No Vote No Right To Complain?

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No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby setzer777 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:46 pm UTC

Do you believe that complaining about a politician when you chose not to vote in that election is hypocritical?

If you are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils and choose not to vote, does that make you partially responsible if the "more evil" one wins? If you do vote and your "lesser evil" politician wins, are you partially responsible for all of the bad things they do (the stuff you knew you disagreed with when you voted for them)?
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Voco » Thu Mar 05, 2009 7:58 pm UTC

setzer777 wrote:Do you believe that complaining about a politician when you chose not to vote in that election is hypocritical?

If you are forced to choose between the lesser of two evils and choose not to vote, does that make you partially responsible if the "more evil" one wins? If you do vote and your "lesser evil" politician wins, are you partially responsible for all of the bad things they do (the stuff you knew you disagreed with when you voted for them)?


Assuming the person who lost was a saint, this might make sense. But what if the person in power IS the lesser of two evils? What if you're glad the other guy didn't win, but still upset by the actions of the elected candidate? Surely you don't forfeit your "right to complain" just because there exists an even worse evil.

Elections are a way to represent the "will of the people," and it's entirely possible that you disagree with that will, no matter how you contributed to its determination. It's also possible to dislike specific actions while supporting a candidate in general. Maybe you didn't vote because you think either candidate would be good for the job, and your complaint is something not related to "who won" but to the actions of the individual in power.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Belial » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:08 pm UTC

Also, continually voting for the lesser of two evils contributes to the idea that a politician doesn't need to actually try to address your concerns to get your vote. They don't have to be good, they just have to be slightly better than the other guy.

Some see that as a bullshit message to send. And so they are willing to, for example, suffer another 4 years of republican rule in order to send a message to, for example, the democratic party that it can't, for example, continuously sell out womens' and gay rights issues to the right and expect to keep getting the homosexual and woman vote just because the democrats don't actively screw those groups like the republicans do.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Indon » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:15 pm UTC

While I agree with the sentiment of 'If you don't vote, STFU', in reality it's not a binary issue.

There are other ways to contribute to the political system than just voting, both more and less effective measures (complaining, in fact? Less effective. Letter to your congressman? Probably more effective).

Talking about the system demonstrates an interest and some degree of willingness to invest energy into improving the system. The next step is not to say, "Shut up, you didn't vote!" but to convince them that voting is a relatively low-energy way to contribute towards improving the system (or, if they're disillusioned with voting, mention some other way to change people's minds/get them energized about issues or whathaveyou).
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Natael » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:16 pm UTC

How about stop voting for the lesser of two evils and actually use your vote to voice who you prefer, and then complain about the crap we have to deal with?

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Chfan » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:45 pm UTC

I still think you have the right to complain, as your vote wouldn't have made a difference no matter what.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby natraj » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:48 pm UTC

Indon wrote:There are other ways to contribute to the political system than just voting,


This. I don't vote (I'm an anarchist and have too many problems with our current system) but I contribute very actively to working on the issues I care about. I'd much rather see people getting out there and working hard to effect change themselves rather than simply punching holes in a ballot once every election cycle and thinking that's all the work that needs to be done.

(Clearly, you can do both things! Voting + other contributions. That is also rad.)
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Jessica » Thu Mar 05, 2009 8:56 pm UTC

As we are part of a democracy which doesn't force voting, voting is a choice. It's a choice afforded to you by the state, and if you choose not to vote, it is completely within your rights.

This is completely separate from complaining to an elected official. An elected official represents everyone in a district, whether they voted or not, and whether they voted for him/her or not.

Thus, whether you vote or not has no effect on whether you can complain.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Velict » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:11 pm UTC

Chfan wrote:I still think you have the right to complain, as your vote wouldn't have made a difference no matter what.


On a micro scale, true.

On a macro scale, voter apathy is one of the key reasons that the politicians don't even bother to represent you - younger people don't vote, so they are far less important to politicians.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby bigstrat2003 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:48 pm UTC

Natael wrote:How about stop voting for the lesser of two evils and actually use your vote to voice who you prefer, and then complain about the crap we have to deal with?


Truth. Nothing irritates me more than the insistence upon voting for the lesser of two evils, when the lesser isn't really such a good option either. I don't demand that a candidate be perfect, but I do demand they don't suck. If both of the major candidates suck (and they usually do), I will vote third-party, rather than actively help to put a bad person into office.

People not being willing to vote for who they really want just screws us all in the end.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Jessica » Thu Mar 05, 2009 9:53 pm UTC

bigstrat2003 wrote:
Natael wrote:How about stop voting for the lesser of two evils and actually use your vote to voice who you prefer, and then complain about the crap we have to deal with?
Truth. Nothing irritates me more than the insistence upon voting for the lesser of two evils, when the lesser isn't really such a good option either. I don't demand that a candidate be perfect, but I do demand they don't suck. If both of the major candidates suck (and they usually do), I will vote third-party, rather than actively help to put a bad person into office.

People not being willing to vote for who they really want just screws us all in the end.
And when none of the candidates are who you want? Every time I have chosen not to vote, it was because none of the candidates were people I wanted.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby bigstrat2003 » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:25 pm UTC

Jessica wrote:
bigstrat2003 wrote:
Natael wrote:How about stop voting for the lesser of two evils and actually use your vote to voice who you prefer, and then complain about the crap we have to deal with?
Truth. Nothing irritates me more than the insistence upon voting for the lesser of two evils, when the lesser isn't really such a good option either. I don't demand that a candidate be perfect, but I do demand they don't suck. If both of the major candidates suck (and they usually do), I will vote third-party, rather than actively help to put a bad person into office.

People not being willing to vote for who they really want just screws us all in the end.
And when none of the candidates are who you want? Every time I have chosen not to vote, it was because none of the candidates were people I wanted.


Then, by all means, don't vote. I certainly wouldn't, if I found all the candidates to be poor choices (it hasn't happened yet, so I haven't had to make that choice, but if I ever do, then I won't vote). I base my vote primarily on the fact that I will not vote for someone who I dislike, even if it's to try to stop someone who I dislike more. I will not directly contribute to bad government.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Indon » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:36 pm UTC

Belial wrote:Also, continually voting for the lesser of two evils contributes to the idea that a politician doesn't need to actually try to address your concerns to get your vote. They don't have to be good, they just have to be slightly better than the other guy.

Some see that as a bullshit message to send. And so they are willing to, for example, suffer another 4 years of republican rule in order to send a message to, for example, the democratic party that it can't, for example, continuously sell out womens' and gay rights issues to the right and expect to keep getting the homosexual and woman vote just because the democrats don't actively screw those groups like the republicans do.


If you want to send a message, wouldn't it be better to send a literal message (i.e. non-voting measures of influencing government) than it would be to use your vote, a direct tool with which you can potentially change how government operates, on it?
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Belial » Thu Mar 05, 2009 10:40 pm UTC

Nothing saying you can't do both.

That said, if you continually complain but ultimately vote democrat anyway, the thought runs that you're just telling the politician in question that they can ignore your complaints and expect your vote anyway.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby nightlina » Thu Mar 05, 2009 11:34 pm UTC

Here in Australia we're obliged to vote. Everybody *has* to vote, else we get fined. So yeah, here we generally vote for 'the lesser of two evils', for, as said in a book I once read, 'We aren't necessarily voting to get the perfect person in; we're voting to keep the horrible person out' (or something to that effect.)
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby superglucose » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:32 am UTC

That's utter bullshit. What if you intended to vote but that day something happened to your dog/girlfriend/family/self/house/car?

You have a right to complain no matter what you do.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby mercurythief » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:42 am UTC

Maybe the saying should be, 'if you don't vote, and your vote would have decided the election, you can't complain'.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby thatguy » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:54 am UTC

setzer777 wrote:Do you believe that complaining about a politician when you chose not to vote in that election is hypocritical?

Yes. If you didn't bother to have your voice heard on the polling day, why should you bother now?
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However, I've underage for every election thus far, and have more than once been told to shut up because I can't vote and therefore don't count. :x Choosing not to vote is very different from not being able too, though.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby bratwurst » Fri Mar 06, 2009 12:56 am UTC

mercurythief wrote:Maybe the saying should be, 'if you don't vote, and your vote would have decided the election, you can't complain'.


I still disagree. Politicians [lie/bullshit/make inane promises they know they can't keep] all the time. If you vote for something and they backtrack, it's perfectly well within your rights to complain. And even if people don't have the "right" to complain, they are still perfectly free to do so (metaphysical freedom and all that jazz), so it's not like telling them to shut up and go away will make them be quiet.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby nightlina » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:00 am UTC

superglucose wrote:That's utter bullshit. What if you intended to vote but that day something happened to your dog/girlfriend/family/self/house/car?

You have a right to complain no matter what you do.

You can explain the situation, or send your vote in - they do give you a bit of leeway. But you have to vote or explain why you haven't voted - they're pretty reasonable about it, to be honest, and they do their best to make it pretty easy to get to your local voting place.

I was mostly just trying to illustrate that it isn't a choice here - you *have* to vote. Although you can choose to make a 'dummy' vote, which is where you just hand back a blank form.

I think the only problem that arises from this is that you have people making uninformed votes - they vote without really understanding *who* they are voting for. On the positive, though, it means that there's no social stigma against voting - no person in Australia is going to feel pressured into not voting as we all *have* to.

@thatguy - my boyfriend would so vote for lizardmen as well. He loves his warhammer battalion :D
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby JBJ » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:01 am UTC

You have every right to complain whether you voted or not. In fact, I'd argue that complaining gives you more power to influence your (community/city/county/country) than a single vote. Now, by complaining I mean addressing your concerns in a public forum with well reasoned arguments, writing your congress-critter, or basically taking an active part in the process. Use your voice to influence.

Now if by complaining you're just saying things suck without much reason and no intention to do anything, I don't care if you voted or not, STFU :D .
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby superglucose » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:13 am UTC

Whoops, lina, I wasn't talking to you. I was talking about the principle of "no vote no complain" in general. It drives me bonkers because telling people they *have* to vote is only a couple steps from telling them they have to vote for *me*. If people can be so easily coerced into voting they can be easily coerced into voting for a certain person, and democracy really only works, in my mind, if people are not experiencing outside pressure to vote and if they are also informed.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Qoppa » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:30 am UTC

I agree with idea of not voting meaning you're not allowed to complain. My rational is that if you don't even attempt to sway the outcome of the vote, you can't complain when it ends up not agreeing with what you want. Even if there is no chance that the candidate you want to win will win, by voting you're at least stating how you feel and that you're not entirely apathetic. If all the candidates suck, spoil your ballot. It still says something, namely that you think all the candidates suck. You're voicing your opinion and even if it doesn't actually get counted at all, neither does not voting.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby SecondTalon » Fri Mar 06, 2009 1:40 am UTC

Idle pondering, as I'm sure it's different for different systems, but..

If your nation doesn't enforce voting, doesn't the impression of "My choices suck" get across better when you show up, get your ballot and.. immediately turn it back in, completely blank? Do the electronic ones (are people still using those?) have an abstain button?

/says the guy who really has no idea what happens when you turn in a blank ballot.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby roc314 » Fri Mar 06, 2009 2:11 am UTC

Am I the only one who sees the idea that not voting implies you mayn't complain as being anathema to democracy? Telling someone they aren't allowed to have a voice in something for whatever arbitrary reason seems to me to be the complete opposite of people having a voice.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby nightlina » Fri Mar 06, 2009 3:25 am UTC

SecondTalon wrote:/says the guy who really has no idea what happens when you turn in a blank ballot.

Not sure where you are (I could prob find out, but I'm lazy) but here in Aus the voting is all done at public places (usually schools) and counted there, then sent on to the proper state officials who probably do a recount.

I've no idea what happens to the dummy votes at state level, but definitely at the school level the teachers who are counting them remember what people have said and written. When we were getting taught about voting I remember our teacher going through and telling us all the funny non-votes he had read. Someone had voted for the school's chickens as they thought they were 'better than the lying politicians'.

We then had an interesting discussion on politics and whether chickens really would do better.

So yeah, this is kind of a ramble, but basically by making a dummy vote that person had much more of a say than if they had never voted at all. Their opinion actually got out there and has gone on to influence me today.

(edit - oh, SG, that's cool - I just read it as following what I had written and was a little surprised at your tone :) Reading what you wrote in the context of it following the OP makes much more sense now :))
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby ParanoidAndroid » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:33 am UTC

I will never vote for the lesser of two evils. If I'm presented with two bad choices, I'll submit a protest vote. Of course, if you're an anarchist or whatever who disagrees with voting on a fundamental level, then of course you can not vote and still complain, as you're still being consistent in your beliefs.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby ethraax » Fri Mar 06, 2009 4:53 am UTC

nightlina wrote:So yeah, here we generally vote for 'the lesser of two evils', for, as said in a book I once read, 'We aren't necessarily voting to get the perfect person in; we're voting to keep the horrible person out' (or something to that effect.)

This. I couldn't vote in the recent election (US), but I will be able to vote in the midterm elections, and I don't intend to throw my vote away for this reason exactly. I never expect a politician to share my views on several things - they just wouldn't be electable - so I'm willing to settle for them sharing enough of my views.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby ella mental » Fri Mar 06, 2009 5:49 am UTC

No I don't think so. Telling people they have no right to complain if things go wrong will only make them rush out and vote arbitrarily just in case. And that means we'll have more people voting who really don't understand the issues at all, diluting the results further. Maybe if there was some voting test about the people's understanding of the issues before people could cast their vote, but that's a whole other story.

Just out of curiousity, say there was a country who let ANYONE run if they got the 500 supporters (I don't know if there is any like this), could a party running on a dictatorship mandate be voted in by a democratic election?

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby superglucose » Fri Mar 06, 2009 6:03 am UTC

Technically the state governments in the US can be dictatorships. There is no provision in the US constitution that requires governments under the Federal level to be democratic at all. Just like there's no provision that prevents the State of California from declaring Pastafarianism as the state religion (before you bring up the first amendment, let me pre-emptively let you know that you're reading it and the fourteenth amendments incorrectly and that the argument works on a constitutional level).

That has been your constitutional law trivia of the day (I get like this when I have dinner with my dad... he's a lawyer and we love dredging up outlandish debates where I come up with something completely ridiculous (CA as a dictatorship, or with Pastafarianism as its state religion) and I defend it constitutionally until he begrudgingly accepts that yes, the argument works).

Anyways pressuring people to vote is just as bad as pressuring people to vote for a specific candidate in my mind.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Enid Coleslaw » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:11 am UTC

Chfan wrote:I still think you have the right to complain, as your vote wouldn't have made a difference no matter what.


This surely depends on the electoral system? This is largely true for FPTP systems, but not for proportional representation.

Anyway, I think the idea put forth in the thread title is slightly more narrow. Perhaps, you have no right to complain if you don't partake in the democratic process - this doesn't have to be voting. If you truly despise all candidates and their policies, there are other availible avenues - protests etc. If you don't partake in anything of that sort, then it might be fair to say you don't have a right to complain.

However, denying an individual of their right to show distaste of a current government is a dangerous thing to do no matter how lazy or apathetic they may be.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby jb17kx » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:52 am UTC

SexyTalon, in Australia, a blank or defaced ballot is declared invalid and simply excluded from the tally. There's nothing on it to identify you unless you put it there, so they get destroyed and the AEC officials get some funny stories to tell.

As a note though, our Senate elections offer "above-the-line" or "below-the-line" voting. If you vote above-the-line, you simply place a 1 in the box for your preferred party, which means you are voting along their pre-arranged order.

If you vote below, you have to number from 1 to whatever (often in excess of 20 or even 40) every single candidate's box. Failure to do so renders the ballot invalid.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby SecondTalon » Sat Mar 07, 2009 2:55 am UTC

If, say, 80% of the ballots were turned in blank, would that cause notice?
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Xutar » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:42 am UTC

I say you have a right to complain if you think that person is doing a shitty job at what they should be doing

"man I don't like Bush's foreign policies"
"Did you vote for Kerry?"
"No I was only 12"
"THEN YOU HAVE NO RIGHT oh wait, you're 16? You're pretty tall."

Yes I have had that conversation with someone before.

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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby ethraax » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:33 am UTC

It's very common for politicians to back down from campaign promises. You may have voted for someone on some basis, and then they may have abandoned that. Even if you vote for the person you're complaining about, you still have a right to complain.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby Chfan » Sat Mar 07, 2009 1:22 pm UTC

What I mean is say you live in an electorate with a majority who was going to vote for one of the candidates (unless it was going to be close). In the Obama election if you complain that McCain should have won and you lived in California, how exactly would your vote count? Unless it's the thought that's important, in which case I have to say that doing futile things just to try usually usually is a waste of time. I say usually, because in this situation it is- in others it might not be.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby setzer777 » Sat Mar 07, 2009 3:54 pm UTC

Enid Coleslaw wrote:
Anyway, I think the idea put forth in the thread title is slightly more narrow. Perhaps, you have no right to complain if you don't partake in the democratic process - this doesn't have to be voting. If you truly despise all candidates and their policies, there are other available avenues - protests etc. If you don't partake in anything of that sort, then it might be fair to say you don't have a right to complain.


Of course all a protest *is* is complaining in public (with some other people). If you don't have a lot of local support for your cause, I think complaining to the people around you (and giving compelling backing for your complaint) is more effective in influencing opinion than standing outside holding a sign with a dozen other people.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby gibberishtwist » Sat Mar 07, 2009 4:34 pm UTC

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Last edited by gibberishtwist on Fri Jun 23, 2017 9:46 am UTC, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby jb17kx » Sat Mar 07, 2009 8:36 pm UTC

SecondTalon wrote:If, say, 80% of the ballots were turned in blank, would that cause notice?


Quote probably. I'm not really sure what they could do about it though. Because we use (for most things) Full Preferential Voting (IRV with all candidates numbered) it would just be a case of doing all the eliminations and seeing if anybody still came out with a majority.

If not, then there are procedures for dealing with elections in which all ballots are exhausted before a majority is attained, but I can't profess to know what they are.
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Re: No Vote No Right To Complain?

Postby william » Sun Mar 08, 2009 12:06 am UTC

Enid Coleslaw wrote:
Chfan wrote:I still think you have the right to complain, as your vote wouldn't have made a difference no matter what.


This surely depends on the electoral system? This is largely true for FPTP systems, but not for proportional representation.

Even then the chance your vote makes a difference is very small unless you hit a "sweet spot" for the formula used. And even then the closest you should get is roughly one over the square root of the number of voters.
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