Democracy, for all the word gets bandied about, was not well defined in my schooling. As democracy existed in ancient Greece, it could be described as a timocracy, a form of elitist and exclusive democracy. Modern, Westminster style democracy has many variants, what is of interest to me here is compulsory & non-compulsory systems of voting.
Interesting tangents to this topic include votes weighted by professional or social qualification, plumbers have more say on plumbing by-laws; vote about each issue, a more direct participation; trade-able votes, personalities could accumulate votes. Those last two are the platform of the Flux Party, and are more fully explained here.
Compulsory voting stands where two broadly valued concepts connect, freedom & democracy. A fully free citizen is under no State compulsion, therefor compulsory voting is an infringement of freedom. Democracy is, to quote Abraham Lincoln “Government of the people, by the people, for the people.”. So exclusion from voting, from apathy or active exclusion or protest, is an infringement of democracy. Which is the Greater Good?
Demagoguery is an inherent risk of democracy, mob rule means general concerns can supersede technical concerns, amongst the possible manipulations of demagoguery. Lobbyists corrupt ideal functioning, yet the position of the lobbyist category relative to a certain type of elite business elite (in the case of tobacco), is congruent with the position of environmentalist advocate in relation to a hippy elite. That is, the lobbyist or advocate seeks to popularise the attitudes of their community, and treat the general citizen as ignorant relative to an elite attitude (free enterprise or nature love, respectively).
Drawing this line of thought towards the eponymous issue, a question arises, ‘Which voting system encourages the least worst style of demagoguery?’
If it is acceptable to inflame the generic citizen with passion enough to vote, the approach of censorship by passive exclusion is found, but only when the voting itself is non-compulsory. Compulsory voting requires demagogues to change tact, and focus on the vote more than participation. Citizens left behind by the State, are those able to benefit from a democratic revolution and also exceedingly likely to withdraw from this very process, again only if it is non-compulsory.
To paraphrase Terry Pratchett, one must know the daemons name before it can be slain. A democratic and free state should have compulsory voting to call forth the imagined conquerors of the daemons tormenting the citizen for the objective of overcoming the struggles, sufferings and horrors. This is my personal position. However, in the interest of balance, it must be stated that compulsory voting can validate a governmental system without popular approval.