Today is a huge election day in India:
Polling for 121 Lok Sabha seats, 77 seats for Odisha Assembly & 2 by-elections in WB underway. Urging voters to vote in record numbers.— Narendra Modi (@narendramodi) April 17, 2014
One of the constituencies voting today is the one I live in: Bangalore Central. In fact, all of Karnataka is voting today for Lok Sabha seats. As of this writing reports suggest that voter turnout this year is quite low. Quoting from the above article:
40% voter turnout in Karnataka, 25% in Bangalore.
Karnataka witnessed 58.8% voter turnout in 2009 Lok Sabha and 71.8% turnout in 2013 assembly election.
I haven’t verified either of these facts thoroughly, but a quick google search shows that they’re probably correct.
I’ve seen several people shaming Bangalore and Bangaloreans for this. For instance1:
#Bangalore - you have been an embarrassment. Why this apathy? Get off your backside and vote— bhatnaturally (@bhatnaturally) April 17, 2014
There is a perception among many that Bangaloreans are lazy louts - thanks to the weather and the booze. Voter turnout furthers that— bhatnaturally (@bhatnaturally) April 17, 2014
I have personally been asked (and witnessed other people being asked) in a highly accusatory tone: “Did you vote?”. One person went so far as to call non-voters “filth that should be thrown out of the country”. It’s as though not voting is some sort of crime. I find this extremely disheartening.
Folks, let’s not forget: voting is a right. The constitution does not compel you to vote; it merely gives you the option to! This is for good reason!
Yes, under ideal circumstances, you should vote responsibly. However, who to vote for is not a decision you take lightly. Voters are not all equal. Informed voters help the system. Uninformed ones hurt it. It is better to have fewer informed voters, than a lot of uninformed voters. If you do not have the required information to vote, please don’t! Leave the decision to your fellow citizens who have spent the time to think about it.
Now let’s face reality. Not all of us have the time to do the requisite research to find the right person to vote for. I sure as hell don’t. Why? I don’t care enough. This is totally ok! Here’s why:
Not everyone has to care about the same problems!
I’m not shaming you for not learning about heartbleed, so please stop shaming me for not caring about things you care about. You go right ahead and think about which scam riddled corrupt person to vote for, while I think about the gazillion other things I care about. I’m not going to judge you.
I understand that there should be more awareness, and we have more informed voters. But shaming, accusing and threatening people is not the way to do this. Be polite. Encourage people to do their homework well in advance. And fergodsakes, get off your high horse and stop being a jerk!
In the interest of full disclosure, I voted. I trust my parents and brother. They seem to care about this stuff, and they’ve been reading and talking about it for months. I trust that they’re making the right decision, so I voted for whoever they voted for. Please understand however that not everyone is lucky enough to be in this position.
I don’t mean to pick on this person - loads of people have said similar things. This just caught my eye. ↩