Conversation between two friends.
X: It’s my day off from work today.
Y: Same here. My company doesn’t work on election day.
X: Lunch at my place?
Y: Shall we just meet up in the evening? I’m planning to cast my vote in the noon, so I won’t be free till the evening.
X: Big deal! As if your one vote is going to make a difference.
Does this conversation sound familiar to you? Have you ever thought that, it isn’t a big deal if just one person doesn’t vote? But, what if thousands of other people thought the same way? Wouldn’t it make a difference then?
Apart from the people who think of this day as just another public holiday to rest at home or meet up with friends, what might be the other reasons for people to restrain from voting by will?
In a recent focus group study we asked people to state the challenges that they face while voting, and why they restrain from voting at times. Here’s what they said,
Christina Simon a dentist by profession stated “I don’t like that black ink on my hand, UNAESTHETIC”.
“No proper toilet facilities” mentioned by a college student.
Tina Sunny a student, said “The pain of having to wait in a Long queue”.
In situations such as these, where trivial issues cause people to restrain from voting, one needs to understand how important a duty it is for every citizen to vote. Understanding the seriousness of the issue will enable people to overcome and look past these insignificant issues and understand the role they play in choosing the leaders who lead their nation.
Let’s look at some other challenges that were faced,
A 21 year old student “most important problem while voting, you don’t know whom to vote for, because you don’t know any of them”
“You should have clear information about the party’s work in the past and what they claim to improve or change in their manifesto for the future” – Abhijit, 24 years.
Knowledge can be gained through various sources such as the internet, from news channels on television and newspapers .Informed decision making can take place. In the above views shared by people, one of the issues highlighted was that, the public did not possess knowledge about the parties or candidates and therefore restrained from voting. One must again understand that these challenges can be easily overcome. All one needs to do is spend some time and gain knowledge about the candidates or parties standing for the election through various sources.
“Main problem is there is no one worthy enough to be voted for”-27 year old professor.
After being aware of all the candidates, and yet if people are dissatisfied they have the option of voting for NOTA, i.e. None of the Above(section 49O), an option that allows the public to not support any of the parties or candidates.
There are some more challenges that emerged out of this study, which made voting complicated for certain people. They were:
“My hometown is conoor, I’m staying in Chennai and I can’t vote in Chennai”-25 year old charted accountant.
“Personally I don’t believe in voting because they promise things just for the vote and post elections, they show their back and walk off. It’s a total waste and at the end of the day we don’t get anything in return for what we are doing,” stated a 21 year old accountant.
For issues such as these, people can seek help from appropriate government authorities and forums for such issues and try to get relevant solutions and answers, towards fulfilling their duty as a responsible citizen. Here’s some info about one such helpline that could be of help in voting related woes.
Therefore, when there is a will, there is always a way to overcome challenges. We are a part of the largest democracy in the world, where the government is of, for and by the people. It is a two way process, and will work only if there is effective participation and fulfilment of duties from both ends, and when, both the people and the government play a responsible and more inclusive role in sustaining and nurturing the democracy.
So let us fulfil our duty and make use of this privilege. Try not to be that one person who thinks that their vote will not make a difference. Be the inspiration, for bringing a sense of belonging and responsibility towards the country. Change and also bring about a change in others by setting an example and casting your vote.
Voting is your right, vote for the right!