I really love election years. I love playing the guessing game; estimating how many seats each party will get, which electorates have had enough of their incumbent MPs, what the wild-card issues are.
I also really hate election years. It’s more of the same, just a whole lot more than non-election years; more empty promises, more parties playing ping pong to distract us from the truth, more odiousness, more bulls**t.
The last national election saw the lowest turn out of voters since 1887, so as September 20th edges ever closer I wondered: “Why DO people vote?” and “Why DON’T people vote?”
So I conducted a very scientific vox-pop survey of an unbiased sample of New Zealanders, using the best technological data collection I could find (I asked the question over facebook) to figure out the reasons why people do/don’t vote.
Top Reasons for Voting:
- I want to have a say, and I want to keep the bad guys from getting elected! (AKA My vote will make a difference!) Whether you’re voting to keep a party in, or trying to get them out, voting makes you feel like you’re having a say. This is our one chance every three years to actively make big changes, and we’re gonna take it!
- I want to Complain! There is a strong mantra in the voting community that you’re not allowed to complain about who got in if you didn’t vote. So there.
- I feel obliged to! This reason comes in a variety of flavours and colors. For some it is an obligation based on a strong belief in democracy. For others it’s connected to history; some-one died/fought to protect/allow you to vote you better make sure your ancestors don’t get mad at ya for taking it for granted! And for others it arises out of a sense of guilt; other people in other places don’t get a chance to vote, so you should take the opportunity if you got it.
- It’s a flawed system, but if I don’t vote it won’t stop the other side from voting! For some not voting is like voting for the ‘bad’ guys – just because you’re not voting doesn’t mean that no one else is. Even if you don’t believe in the legitimacy of the state, or feel like your voice is going to be listened to, voting can be a way to try to counter the other side from winning.
Top Reasons for NOT Voting:
- It Doesn’t Change Anything! (AKA Trust No-One!) This is the Fox Mulder reasoning behind not voting – that no one is worth voting for, and that all elections are decided by a higher power (and by higher power think corporations, rather than corporeal beings).
- The Political System Sucks! (AKA Russell Brand!!) See below:
- There’s no-one who I want to vote for! Since we don’t have the option of casting a negative vote (or even a vote of no confidence), it’s hard to vote for someone if you hate everyone who’s running.
At the end of the day I think everyone should be free to vote or not. But I also think that it is important to know WHY you’re voting (or not…).