Should Voting be Compulsory in the US?

 

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Taft, Texas. Photo by Jay Phagan

Emma Danks-Lambert

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights states in Article 21: “The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government; this will shall be expressed in periodic and genuine elections which shall be by universal and equal suffrage and shall be held by secret vote or by equivalent free voting procedures.”

The United States has the lowest voter turnout records for a democratic society in the Western World and typically, those who aren’t able to vote are from lower socio-economic areas and minority groups whom struggle to reach polling stations due to distance, Republican tactics of voter disinformation, deliberate attempts to purge voters, refusal of registration for certain voters and long waiting times that can discourage people from attending.

Tomorrow (Tuesday, November 8th) the United States will have an election that could either vote in a Democrat or the Chancellor turned Sith Lord who turns the Galactic Federation into the Empire with extreme responses to acts of rebellion, shoddy weaponry systems and attempts to wipe out a religion because it’s considered a threat to the Sith’s rule.

Setting aside the sheer foolishness of having polls open on a working week day without a sausage sizzle in sight-an act that would surely lead to street riots in Australia- the latest poll on Real Clear Politics showed only one point difference between four years of continuity in the United States and the last four years the United States might ever have.

However, in 2012, voter turnout was only 57.5% and when the approval rating of both candidates is at historic lows, it is unlikely that this election will see a dramatic increase in that number; this means that the countries future is in the hands of the minor few instead of the majority.

Yet, in 2008, a study revealed that the previous elections of 2000 and 2004 could have swung to the Democrats if there had been universal turnout as encouraged by compulsory voting.

So why doesn’t America have compulsory voting?

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A view of the Australia Parliament on the 2016 election day. It is a famously tasty day in one of the only countries to have compulsory voting. Photo by Democracysausage

Compulsory voting is only enforced in twenty-two countries across the world (and one Swiss canton) and in those countries the fines for not voting are typically so low as to be considered symbolic more than a diversionary tactic. One of the more common arguments against compulsory voting in America is the first amendment of the Constitution which allows for freedom of religious practise, which for over one million Americans who are Jehovah’s Witnesses, means the right not to participate in political happenings. More famously, it allows for freedom of speech, for which it is claimed that compulsory voting is compelled speech and thus a violation of that right. In this case America’s liberty might be its downfall.

Click here for more by Emma Danks-Lambert.

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When Asylum becomes Prison: Refugee Siblings confined to Britain’s Dungavel Detention Centre

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The entrance to Dungavel Dentention Centre, where the UK’s unsuccessful asylum seekers await deportation: Photo by Azerifactory

Emma Danks-Lambert

The Dublin Regulation is a law concerning European Union Member States and asylum seekers. It establishes the Member State that is responsible for the receiving and examination of an application for asylum, and for deciding whether the criteria for asylum have been met by the applicant. It is often explained in the news as the regulation that ensures asylum seekers must apply for asylum in the first EU country they entered. It has been heavily criticized by Hungary and Poland since 2015, with both countries making thinly veiled Eurosceptic remarks about taking power back from the European Union. The European Council on Refugees and Exiles often criticizes the Regulation due to the restrictiveness of the criteria for asylum, the lack of protection it offers asylum seekers and for its failure to take the interests of asylum seekers into account.

Benjamin and Ali Mahammadi are two young men who lived in Sunderland, in the North of England, past Newcastle, on the River Wear and by the sea. These two brothers were actively involved in their Church and Community, taking part in clean-up days, bible class translations, the local radio station and sport events at the University of Sunderland. Continue reading “When Asylum becomes Prison: Refugee Siblings confined to Britain’s Dungavel Detention Centre”

The Czarny Protest: Poland’s Government faces revolt over new strict Abortion Bill

This article is the opinion of the author and does not necessarily representative the views of The Euroculturer, the management and editorial staff of The Euroculturer or contributors to The Euroculturer

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Emma Danks-Lambert

The Czarny Protest- Women in Poland don black to protest the loss of their dignity and security in rallies held outside of parliament buildings and in town squares across major cities in Poland.

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Czarny Protest in Krakow

They are wearing black to protest the introduction of new abortion laws which would see victims of rape and incest forced to give birth to the result of their violations, whilst those whose fetus has severe or permanent impairment, those who would be at risk of long-term health complications from carrying their child to term, will have no choice in the matter. Soon Poland may see a law passed that restricts abortion in all but the most clear cut life and death situations.

The abortion law in force now, was passed in 1993 and restricts abortions save for cases of risk to the mother’s life, impairment of the fetus, and children conceived through rape and incest.

Women are being told by the Polish Parliament that their life, their place in Polish society, the fact that they are theoretically equal citizens before the law, matters less than what their womb can produce.

Pro-life activists, backed by the Catholic Church, were the ones who submitted this new law for the consideration of the Parliament, asking for the complete restriction of abortions save for life or death situations and gathered half a million signatures, four hundred thousand more than was necessary for submission.

The Law and Justice Party (PiS) who is currently in power and considering these further restrictions, are a national right-wing conservative party but even the main opposition party Civic Platform- a liberal-conservative party, has refused to consider liberalizing abortion laws.

If the anti-abortion bills become law, women and female children who do undergo abortions for any reason short of life and death situations will risk between three months and five years in prison. Whilst doctors who seek to perform these unauthorized abortions will face increased prison sentences. The Gazeta Wroclawska quotes one protester stating that :”It’s a cruel and inhuman law. It will endanger all of us. We do not want to live in a country where the bed of a pregnant woman is surrounded by armed police officers and a prosecutor, where every abortion ends in investigation, where raped girls are forced to bear the children of their rapists ” (Translated from Polish)

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Czarny Protest in Gdansk

Pro-choice activists have tried to counter with their own initiative by producing a bill called ‘Save the Women’, which would allow abortions for the first 12 weeks of pregnancy.Within a very short time the bill had collected215,000 signatures but has since been ignored by the Parliament.

The reasoning behind the Black Protest movement is described by the organizer of the Lublin branch, Catherine Babis, as – “(We) organized the protest, because we are tired of being treated like objects in the ideological controversy. It is easy to talk about sacrifice and holiness of life, if it applies to sacrifice someone else. We do not agree with forcing women to be heroic in the name of someone else’s ideology and someone else’s beliefs. We can see how it ends in countries that have introduced similar laws, countries dealing out sentences for miscarriage, and the doctors looking idly on the death of women who could be saved. We do not want Poland to be turned into a hell for women. We want dignity and security for us and for our families.”

Click here for more by Emma Danks-Lambert.

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Fellows in Persecution: Two months with the Irish Travellers

 

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Pavee Point Home Office

Emma Danks-Lambert

Number of romantic remnants of a bygone age living in a closed-off, inaccessible community spotted: 0

Number of horses spotted: 1

Pavee* Point Traveller and Roma Centre is located in North Dublin, in a building that shows up on Pokemon Go as the Free Church that it was prior to conversion.

There is a parking lot for the cars that the employees and visitors drive in and no space for wagons. In the kitchen, where endless cups of tea and coffee are brewed, you’ll find people gathering for lunch chatting about recent events in the news, sports, or discussing their lives; the conversations are carried out in English, Irish English but still, one of the most commonly spoken languages across Europe and the world.

I volunteered at Pavee Point for two months and the experience was educational and eye-opening.

There is a combination of employees and volunteers at Pavee Point, some are Traveller and some are settled people**. To the eyes of an Australian who was encountering Travellers for the very first time, there is no visible difference between this minority and the mainstream Irish population. Yet whatever difference there is has left uncountable generations of people facing discrimination in every aspect of their lives from birth until death.

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Irish Travellers in 1954

Still, in spite of the ramifications of this discrimination, in spite of the fact that when discussed in the media, Pavee and Roma are either romanticized as nomadic wanderers or demonized as trouble-makers, everyone I met was eagerly striving to improve their communities. Through art projects, community gardens, health-education programmes, surveys, information sessions and whatever forms that can be tailored to meet the specific needs of Traveller and/or Roma are carried out. I visited a halting site*** and was welcomed warmly, I encountered an issue with accents- namely, mine- Australian is almost a language in itself rather than a butchered version of English.

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Traveller Rights Activists

I was asked about my time in Dublin, my studies and the treatment of Aboriginal Australians by our government and our people- all this while leaning against a wall, chatting while my supervisor for the day was off working. I was at first surprised by the avid interest shown by the Travellers in the Aboriginal Australians, which went beyond my general knowledge and into policies and programmes, before realizing that the interest was in fellow persecuted minorities. In peoples who faced similar hardships for no other reason than that they had been born and existed. As a Caucasian Australian whose only close encounter with discrimination has been trying to get through Border Control into the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland, I can’t speak on behalf of the Pavee or the Roma any more than I could speak on behalf of Aboriginal Australians, nor would I want to. All I can speak of is my admiration for anyone who can face such odds in life and instead of giving up, will instead try to find a way forward for themselves and their people while still maintaining a sense of humor and openness towards anyone who can see past the incorrect stereotypes.

*Pavee- The word for Traveller in Cant. **Settled People- Non- Travellers                      ***Halting site- Traveller housing site.      

Click here for more by Emma Danks-Lambert .

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(Europe needs all its voices to weather the challenges faces it today. Equip yourself with the knowledge you need to stand up for your Europe. Join the FREE online course, ‘European Culture and Politics’ starting September 26.)

To learn more about the work of Pavee Point, click here