chapter  4
15 Pages

Abstaining Citizenship

Deliberative and Epistocratic Understandings of Refraining from Voting
WithFrancisco Javier Gil Martín

This chapter concerns issues such as the meanings of voting and not voting as both a citizen right and a moral issue. It examines the arguments for and against compulsory voting, even though they involve discussions about the political value of abstentions. The chapter illustrates recent views about practising citizenship through voting that assume that universal turnout has become a dispensable principle whereas abstentions should be discounted as irrelevant. It states that Jason Brennan's alternatives to mass voting and electoral democracy depreciate the fact that refraining from voting involves, under certain circumstances, a deliberative commitment as a realization of the rights of political participation, and that citizens could abstain as a way of implementing democratic conditions and institutions. The chapter suggests that other 'anti-voting theorists' among the advocates of the 'mini-publics approach' declare themselves agnostic about mass participation while approving a vast majority of citizens as abstainers who blindly transfer their authorization to a few representative ones.