Even if it doesn’t make a difference today, it will make a difference tomorrow
I know that a number of you reading this right now have decided not to vote and I understand why you have made this decision:
“Vote diye ki hobe?”
“It’s the same party that will come to power.”
“My vote will get stolen.”
“Corruption’s still going to continue, irrespective of my vote.”
“I have no one to vote for -- all are the same.”
“There are enough people to vote for me -- my one vote doesn’t matter.”
“I’m afraid to vote. Who knows what’s going to happen?”
I’m sure you’ve heard these statements before, unless you are living in a bubble. These statements, these questions, resonate with a lot of us, questions whose foundations lie in having lost faith that our votes actually matter.
Of course, the years and decades can go by with us not caring to vote. It makes me wonder, what will happen if we continue not to vote?
It makes me wonder whether certain candidates will come into power, based on the votes of people whose lives, families, finances, and futures are dependent on these candidates, of people who are likely, not able to read this article, of people whose sources of information are limited.
Whether these candidates have the merit to be members of parliament, whether they have the country’s and people’s best interests at heart, whether they have the vision of ensuring that a unified Bangladesh, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, can be a developed Bangladesh, is indeed debatable.
It makes me wonder whether a person can make a difference by not voting in this election. While I still believe that it is indeed possible to continue to make a difference even if you do not participate in these elections, I also think that you can indeed make a positive difference by participating in the elections.
Even you do not see this difference today, I believe you play a part in shaping the culture required for a positive difference tomorrow. As long as our governments are selected through an electoral process and we believe that the electoral process should continue in the future, it is important that each and every one of us participates in this election.
Irrespective of whether the elections are rigged or not, I believe that it is still important that each and every citizen exercises their right to vote.
It is easier to understand why one should vote, when the election is not rigged. Your vote counts -- you can elect the candidate who will best represent your constituency in parliament, as well as other relevant spaces.
You can align and rally with other members in your community to ensure that the best candidate gets elected. However, how do we ideally decide on who the best candidate is?
Of course, it is important that you know who the candidates are in your constituency, what their experience and track records are, what their perspectives are on the future of the constituency and country, and what their scope for influence can be once they are elected. It is important that such information is shared actively with all citizens, so that citizens can make an informed choice.
Of course, it is not sufficient if that information is merely presented. That information still has to be interpreted and sound judgment has to be made, based on that information. Given that you are reading this, it is likely that you have a formal education and exposure to various cultures around the world.
Thus, it is likely that you are equipped with the skills to have a more refined power of interpretation. You, as the reader of this article, have the privilege and power to make a wiser choice.
But what happens if the election is rigged? If you don’t vote at all, then you can’t make any claims on whether your vote was actually counted. You can’t make any claims of what happened to your vote at the polling centre.
However, if you (and your community) do vote and then your votes get stolen, then you can make the claim that your votes were indeed tampered with. It is through participating on the day of elections that you can raise your voice to say that this particular election does not work for you.
Otherwise, it is not a matter of whether your vote counted or didn’t count -- you just didn’t show up to vote. Otherwise, you probably won’t even know whether your vote was tampered with or not.
It is important that for those of us who are able to read this, those of us who have invested our time and energy in being educated, that we participate in ensuring that the right candidates represent our constituencies.
Even if you do not have the right candidates today, we can have them tomorrow, but this can only be done if we restore our faith in elections. If we restore our faith in elections and preserve a culture of showing up on elections, we can nudge good candidates to contest in these elections in the future.
We can do this through your active participation in the elections, through your active pursuit in your democratic right -- we can do this through your vote.
So, come vote -- even if it doesn’t make a difference today, it will indeed make a difference tomorrow.
Shakil Ahmed is an educator and futurist.