THE AMERICAN NOTEBOOK
By Asif Jamal
One of the major differences among the developed and under-developed countries is the â€˜exercise to voteâ€™, where people are conscious enough to assimilate the power they have. They apply the power of vote very carefully and cast in favor of those who they trust while the public office seekers merely rely on their votes and do their best to justify their candidacy.
I am sure at this point in age, at least people in the modern world understand what really election is and the kind of power it contains. As such, election is a formal decision-making method that people elects a person who is eligible to hold a public office to manage the civic matters that pertains to those living in that particular area. It is a structure that has been in function since the modern democratic era of 17th century. This process is not only in practice to seek public offices but other private associations, clubs and general businesses.
The election process have been in practice since ancient Greece and ancient Roman era and Medieval period where those inhabitants used to elect their leaders and heads through the voting system. Even in the ancients Arab era, there were elections when people chose their caliphs however, the modern election started as I mentioned earlier, in the early 17th century, so election is not a new phenomenon rather an old conscientious reliable practice to better find a representative best suitable for a public office who has a consensus and mass majority of that area trusts him for the services.
In the USA, elect means to choose or make a decision but a country like Pakistan where half the population donâ€™t even understand what election really is and how it can affect them. One can easily relate to this ignorance with lack of education but ignorance is no longer a permanent blessing.
I was trying to ponder much on the subject that why people donâ€™t vote in Pakistan when I saw a posting on Facebook drew my attention, eulogizing a reason that â€œone of the main reasons of the low voter turnout in the 2007 General Elections was due to the inefficient voting registration mechanism by the Election Commission of Pakistan. They also failed to provide assistance in voter registration which played a huge role in the low voter turnout last time. So instead of relying on a bunch of tea sipping lazy brats, you can spread the word yourself online and get people aware and at the ballot box on Vote Day. Donâ€™t let these crooks fool you anymore. It doesnâ€™t matter where you are in Pakistan or in the world, you can get your vote registered and itâ€™s simple!â€
Well, this message is indeed a bit of an inspiration to those who are educated living within Pakistan or may be elsewhere outside the country where absentee ballots are permitted but again, looks like we miss the main crux here that there are over 70 percent of population still living in the rural setup where their respective lords donâ€™t let those poor raise their voice over thus, their votes are cast on the basis of how a feudal-lord thinks and not how inhabitants of that particular regions want. As their needs are limited to day to day essentials so they donâ€™t even get to a point where it matters to them as to who really is in the power and so forth. Their main target is to fulfill the basic necessity of life
However, besides illiteracy, there may be various other reasons that why many donâ€™t exercise their power of vote as to some, perhaps feel that their vote makes no difference and their vote has no value. Some may be too lazy to make a trip to the polling station or get in the line just to cast their vote for someone they have not even met or know or may be having a bitter or otherwise opinion against the governments.
Nevertheless, if someone doesnâ€™t like any candidates, and he still wants to exercise his power of vote, should still be able to go and cast the vote and check mark the box saying none of the above but there no such box of this sort, the Election Commission of Pakistan didnâ€™t leave any such box to check but this kind of option is not available in any ballot paper in the world so if a person who understands the kind and type of candidates he is dealing with, has only two choices, either to cast the vote or not, but by not doing so, he will lose an opportunity of raising his voice at all. As it is not possible that all the office seekers are not trustworthy on the same scale, there has to be a system to judge the intensity of them being not capable! As they say, if everyone is worst, then try to find someone who is just bad, which is better than being worst. Though there may be some who may think that no I will not vote any lesser-evil, as evil is an evil.
But things are changing, nation is getting geared up and getting awareness about the power they have. It is the power that can change today for a better tomorrow, all it requires to put the fear aside and rise against a tyrant and speak the truth on the ballot papers. No excuse is a permanent excuse. Solution lies within oneself. If a nation is seeking a powerful country, a brighter tomorrow then, education is the answer that opens up a horizon. Though it is already late, but it is never too late to understand the power of vote.
â€“ To participate in this column or for comments and suggestions, you may reach the scribe via email at firstname.lastname@example.org & follow him on Twitter @AsifJamalNY