesson to be had in people abstaining. Rather send a message of protest by going to the polls and simply spoiling your ballots.

I think a substantial increase in spoiled ballots does send a clearer signal

Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer at UCT

We need to play a long term game. Going to vote increases legitimacy and people's confidence. We need to play the long game and hold our own political parties accountable.

Jacques Rousseau, Lecturer at UCT

Listen to the full conversation below:


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