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Mandatory Voting in Argentina

August 1, 2011

Yesterday in Buenos Aires (Capital Federal, or CABA (Ciudad Autonoma de Buenos Aires)) there were mayoral elections. So I got drunk with some friends at a birthday party. YES!

Keep in mind though we had to stock up on alcohol at least 24 hours in advance, and legally speaking we were supposed to stock up nearly 2 days in advance. Why? In Argentina it is technically illegal to sell alcohol from 8pm on the Friday night before the Sunday elections. And I say technically for obvious reasons.

So my friend who had the birthday, invited everyone and thankfully, yours truly – who certainly does not spend all of his time thinking about alcohol (just a large percentage of it) – reminded everyone in a Facebook post to the event wall, that they should stock up on alcohol so as to ensure we have a good time at the party. Yes, fun requires alcohol.

What seems ironic is number one obligatory voting… I’m not sure what the penalties are but its a criminal offense! And number two that you can’t sell alcohol. Meh?

It seems to me that if you have a legal penalty that is enforced if you don’t do something then what the heck does the sale of alcohol have to do with anything? That’s like saying it’s mandatory to wear your seatbelt on Sundays and in order to help enforce the law we are going to ban the sale of alcohol on Saturdays. This connection does not actually exist, it’s totally arbitrary.

What also seems interesting to me is that in a country where nearly everybody thinks the government are crooks and thieves and out to get them, somehow a law got passed which says that you must participate.

As to the merits of whether voting should be obligatory? Well we did a nice piece on this on BA Cast in addition to a whole month of shows on electoral systems in the USA vs Argentina. It should be fun. You can listen here.

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