Dropping The Ballot: Are We Really Voting?

Weeks ago we held the election period for our university student council. As it is done every year, I expected nothing less than room-to-room campaigns and other forms of political strategies. As the university student council elections come to a close, and I receive my “oh, you voted” button, I thought about the consequences of the future, not just in my university, but  when leaders need to be reelected once more in all parts of the world.

For one, I didn’t expect this elections to be so controversial. Black propaganda were spread around not only on campus, but also over social media. Nitpicking and specific detail over what happened last week aside, campaigns become more aggressive between the parties and overall, the state university’s elections emulated… well… the national elections here in the Philippines.

Now, I will no longer dwell on the topic of politics in-campus (there are plenty of that already circulating on the internet), so let’s focus on something more general.

Elections come and go in many countries today. Locally, the president’s term is going to be over soon, and even the U.S. is preparing for their next presidential elections. Greece, Nigeria, Israel: all of which have an upcoming election period this year. Britain just held their general elections only days ago. The concept is simple: you take a poll on which candidate the public likes best and put him/her in office.

In theory, it should be so easy. Pick the one you like best. But voting is not as easy as it seems. It gets dirty, sometimes bloody, and often, don’t really reflect the wants of the people governed.

So to the credit of curiosity, I looked into the traditional kind of voting that we employ for, say, presidency which is First Past the Post, wherein the one with the highest votes, wins. It would take me forever to explain these things and I would be explaining this so poorly, since I am not an expert. This CGPGrey video (“The Problems with First Past the Post Voting”) would help in discussing the disadvantages of this voting process.

In theory, we advocate free voting because of the concept of democracy, wherein the people decide their leaders and their nation’s future fate. But there are many aspects that hinder them from choosing properly, such as misinformation about a candidate, or lack of information about the elections, or simply emotional connections from a candidate we see often in the media. Whoever has the most posters and campaign ads, which is a sad thing.

We should be able to speak our minds in voting freely, not hindered by excessive popularity influence, or empty promises and plans that don’t really happen when they are placed in the office. The state of our election process today raises the question of whether the people are really being heard through their votes. Do they vote for the candidate they really see fit to run a state, country, city or nation, or to they vote the one they see over media more?

Over and over we repeat this process as years pass. The same kind of election with different representing faces. As to whether it is really effective, only time will tell.

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