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Eugene King
 
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Why Not Voting Is Not a Solution

07 February 2014, 12:26

The weekend of the 8-9 February 2014 is the last drive of the IEC to get people registered to participate in the forthcoming elections. This also offers an opportunity for those who have relocated to change their voting details with the IEC.

There has been a growing trend since our first election in 1994 for people to simply refrain from voting and taking part any democratic process. This has been mostly because of disgruntlement and the total loss of confidence in the democratic process. Because of little to know change in the living conditions of the majority of the people, they have come to believe that withholding their vote is the best form of protest, or others have become totally apathetic.

The logic is that if those who are in power are not working to make the living conditions of all people better, then the best way to react to this is to not vote at all.

I personally believe refraining from voting brings no benefits to the one who doesn't vote, and only serves to maintain the status quo. By withholding your vote, you are simply helping preserve the status quo because low voter turnout actually benefits those who are already in power.

According to the statistics of elections voter turnout since 1994, low voter turnout has served to benefit the ANC more.

For example: For the 2009 elections, there were 28.4 million South Africans eligible to vote. And of these, only 23 million did register to vote, of which only 16 million eventually cast their votes. This means that only 81% of people registered to vote and only 56% of all eligible voters eventually cast their vote.

According to the IEC, the election results were as follows;  

Political Party

Percentage

ANC

65.9%

DA

16.66%

COPE

7.42

IFP

4.55%

Others

5.47%


However if you look at the numbers and analyse them more closely you will get a very different picture. This is the picture you would get in two categories:

Category 1: Considering the total number of registered voters, this is what you get.

Political Party

Percentage

ANC

53.38%

DA

13.49%

COPE

6.01%

IFP

3.69

Others

4.43

Not Voted

19%

In other words, the ANC only won the 2009 elections with just over 50% of the total number of registered voters. Now, let’s look at the other category.

Category 2: Considering the total number of all eligible voters.

Political Party

Percentage

ANC

36.9%

DA

9.32%

COPE

4.15%

IFP

2.55%

Others

3.06

Registered Non Voters

24.56%

Unregistered Eligible Voters

19.46

Here we see that in 2009 the ANC was given a mandate to govern us all by less than 40% of all people of voting age. In other words, if this group of people who didn't vote and those who didn't even register all together voted for one other entity, that particular entity would have won the 2009 elections by over 40% of the votes. This is a real tragedy right here.

If you follow the trend from the first table, you can clearly see who suffers the most when the numbers increase. Even if you analyse the election results from 2004, you will see the same trend.

This is why I argue that withholding a vote doesn't serve any meaningful purpose but to guarantee the maintenance of the status quo, and helps maintain those in power who are there due to a voice of a few. You stand to make the biggest impact and a world of difference if you cast your vote than if you don’t. If you don’t stand up for yourself, other people will make decisions on your behalf.

If you were planning not to vote, at least consider voting to strengthen the opposition, and this will inevitably help strengthen our democracy. Even if you don’t have a party in the opposition that represents your views, consider voting for the sake of strengthening the opposition, because this will also work in your favour.

If you are already registered to vote, that’s good news, I hope you turn up for the elections and vote wisely, if you are not, I hope you go to your nearest voting station this weekend (8-9 February 2013) to register to vote for change. Also encourage your friends to take part in strengthening our democracy, I am doing the same.

@geno_brown    

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