The right to vote is the one thing that every member of a democratic society ought to be proud of. It is a right, a privilege and an entitlement that ought not to be taken lightly. In many societies across the world, the freedom of choice and the right to associate has been denied citizens, who more often than not, have to resort to violence to press their claim to have these enshrined in their national constitutions.
It is quite unfortunate that some workers in free and democratic societies sometimes take the right they have to vote for granted. It is equally disgusting that some members of a society would refrain from exercising their right to vote. Granted that there is nothing to make an individual vote, it is left up to the consciousness of the individual, and to the expectation that the individual would act responsibly.
Though it is easy to ridicule and chastise individuals for not casting their vote in an election, it is yet necessary to understand what has contributed to their behaviour. Is it a lack of foresight, frustration, basic ignorance, stupidity or simply complacency? It could be one, all or none of the above. It then follows that this question should be posed… Who is to blame for acts of such folly?
It cannot be that persons are ignorant of the fact that when they do not vote, they are surrendering their right to make a choice. It can hardly be said that this is unknown to persons who live in democratic societies. It is known that in every institution in a democratic society, the election to office whether in a national or general election, organisation, inclusive of the trade union or church or group, the practice is to complete the exercise on the basis of one man, one vote. The command of a majority vote or the first past the poll system has been accepted as the means of determining the individual or political party that has been elected as the preferred choice. Is this not enough reason why an individual should vote?
May be this question needs to be posed – Is the educational system failing the nation in teaching students the importance of voting rights and/or the value of voting? What really is the value of voting? According to Mark E. Smith,
“In a democratic form of government, where power is vested in the hands of the people, voting is the most precious right of all, as it is the way that the people exercise the power vested in them, either directly by voting on issues, budgets, and policies, or indirectly by voting for representatives who are obligated to represent their constituents and can be directly recalled by the people at any time that they fail to represent the people who elected them.”
It may be necessary to impress upon those who don’t exercise the right to vote in a national election or in any other election, that to vote does matter. For what it is worth, we may want to reflect on the struggles of the powerful United States of American, in championing the right of the members of its multi racial society to vote. In the land of the free, the right to vote does matter. Laughlin Mc Donald and Eunice Hyon Min Rho pointed out that:
“Its power lies not only in the practical, in giving people an opportunity to elect candidates of their choosing, but also through the sense of dignity that it gives to those who are able to exercise it. Withholding the right to vote was a reminder to those excluded that they were not whole; they were un-American; they were nobodies. Indeed, throughout our country’s history, the right to vote was denied to white men without property, African Americans, women, Native Americans, Chinese Americans, and adults under 21 years of age.”
Using this as a guide, it is difficult to understand or perceive why any national could reasonably turn his/her back on executing what is a civic responsibility. It is for the adults of this world to play their part in the education of their children or wards, of the value of participating by way of voting in national elections, or election at the level of the workplace or communities organizations. They must impress upon them that to participate is the only way to determine the preferred choice, according to the popular will.
* Dennis De Peiza is a Labour Management Consultant with Regional Management Services Inc.
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