Posted by / Tuesday 18 September 2018 / No comments

Does voting have any importance or it is just a quadrennial ritual?

In many democracies all over the world citizens go to the polls every now and then to elect their political leaders for a period of time. In the case of developing countries, however, there does not seem to be any significant change in the lives of the people after they have voted governments into power. In Nigeria, the people had very high hopes that the coming of President Muhammadu Buhari was going to turn things around but getting to the end of his first term, some citizens have revised their notes. In Ghana, the people voted overwhelmingly for the current government of President Nana Addo Dankwa Akuffo-Addo but even before the middle of his first term, there are cries that he is not fulfilling the many promises he made on the campaign trail prior to the 2016 elections. The situation is not too different in other African, South and Latin American countries.

If this is the slap voters receive after every four or so years from the people they vote into power, the question then is whether it is important to vote at all. Many are seeing voting only as a quadrennial ritual on the nation’s calendar and they just have to go through it during every electoral cycle.

Voting can be described as one of the methods by which people arrive at a decision. There are several ways by which a vote is cast but for the purpose of this article, voting is defined as the process of going to the polling booth on an election day to select who among political leaders one wants to become the leaders of one’s country for a given period of time. In spite of the disappointment electorates experience after they have voted people into power, voting is a very important ritual in the life of every democratic country.

Confers legitimacy on government
No government can take over political power in a democratic system if that government is not elected in a general election. One of the reasons why voting is very important in a democratic dispensation is that it legitimizes the government. Everyone recognizes that for a specific period of time, say four years, that is the government that has the mandate of the people to rule.

Participation in the political process
Another reason why voting is important is because it gives the opportunity to the citizens of the country to participate in the political process. The citizens become aware that they were part of the process that brought the government of the day into power. It does not matter whether they voted for the government of the day or not. They all made their individual decisions and the majority decision culminated in the government coming into power.

Vote Election Politics Government Campaign

Effective representation
Again voting is important because it allows for the citizens to be effectively represented in the government of the day. In ancient democracies, everybody directly took part in governing the state. However, with increase in population, all the people cannot represent themselves at the same time; they have to be represented in parliament and other governmental levels by somebody. Voting allows the people to have a say in who represents them in the political system whether in parliament, in the executive or at any political level.

Commitment to the political process
In most democracies, governments remain in power for four years though others adopt five and seven years too. The electorates, after voting, know that it is only after the term of office is ended that the government can be changed therefore they are not expected to truncate the political term of office midstream. The importance of voting is therefore that the citizens become committed to the political process and would do nothing to disrupt it.

Smooth transfer of power
Voting is important because it helps countries to smoothly transfer political power from one democratically elected government to another one. One of the differences between a state and a government is that while the state is permanent, the government is not. Governments come and go depending on the preference of the people. Voting determines whether a government must continue in power or hand over to another government. This ensures that there is a smooth transfer of power from one government to another.

Prevents usurpation of power
Voting prevents political adventurers from usurping political power from the hands of any ruling government. Once the convention has been established that one can only come into political power when one is voted for, coming to power through the barrel of the gun has become unpopular. Voting in a sense prevents people from staging coup d’tats.

1. a. What is voting?
   b. Highlight six ways in which voting is important.

Seven reasons why people abstain from voting

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