only two lists, or two ballots--the one for the ayes, the other for the noes; I would establish a third, for the neuters.+
But it may be asked, why require a man to vote, whilst he is permitted to give a vote which will have effect neither on the one side nor the other?
It is replied, that a neuter vote subjects the individual who gives it to the judgment of public opinion. By abstaining from voting, he may escape observation, or he may excuse himself upon divers grounds. But admit a neuter vote+ in a case in which the public interest is manifest, the voter cannot withdraw himself from censure--it will exhibit either his crime or his incapacity in as clear a manner as if he had decidedly taken the wrong side.
In cases which admit of honest doubts, the number of neuter votes would serve to enlighten the assembly, by showing that its deliberations had not yet reached maturity.a
THE more numerous an assembly is, the less is it fitted for certain labours. By dividing itself into committees, it multiplies itself--it resolves itself into many parts, each one of which is better calculated to attain a certain object than the whole body would be.
Each committee may be engaged with a different matter. The labour is distributed--progress is accelerated--a degree of attention may be given to all the details of each new project, of which a large assembly would be incapable. This formation of committees, or bureaux,+ is absolutely necessary for the collection of documents--for engaging in those preparatory researches which require that a great number of persons should be heard--for the verification of accounts,--&c. &c.
It is there frequently that the preparation of a law is completed--a species of labour, for which a large assembly is very ill adapted, and which, if attempted in such an assembly, would be attended with a considerable loss of time.____________________
If doubtful, wait,+--is more applicable to matters of legislation than to any others.
Should the neuters+ be the greater number, what ought to be done? Ought not indecision in this case to have the force of a negative?
In a general committee, the neuter vote might be admitted for the purpose of better judging whether the deliberation ought to be continued or adjourned: but it is not necessary: the motion for adjournment supplies its place. All who are undecided have only to support it,+ in order to obtain leisure for the acquisition of new information.