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Voter Apathy

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There is no doubt that voter apathy in exercising the right to vote is a major impediment to obtaining truly representative verdicts. If only around 55 to 60 percent of registered voters choose to select their government (which is, ironically, considered a healthy turnout), it means that a significant section of the population is indifferent to its fate. This is a major lag when it comes to creating a consensus on development, as those in power cannot gauge what exactly the people want. This results in reform measures being ambushed by ‘invisible’ constituencies, as happened in the case of the farm laws.

Part of the reason why the voters go missing is that a large number live away from their homes. In the present era of technology, this should not be an impediment and ways should be devised for secure online voting. In the meanwhile, they should be encouraged to return to where they are registered and vote, so that they have no reason to complain afterwards. In a number of cases, there is complacency among voters in the belief that their preferred candidate is winning anyway. Quite often, they get a nasty shock when the results are announced. Happily, owing to efforts made by the Election Commission, various governments and civil society, the voting percentage has risen, but not enough. In fact, a healthy turnout is actually considered the result of a ‘wave’ or ‘anti-incumbency’.

In many cases, the apathy is the result of disillusionment with the system. Having seen governments come and go, people feel they make no difference to their lives. So why vote? This overlooks the fact that democratic governments, incompetent as they maybe, are better than any other kind (as Winston Churchill pointed out). People who have not experienced the ‘other kind’ naturally overlook this hidden threat. In the present day and age of readily available news and information, they only need to look at what’s happening in other countries to realise how much better off they are. Eventually, they can hold governments accountable and even overthrow them by merely walking to the voting booth on election day. By not voting, they also allow minority opinion that is better mobilised to hijack the mandate. As such, they should value their own opinion and make it known when the time comes. People who desire a healthy and active democracy should ensure they participate with the required enthusiasm and purpose.