During any major elections, like the 2012 US Presidential race, campaigning often goes down to the wire, with the Presidential candidates jetting across the United States to meet potential voters and convince them to vote in their favour. It is an arduous, near impossible task, every candidate, be they running for a local council, Congress or even the White House knows that trying to squeeze in a couple of hundred of extra votes on election day may make the difference, even though on paper perhaps, dozens of votes may seem insignificant.
Of course they aren’t and be it those very presidential candidates glad-handing and kissing babies on the last day of their campaigns or a couple of teenagers running for their college prefect, the importance of a vote, that is a singular, lone vote is not lost upon anybody. And neither should it be on you.
As the key to the democratic system, voting represents a right of self-determination, a right of autonomy, a right given to all to help them determine their own futures and of course that of their nation’s as well. Voting steers the course of a nation’s future and while regarded as some collective act, voting, at the end of the day, is entirely personal, entirely individual.
This very fact is known quite well to those who are after your vote, the politicians, the senators, the members of parliament, all know that every single last vote counts and thus, until the very end, they are pounding the pavement, on the hunt for even that vote that may determine their success.
This alone means that every individual holds the power within themselves to determine what their future and their country’s future will be, it is a fait accompli. But increasingly it has been noticed that individuals have grown increasingly unaware of this power they possess, even going so far as to forego this right.
With elections nigh upon Pakistan, with only weeks left to go, campaigning has picked up and every speech, every poster, every banner is meant to speak to the masses, it is meant to speak to the individual.
But media coverage of the run up to the 2013 elections has shown that there is an increasing trend among many Pakistani voters to simply refuse to vote. This, justifiably has been borne from previous elections where various instances of election fraud have left citizens disgruntled and disillusioned, but to simply refuse to vote shows an antipathy to the future, even their own.
Not voting demonstrates helplessness, almost showing that the people are resigned to their fate. Of course some may argue that they do not feel that any of the political parties represent them and to this, and quite fittingly, the Election Commission of Pakistan (ECP) this time decided to enter an extra option on the ballot papers, that is the ‘None of the Above’ option, which allows voters to abstain from voting but still make sure their voices are heard.
Even in this, citizens can show that their voice matters, that even a single abstention, if they decide to do so, will be registered and heard.