Why We Must All Vote!
Voting is one of the fundamental ways in which our inalienable rights are guaranteed. Our vote determines how Parliament acts in our interest, and how and who will shape the public policy of the country, at least for the next five years. Public policy in turn, shapes the economy, education, transport, health, security, etc. of our nation.
If done right, public policy can determine Sri Lanka’s trajectory in the third decade of the new millennium. If, on the other hand, public policy is not shaped right, it can further plunge the nation into dire economic and social peril. Therefore, it is the civic responsibility of every citizen of the country to exercise their universal franchise, to ensure a properly elected Parliament.
Unless we take part in the democratic processes, we cannot, effectively observe and criticise the policy makers. If they make bad decisions, if they act in detriment to the people’s interest, if they misuse people’s sovereignty, we have no right to point a finger and say, “We didn’t elect you to act in this manner.”
It is true that the interest in the election has waned in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. But, today we are a nation at crossroads. It is the time that we need our elected representatives to formulate social and economic policies to navigate us through this crisis. The pandemic is far from over. Some countries in the world are going through the second wave of infections. Some are even facing the third wave, like in the case of Hong Kong.
Yet, the world has already changed. How we work, travel, shop and engage in educational activities and many other aspects of life have irrevocably changed. We are in the new normal. We need to formulate new laws, new policies to wade through this crisis and face the challenges that may come in the next few months of this year.
In order to do that, we need to have a functioning Legislature. All fiscal matters of the Government are exclusively decided by the Legislature. Therefore, we need Legislators to formulate the expenditure for the next few months, and then next year.
As Asia’s oldest democracy, in terms of universal suffrage, which was granted to us by the Donoughmore Constitution in 1931, we have a long history of electing Governments. Even during the 30 years of devastating war, two insurrections, natural disasters, terror attacks, we continuously held elections.
There are few fundamental reasons why we must exercise our right to vote.
Elections have consequences. How we vote in a particular election decides on the quality of life we want for us and the future generations. Voting is our chance to stand up for the issues we care about like public transportation, rising cost of living or funding for health and education. This is about our lives – we should take the time to decide what’s best.
Not voting is giving up your voice. Elections are decided by the people who go out and vote. We must take some time to learn about the policies of different political parties and their candidates. If we don’t vote, someone else will make the decision for us. Our power is in our vote.
It’s our money. We all pay taxes, directly or indirectly. All the items we consume are subject to taxes - food, medicines, telecommunication services, etc. But, do we know how that money is being used by the authorities? Many of us don’t know what becomes of the money we pay to the Government as taxes. Voting is our chance to choose how our tax money is spent.
Voting is an opportunity for change. Voting gives us the chance to make a change. If we do not agree with the policies of an incumbent Government, elections give us the opportunity to change our policymakers. The power to change Governments is in our hands. We can support the candidates and measures that can help our community and the nation for the greater good.
The next generation depends on you. Our communities are made up of both adults and children. It is our responsibility to make sure that our children will inherit a better country and a better society than what we have to live in today. How we can ensure that is by voting in a Government that would implement policies that safeguard our environment, stabilise our economy and ensure security of our country and its people.
The Government has already formulated health guidelines to be followed during the election process – from the polling booth until the election results are released. The safety of the voters is guaranteed. What we now need to do is make it to the polling centres as early as possible and exercise our franchise.
We cannot hold our people’s representatives accountable, if we did not participate in the process to elect them. It is as simple as that.