Every vote has more power than you might think. When you don’t vote, you’re giving away an opportunity to make yourself heard. Your vote is essentially your voice. Elected leaders and policy makers often have vote numbers in mind when making key decisions. If you still think your vote doesn’t count, you might want to consider these:
You can use your vote to seek change. Complaining or silently enduring about how leaders are running the country does not make the problems go away. While voting does not guarantee a win the candidates you support, it gives voice to the issues that you may want policy makers to focus on. A voting public is a catalyst for change. Your vote can add to the numbers. And you can trust politicians to pay attention to those numbers.
You can use your vote to support policies. Leaders are more compelled to act on policies if people who support them exercise their right to vote. Many politicians who may be thinking of running for reelection or staying in office for more than one term are more likely to act with a higher number of voters at stake. Voter participation can be a gauge of how policy makers will decide. If you want to influence key decisions, you have to let your vote be counted.
Your vote can get politicians working. If you look at demographics, those with higher voter participation are more likely to get politicians working on the policies they support. It may not guarantee that issues will be addressed according to voters’ preferences. But you can trust politicians to factor in the turnout in assessing the level of support they got and should try to retain from a certain demographic. For this reason, they may try to work on policies that they know would earn them the support they need.
Your vote gives you a voice. Voting is not only about the people who will potentially run the government. It is also about letting your voice be heard on the issues and policies that matter to you. It allows you to make a choice on who you want to have the power to make the changes you want to see.
If you think strategic voting is too complicated, think again. You don’t have to be a political savvy voter to become more tactical in your approach to choosing candidates during elections. A strategic vote is better than voting at random or as a show of support to parties or candidates that may not even have the slightest chance of winning. It requires an objective viewpoint and compromises for a better outcome or the greater good.
Focus on the outcome
You are a strategic voter if you focus on the outcomes. Aim for objectivity above all else when assessing the chances of your choice winning the candidacy. If the candidate you are supporting is trailing at the get go, it may be time to start reviewing your options. Take a long and hard look to the available choices you have. Imagine them winning the election. What would be the least acceptable result for you? Choosing another candidate that is the most viable option given the circumstances is a form of strategic voting.
Use whatever influence you have
Make peer pressure work for you. Use your influence to encourage family, friends, and others in your social circle to vote for the candidates you are rooting for. It is no longer just about you casting your vote. It is also about the many other votes you and your social network can deliver.
Actively endorse your choice
It’s a mistake to believe that your voice and your vote wouldn’t count. Everyone has a circle of friends and peers not to mention family members that can be reached. Actively endorsing your choice to the people around you is another way to vote strategically. It is about making your choice known and giving valid reasons why others should likewise give their support. Create opportunities for discussion. Promote your choices or the issues you support in the social media platforms you use. Steer conversations towards meaningful exchange of ideas.
Voting is not as simple as picking a party or a candidate and stick with that to the end. Sometimes you have to be flexible and tactical if you want your vote to count. Taking control of how you make use of your vote is one of the best ways to make it count.
Voting may not be on top of many people’s list of priorities given the sheer number of things they have to deal with at any given day. Some people may prefer not to vote while others may fail to do so for different reasons. The underlying reasons for low voter participation during elections are varied. But there are common elements that many non-voters seem to share.
Belief that their does not really count
One vote may seem insignificant in the greater scheme of things. But imagine if more people share that view. The idea that one vote will not have much of an impact is a convenient excuse. However, it is essentially giving away the power to influence the election outcomes. In the end that decision contributes as to the kind of officials will run the government and thus affect the lives of everyone. Inversely, the more people participate in the voting process, the more they strengthen democracy and shape the quality of decision making their leaders make.
Lack of engagement or apathy
Some people have an aversion to politics and any discussion related to it. And negative perceptions about partisan interests and squabbles do not help in promoting engagement. A general feeling of apathy or lack of interest to get involved with anything related to politics is often one of the causes of low voter turnouts during elections. The downside of apathy, apart from not exercising the right to vote, is that it could affect everyone not just the people who opted out of the process.
Perceptions about candidates
There are people who would rather not vote than choose the lesser evil. This usually happens when all candidates are perceived to be undeserving or unqualified for the position they are running for. But choosing not to vote is not a solution. It merely provides an easy way not to get involved. One way to work around this conundrum is to focus on the candidates’ stands on the issues that matter to the voters. Vote not based on likability but on a candidate’s abilities and integrity.
The voting registration process and heading to the polls can be time consuming. Some people have trouble with the registration process either because they were not able to meet the requirements or failed to update their registration on time. While a busy schedule can indeed be a deterrent, it should not be an excuse to forego voting. The challenge is to make time to register, if necessary, and make time to line up at the polls to cast the vote.