Do your duty, register as a voter

IN a democracy, power lies with the people as they elect their representatives. Voting is a chance for every eligible citizen to be heard. More than a right, voting is a duty.

But how far can a vote go? And this feeling of scepticism is not always unfounded as cash handouts are not unfamiliar especially when an election draws near.

Given the perceived nature of elections, it is not a question that people seem to be uninterested to vote. The ballot then appears to be meaningless for the result is believed to be predetermined.

But if that is the case, if there is not a glimmer of hope that a power shift could take place, then why are politicians across the spectrum investing their time, energy and money to win the people's hearts? This tells us that people's votes do matter.

Assuming that the practice of democracy – particularly elections – is observed in a free but not fair manner, at the very least, every eligible citizen should put the vote to use. A single vote might be dismissed as insignificant, but the essence of democracy lies in the collective power, determined by each and every vote. The candidate we voted for might not win, but voting for the person whom we trust to be able to represent us expresses our sense of responsibility.

However, with scepticism as the biggest hurdle, it is a challenge to make people see voting as a responsibility. But the people are not solely to blame for thinking that voting is a farce.

Such thinking is partly rooted in their perception of how the government is run. If the people are informed of important national matters, their level of trust would increase, subsequently convincing them to vote. The calculation is not as simple considering other factors, but upholding integrity is one way of making people want to vote. In doing so, a few matters need to be straightened out.

To keep elections clean, we need candidates who are clean. Without fear or favour, shady candidates should be scrutinised, and weeded out. This is where the integrity of the powers that be is put to test. In a mature politics, the interests of all the people come first. When citizens see this happening they will be encouraged to cast their vote.

But the people cannot be passive either; they need to exert pressure on the authorities to see that the required action is taken. It is not suggested that people rebel against the authorities; rather, it is about optimising the right that the people have over having the right candidates working for them.

Other than equipping ourselves with information about the people running our affairs, we should use the opportunity to choose our representatives based on their social, economic and political aspirations, and, of course, their track record. There is no guarantee that our candidates will win, but voting itself is a manifestation of power of the people.

Citizens should never underestimate their power, which grows stronger when people come together.