Vote: Not Why, But for Whom?

Like many young millennials , I will be voting for the first time in a few months. I use the verb vote, and not noun. Vote is a noun. It is the act that has taken place after the process. You can use this noun only after the nail on your forefinger has been inked, showing that you did ‘vote’.Voting is a verb. It is a verb in the sense that it’s not the result, but the process of when you decide whom to vote for, what party to choose, and what factors to let influence your choice, rather than simply figuring out why to vote– it is the act of mental contemplation about a string of questions that don’t seem to end.

This is an attempt to understand why I believe that the process of voting is more important than the actual vote and how– through the perspective of a 19 year old– we can make an effectual decision though this process. As a first time voter, I often wonder, “Will my solitary vote make a difference?” Though I saw that many young adults around me had the same question, it did not take long to find the answer. According to ECI (Election Commission of India) data, as of February 10 about 2.6 crore people in the age bracket of 18 to 20 years have already been registered in the electoral rolls, of which 1.38 crore are between the ages of 18 and 19. All our solitary votes take together, truly have the power to decide the course of the country.

As a first-time voter, one often hears advice such as ‘Don’t let your vote go to waste’, from the experienced voters. Their stance is that when one knows which party is going to get a majority, it’s better to vote for it and increase its odds of winning instead of ‘wasting’ the vote on what can be a minority party. This seems very odd considering how contradictory the statement is, as the number of people who might actually want to vote for the likely minority party is not even being considered! More than anything else, this ‘majority-minority’ is a mere manipulation to make voters abandon the power of their vote rather than use it to make a decisive choice.

According to me, votes should be based not just on a mathematical statistic, but on multiple dynamics such as the campaigning of the parties. This is an aspect that obviously cannot be avoided. The parties seem to quite literally paint the town the representative colour of their party symbol. Your decision should definitely not be based on which colour is more abundant, as it is just another play on the unreliable majority-minority status of parties.

Another factor to be considered is the list of goals and promises made by the opposition, and those fulfilled by the ruling party. These facts and lists are easily available and discussed across all news channels, but the sources of information we choose to believe are crucial. Just going by verbal claims is not advisable, and neither are any local news sources owned or run by the local parties. Then where do we get the information needed? Consulting national newspapers like The Hindu and websites Wikipedia that provide credible information on the MLAs and MPs of a party is better rather than just basing our decision on the poster person of the party or the party president. Also, visiting the state websites to know how transparent the government has been in their work can enhance our knowledge.

A rather important factor is your own list of expectations. It is important that you don’t disregard them as mere wishes, and choose parties that have at least 2 points of your agenda in theirs.

Finally– aspect isn’t necessarily a factor, but more of an effort– you need to take the step to get your voter-id card and create awareness around you to encourage others to do the same. The Election Commission has made it possible for us to check our voter identity status online; it takes just a few seconds to open a new tab on Google, to be a responsible citizen. The Election Commission launched a special drive to enroll left out voters with a special focus on first time voters on 1st July, 2017, to move in the direction of Commission’s motto of ‘no voter to be left behind’. With over 180 million people in India on Facebook, the ‘Register Now’ button is designed to encourage Indian citizens to register themselves with the Election Commission of India. On 1st July, a “voter registration reminder” was sent to people on Facebook, who are eligible to vote. The reminder was sent in 13 languages– English, Hindi, Gujarati, Tamil, Telugu, Malayalam, Kannada, Punjabi, Bengali, Urdu, Assamese, Marathi and Oriya.

In summation, though these are rather basic factors that are considered by most voters, as a first-time voter, I view these in a different light in my wish to make an informed and effectual decision– I hope you do as well.

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