••• The International Writers Magazine - Our 20th Year: Why you should Vote!
The Importance of Voting in a Truly Democratic Society
Adewale T. Akande
In a true democratic society, it is essential to ensure a government that follows the will of the people and not the one that force the people to follow it, that is, a “government of the people, by the people, and for the people” as said by Abraham Lincoln in his Gettysburg address which lasted a little over two minutes on November, 19, 1863.
Democracy is not government of some people by some people and for some people as a frequent practise in some developing nations. Democracy is a nation ruled by its citizenry. The beauty of democracy is that the minority will have their say but the majority will have their way. Functioning democracy implies where the people approve to the government operating the nation. All eligible voters are given chance to select their leader through their right to vote and to be voted for. In a truly democratic society, the representative or candidate who have been elected are liable in many ways to the people who voted and elected them. They have to implement those pledges made during elections with much transparency, accountability and good governance.
The basic principles of a democratic government include; the rule of law that nobody and no authority is higher than the law of the land, all fundamental rights such as freedom of speech and expressions, freedom of religion and conscience, freedom of assembly and civil liberties are assured and guaranteed to all citizens in the country, citizens rights cannot be infringed upon by anybody. independence of the judiciary, seperation of powers and check and balances of all the public authorities, transparency of the government to the citizens about its functions and programmes, periodic free and fair elections to be conducted by an independent electoral body, recognition that citizens have a right and a responsibility to play a part in government and in social community, a multiple political system with equality of opportunities, opinion, ideas and prospects that will benefit all the citizens and not only selected fews as seen in some developing countries of Africa.
Voting dates back to elections held in ancient Greece, ancient Rome and throughout the Medieval period. It is a right that, throughout history, our founding fathers have fought for and sacrificed everything to achieve. “One man - one vote” is the most fairest method to choose leaders in any democratic society. Voting is patriotic right to choose your representative government. A citizen's vote is a secret ballot. Voting is the most important exercise a citizen will do as a responsible citizen of a democratic nation. In a functioning democracy, being able to vote allows citizens to express their political opinions by voting a particular policy or candidate that has your best interest in mind. By this, you can decide your very own future by opting a candidate who might speculate your own aspects and possibly those people who share the same opinion with you.
Voting is a right of all eligible voters in any country. It is seen as the normal or typical form of political activity and it remains the primary means of political participation. The goal of any voting system is to establish the intent of each individual voter and translate those intents into a final tally or reality. According to Abraham Lincoln; “No man is good enough to govern another man without that other's consent” This further explains that in a truly democratic society, governments are instituted among qualified and responsible men who derive their just powers from the consent of the governed. Another ex-American president, Lyndon Johnson had this to say in support of Abraham Lincoln that “The right to vote is the most basic right, without which all others are meaningless”. Voting is the first duty of democracy. Government is based on citizens votes for representation. In a democracy, your vote is your voice and the act of standing up for what you believe. Voting helps to preserve our way of ife.
In a perfect democracy, voting is the opportunity to elect or re-elect government officials and allows you to have a voice at any level of government and the areas that affect the life of citizens. Voting helps to eliminate the threat of a tyrannical government. A vote cast today have a way of having impact to the present and future generations that follow. The responsibility to be a good citizen, and citizenship requires voting during an election. Voting gives the population an equal opportunity completely blind of sex, race, origin, education in contributing to community development. This explains the argument that without freedom of information, our choices are distorted. Voting helps to shape public policy on a local and national level especially when you a well informed about the government activities. Voting for a candidate with little or no chance of winning or for the lesser of two evils is both a priviledge and obligation in a democratic republic.
Voting is gathering of human experiences in determine the future of a particular nation. Voting in an election shows your commitment and care about your community, by this, you become engage with diverse people of the society and the activities of the nation in general. Voting is the best way to influence the nation in which we live. Your vote holds your state and national leaders responsible for the decisions they make. Voting gives true meaning to the immortal words of Abraham Lincoln that “You can fool some of the people all of the time and all the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time”. Eligible and responsible voters always take their time, to read the parties programmes and agendas, study the candidates ideas, integrity, capabilities, personal records, their future plans and how they stand on public issues.
Moreover, it is always advisable to vote for credible people or candidates and not political parties as this determines the faith of the nation. It is the law of the nature that those who vote for a candidate for money, out of anger, ignorance, race, sex or ignorance will surely get what they voted for. The result is inept and corrupt leaders and politicians. The positive impact of eligible voters in electoral process make voting important. A country's democracy and people's choice depends on voting. So we should take the initiative to vote for someone that reflects our overall views. Your vote affirms your rights as free citizens to elect your representative and take part in democracy. The truth is that your vote counts and it can make a difference every time you cast your vote.
Without voting, definitely, there will be no democracy to talk about. Voting help to us to have new set of people representing us with fresh new ideas to help heal the damage that their predecessors have done.
Meanwhile, on the other hand a citizen that just decides not to vote without resonable reason is a plain ignoramus. Apathy to voting may be due to lack of willingness or illiteracy. Inaction does not breed change, but only worsen the situation. The citizens apathy or laziness to show up and make their votes count frequently leads to a nation in a very vulnerable and perilous position due to incompetent and irresponsible leaders. If you don't vote during an election, you are surely voting indirectly against democracy and making way for irresponsible leaders. By not voting, you give away your right to influence the government overall. According to Smithstein 1, if you decide not to vote, you are taking away the “...will of the majority that governs...., but replaces it with the will of the minority”. It is essential that registering and voting are really ways that we can control the way we live in a democratic dispensation. The sheer volume of non-voters simply destroy democratic process making it gradually slip away. Your only vote can make a difference because many local elections can be decided by just a single, solitary vote or handful of votes. If you don't vote, it encourages bad officials. Voting is the formost way to exhibit good citizenship and civil responsibility. People should get involved in elections and educated in all political measures. By this they become a good and responsible participatory citizens. We should always remember that some people sacrifice their lives to preserve our freedom and let us have this voting opportunity as our sacred right. True democracy demands the involvement of the people otherwise in absence of that there is no democracy.
© Adewale T Akande, Feb 21st 2019
Author, Educationist and Road Traffic Safety Researcher,
University of Autonoma, Barcelona.
Spain. Tel: +34632511469