Wednesday, May 12, 2004

We survived the actual election day but now I learn....

It could take a month to count all the votes (handwritten ballots, individually counted, cheating galore).

On the evening of the election there was already a demonstration forming by one camp saying that the election was tainted because with -less than 1% of the vote counted- he wasn't being reported as ahead. I'll let you know what's going on at the end of the month.
Ian did make it home safely and stated that being an election observer is one of the dullest jobs around. I don't know that I agree with him though. His stories about being pointed out, whispered about and having a an order made to fix the commode because there was an observer present sure made it sound exciting.
I'd like to say something about the election. Yes, this society and the politics that run it are dirty. They are liars and cheats, whiners and just plain mean. They bribe voters with money stapled to prefilled sample ballots (just copy and go!). Some even bribed with candy taped to trading cards emblazoned with scary images of the candidates with catchphrases like "Advocator for Godly Righteousness." I told you they played dirty.
The people who vote are simultaneously at both ends of the spectrum. They know their governement is corrupt. They know that nothing will change. And yet, they go out to vote. It's standard in this nation of about 80million people (based on 1995 census projections) made up mostly of those who live in poverty, for 80% of the population to vote. OK, granted there is bribery, ballot stuffing, burned ballots and ballots papering the streets, but these people are still voting. Theirs just might be one of the ones that make it to an actual counting room and make a difference.
What are our rates in the United States? Less than 50% across the board.
I realize we have some apathy going on. But really, when our votes COUNT. When our votes can literally change the world. When our votes matter and we can see how our lives change over the years as our leaders change... why don't more of us vote?
I have one simple suggestion that I think the Filipinos got right. They know the importance of the vote, even if at this time it's in name only and nothing good comes of these popularity contests called elections. The people believe in the process, they believe in the effort and they believe that their vote counts. Imagine if we had the same belief. Even "just" 80% of us. What did the Filipino do right to get that sort of number out to the polling places?
Election Day is a national holiday.
I know what election day is like at home. Does any of this sound familiar? I'll try to get up earlier to go before work. Can I run in quick during lunch? Oh the line is too long. After work I'm too tired. It's raining. The kids won't stand in line for it. And the best one, my vote doesn't count so it doesn't matter if I go or not.
I suggest that every 2 years when the big national elections come up, that it's not just the kids who get a day off. Proclaim it a national holiday so there is no excuse because there is no question why you're home. Give the day the importance it deserves and focus on what exactly you're doing and realize your role is every aspect of your lives. The school council makes the decisions that affect your kids. The President makes the decisions that affect our nation and the rest of the world.
Is it time we realized that it's worth it to go out and make ourselves heard? And isn't it time our own government acknowledges the importance of giving us no excuses not to make ourselves heard?

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