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Often a considerable amount of persons in a state are not taking part in the election of a parliament. Commonly this means, that their opinion is not represented in the parliament. But do parliaments exist (or have existed) somewhere in the world, where the amount of non-voters has an influence on the distribution of the seats in the parliament (So, e.g if there are 30% non-voters, 30% of the seats will stay empty or will be filled with randomly selected citizens)?

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    It's hard to count votes that haven't been cast. And it's hard to tell the difference between a parliament which fluctuates based on size, and one which doesn't but leaves seats empty.
    – Bobson
    Oct 4 '13 at 17:53
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    Why? If the persons which are allowed to vote are all registered by the state you can calculate the amount of people which didn't vote simply by subtracting the number of people who voted from the total number of people allowed to vote. The number will be as exact as the number of people who voted.
    – asmaier
    Oct 4 '13 at 18:04
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    It works fine in theory, but it doesn't work as well in practice, unless there's some type of national ID registration that everyone must participate in. People die, and don't get taken off the rolls. Or they move, and register as a new voter in the new location without removing themselves from the old.
    – Bobson
    Oct 4 '13 at 18:16
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    In Chicago you get to vote at least twice even if you do not have time to make it to the polls Oct 4 '13 at 20:46
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    Altough this has never been done on a national scale, a way to represent non voters is through the use of sortition (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sortition)
    – Fela
    Jan 6 '14 at 19:21
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Yes: Every country with compulsory voting.

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This representation problem is why compulsory voting exists in these democracies; to avoid sampling bias of only those who are radicalised enough to vote.

The only systemic disenfranchised group tends to be children (no country with mandatory voting disenfranchises criminals).

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    This of course isn't the only answer to this question, but it is an answer; where non_voters = 0 and hence are parliaments where non-voters are represented. Oct 5 '13 at 10:56
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    It seems that although voting is mandatory, some of these countries still allow to vote for "none of the candidates", see en.wikipedia.org/wiki/None_of_the_above, e.g. in India en.wikipedia.org/wiki/49-O. But it seems that in all these countries such votes are only counted for the statistics but don't have influence on the number of seats in the parliament.
    – asmaier
    Oct 5 '13 at 18:35
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    "only counted for the statistics" is an interesting take on the fundamental limitation of Representative Democracy. A classical problem of: If you have more letters than pigeonholes, which letter goes in which pigeonhole? You could look at Mixed Member Proportional for an attempt to reduce this problem somewhat. Oct 5 '13 at 22:31
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    Many of the countries with compulsory voting also have secret voting, so people can still non-vote by throwing an empty ballot into the ballot box.
    – Philipp
    Jun 23 '14 at 0:31
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    And I hear from my Australian friend that the penalty for not voting isn’t sufficient deterrent for some.
    – WGroleau
    Feb 19 at 16:52
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It's quite common to hear calls for non-voters or deliberately invalid votes to be somehow counted or represented but it's difficult to see how this could be implemented in practice.

Think about it this way: If 30% of the seats are left empty, what's difference does it make in practice? There would be fewer MP (so less money for their compensation, staff, etc.) but that's mostly a technical detail. Beyond that, only actual members can vote or participate in coalitions so the same parties would be needed to get a plurality of the vote, pass laws, etc.

Incidentally, parliaments have different sizes so whether there are 300 MP instead of 600 does not sound like a big deal in principle. If your country's parliament has, say, 400 seats and a 60-70% turnout, it would be easy to write a law that says it now has 600 minus the empty seats for non-voters and still go on as before. What would be the point?

The only way in which it could be made to matter is by combining empty seats and a quorum or minimum proportion of seats (and not of actual votes) to take certain decisions. For example, in the German parliament, the chancellor and government have to be approved by what's called a “chancellor's majority” (i.e. an absolute majority of all MP and not merely a majority of the MP that choose to participate in a given vote). Abstaining or not showing up can thus prevent the election. Similarly, many countries have “supermajority” requirements, e.g. to alter the constitution.

If seats could be empty but still count in defining the majority, this would have a very real impact on the parliament but it would also create of huge risk of complete paralysis. That's not a very attractive idea, especially to the people who get to write constitutions so I would be very surprised if it did exist anywhere. I certainly don't know any country like that.

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    Ok, I see the problem with paralysis if seats in the parliament are left empty. But couldn't filling the seats with randomly selected citizens overcome that problem?
    – asmaier
    Dec 14 '14 at 13:26
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    @asmaier You could also fill all seats with randomly selected citizens. There are even a few names for this and related ideas, like “demarchy” and “stochocraty”.
    – Relaxed
    Dec 14 '14 at 23:08
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    If thirty percent don’t vote, then thirty percent of the legislative seats should be an automatic NO on everything. :-)
    – WGroleau
    Feb 19 at 16:50

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