02 February 2012

The right to suffrage

One of the significant things we did last year as residents of New Zealand was to vote.  I think it is monumental by itself because we were thus recognized as part of the community, and that we have been given the opportunity to have a voice in the 2011 elections.

Of course, one cannot help but to compare the campaign and voting process with his native country.

In the Philippines, campaigns involve sticking loads of posters on walls and giving out pamphlets with a list of the party members.  There is also the 'miting de avance' where the political parties visit towns to announce their platform of government and hopefully win the favour of the people.  This is usually accompanied with entertainment by celebrities and artists (I think this is the reason why there is really a fine line between politics and showbiz).  Here in New Zealand (in our side of town at least), campaigns are more subtle.  Bulletin boards are also visible, but they are staked to the ground, on land visible to the public (such as roadsides).  Either that, or people hold placards on streets.  There are also meetings but not with fanfare, and is usually held in the community centre in a classroom setting.

The manner of voting itself is different.  We went to the voting precinct and five minutes later, we were out in the park enjoying the morning sun.  We simply went in, surrendered the voter's ID which we received by mail a couple of weeks back, then we were given the ballot where we ticked the name of our Party of choice, our preferred representative, and our choice in the voting referendum.  We dropped it in the ballot box, then took a couple of stickers which aim to encourage your friends to vote too (when they see that you've voted).

In the Philippines, one also goes to the voting precinct (such as the school), but since there are lots more people, then looking for your name in the correct classroom can take time.  On the average, we look for our names in at least three lists before finding it.  We then sign beside our name, then sit for a writing session for we have to write down the name of all the people we are voting for, from the Congressman, to the Mayor, to the Kagawads.  And then we get marked with indelible ink on our thumb.  We try to hurry home to remove it but of course this is not possible as you would most likely meet someone along the way and make small talk for a while.  Voting does not really take as long as it looks.  Half an hour or so is good, unless you can't find your name.

With voting such a relatively painless process, it just makes me wonder why some people complain about lots of stuff - government included - but then they do not act on even the most basic thing they can do - the right to vote.  But some people say they weighed their options and saw nothing to persuade them to vote, and so they don't.  Well. that's their right too I guess.  Though I would think a better approach would be to see which party or person you most dislike, and vote for the contender.  You cannot help switch the balance of power by not doing anything.

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