Tuesday, May 3, 2011

15. Voting Rights

Today I am nurturing my gratitude for the ability to vote, as I come off voting for the federal elections.

Voting is truly a privilege that people ought to feel thankful for. There are few things I feel strongly about, and over the years, voting has become one of them. In a world where the written letter has the final word, casting your vote represents your voice, your choice, your presence, your essence. I know many people think that one vote does not make a difference, and that apathy plays a role in voter turnout, however, consider this: If you know of two people who are apathetic towards voting, then chances are those two people will know of four people (two per person) who might not vote. So now there's six people, or six potential votes missing. And thus, missed votes build on exponentially, kind of like compound interest. As for last night's election, the "majority" government only had about 40% of the popular vote, meaning 40% of the actual votes cast. On the other hand, about 61% of voters turned out to vote. Those 61% of voters gave the New Democrats almost three times the number of seats they have held in Parliament, almost decimated another political party, and led to the resignation of two political leaders. The best part is probably no individual person had seen the results forthcoming, but as a collective, history was made.

Why else should one be thankful about the ability to vote? Who votes determines how much money is allocated by the government. We all hear about how resources are strained, and money is tight in the fiscal budget, especially given our recessionary climate, but chances are the government will spend more money, or rather make the necessary budget allocation, in those sectors that directly benefit the largest demographic of voters. This really at the end of the day is in a hope to secure more votes for the ruling party in future elections. So students, if you are wondering why your tuition is on the rise, and scholarship funds are dwindling, one thing to consider might be what the student voter turnout is at elections.

If economics and financial incentives are not enough to convince a voter to vote, perhaps human rights will. There are countries in the world, at this very moment, where people or certain genders, are not allowed to vote. Those people probably desperately want to vote, but cannot, under threat of punishment, or even death. And here we are, living in a country, with the full rights and privileges of being able to vote.

So, voting is not just about putting a cross on a piece of paper, it is about enacting your right, it is about saying 'Thank You' for that right, regardless of whether the party you voted for came into power or not.

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