VOTE! Have I stressed enough?
Ink that finger this 2019 election.
There is a segment of population who genuinely cast their vote while some may sit back and relax during this period of time. With one of the most important elections coming up in 2019, you shall be surprised by the number of people who stay ignorant, as the elections come and go, without half the population in the city not bothered about the election itself or the outcome. In the 2014 elections, about 23 million of the total eligible voters were 18-19 years, and the election turnout in total was 66.38%, which is the highest ever in the history of Indian general elections. Of course, this is higher than the turnout in the 2009 elections which was 59.7% and that’s remarkable, but that STILL means that less than half the population did not vote in the 2009 or 2014 elections.
Is this because people are not or don’t want to be politically aware? Ask a random teenager which serial Smriti Irani acted in and 80% of them would know the answer, but ask them which ministry she heads, they would probably turn to google. Why don’t people vote and WHY is it so important to do so?
I guess the fault does not lie entirely with the teenagers themselves. When loads of unnecessary, celebrity and gossip driven content is thrown at us, and marketed so aggressively, it becomes understandably hard to focus our attention on things that actually hold some weight. Tabloids and blogs gain attraction in a heartbeat, but news outlets that accurately fact check have to work twice as hard to gain attention of the viewers. Ultimately, it becomes absolutely imperative that teenagers take responsibility and take matters into their own hands and watch the news to stay updated about what is happening in the world. That is the first step.
Statistics say that people who are educated are more likely to vote, yet most of the ignorance about the voting is widespread among the educated section, because they want to stay ignorant. You could blame the ‘education system’ and the ‘state of the economy’, if an alms seeker doesn’t feel the need to vote, but what excuse does a sitting-comfortably-under-a-roof-choosing-to-be-ignorant person have? Ultimately the same person would blame the ‘education system’ and ‘state of the economy’ on the government knowing quite well that in this democracy, the power lies with the people. Being aware and staying aware is key, and it may sound simple, but it is a promising start. The time has come to start taking Political ignorance seriously.
Why should you vote?
(a) Even if you are unhappy with the candidates standing – the government has made a provision for you. Vote NOTA, which stands for None of the Above, if you do not want to vote for the parties standing. No, this is NOT the same as not voting. Voting NOTA shows that you think that none of the candidates are good enough. NOTA votes are counted, but in case of a majority of NOTA, then the party with the next majority will come to power. (which I agree, makes no sense and NOTA majority should call for re-election.)
(b) Voting is your right – India is a democracy, and the constitution is built on this fact. This democracy is of the people, for the people and by the people, and we as a people matter, and voting is our constitutional right. To appreciate the power that we have, to elect whom we want, to have the authority to make a change is crucial and it is highly essential that we DO NOT take this for granted.
(c) The attitude of “My vote does not make a difference” must change. The odds that your vote will decide the outcome are infinitesimally small, but you form the section of voters and you form a small but important part of a collective politically aware society. The responsibility lies in your hands so make the most of it.
(d) We have had a tough history and we have a democracy for a reason. We struggled to win our freedom and we have our voting rights because of our fighters. What the fighters envisioned for India is our right to choose, and our right to decide who is best equipped to lead the country. Honoring and respecting our freedom fighters by voting is extremely important.
(e) If you do not want the same party ruling for the next 5 years, then do something about it! Voting is the closest option you have to make a change, and in the end if a country is stuck with a non-functional government, the people are partly to blame as they either voted wrong or did not vote at all.
How do these elections work?
In case you need a recap of your civics textbook, there are 2 houses of the Parliament- Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. The Lok Sabha is the lower house, and the elections to the Lok Sabha take place every 5 years – the house has 545 members. The Rajya Sabha is the upper house, and they are elected by members of the state Legislative Assemblies and the Electoral college. They are indirectly elected by the people and the house has 245 members out of which 233 members are elected for 6 years. the PM is elected by the members of the Lok Sabha, and the President is elected by the State Legislatures and the Federal Legislatures.
How do I vote?
(a) You need to first be registered on the Electoral roll, which makes you an eligible voter. You can apply online or at Voter Registration and Epic Centres.
(b) You will be given a voter ID which will have to be presented at the polling booth.
(c) The citizen must be aware of the candidates contesting and where the polling booth is, in their respective constituencies.
(d) Voting is done on Electronic Voting Machines.
(e) Citizens must familiarize themselves with the symbols of the candidates in case they do not speak the state language, as the names of the parties will be written in the official language of the state, in alphabetical order.
(f) You will receive a mark of ink on your finger that shows that you voted.
(g) It not only helps to identify if you have voted, but also is a proud symbol for you to bear.
When one has the power to vote i.e. when one turns 18, his/her interest in politics should ideally peak. A dialogue on voter registration should run parallel to a dialogue on who leaders in the local area are, and why they deserve or why they don’t deserve votes. The only time local leaders even interact with their audience is probably through hoardings or bus stops. Leaders should take to social media to communicate with their audiences and explore newer platforms to engage with the younger generation. Even though it is supremely essential that young voters research about the candidates, the contestants should also find new ways to influence the voter because the era of fake promises in a speech is over and people are now capable of seeing through the façade.
Voting is the best way to exercise your right and the best way to make a change. Our government structure is quite unique – we can elect locally, and hope that effect of ours resonates with the rest of the country, nationally, as the governments we elect today, may stay and affect the functioning of the country in a good or bad way for probably the next decade or so.
Young voters in all probability neglect the importance of voting even though key issues in this economy require young voters to participate and give them a chance to leave a mark. This is urgent and it is the need of the hour. Millennials, I implore you – for the sake of our country – please vote.
This is a website to get yourself registered online - https://www.nvsp.in. You shall find the link to application form on the home page. For the First time voters or change in constituency, Form 6 needs to be filled up. The process is easy and quick.
Thank you for reading, and please, please vote!
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