I have been a voter; I have also been a candidate. I have seen how important a single vote is. Of course, that’s just for a small population of high school students who oftentimes barely even care whose names they write on their ballots. In a place where only 2 parties exist, mudslinging is just a whisper, and there are only about 400 voters, a single vote matters. One vote can make or break a tie, where in this case, the likelihood of it is definitely not slim. For a community with a very small population, every vote matters.
But does every single vote matter during the national elections? Think about it. There are millions and millions of Filipino voters. Now think about this: in the recent past, has there ever been a time when the final vote to be tallied would determine the fate of at least three people running for the same position? If I recall correctly, the winning candidate would always top the others by thousands of votes. Not only thousands but tens of thousands. So, would it really matter if I won’t include myself in the tens of thousands of votes that helped the winner? Or would it really matter if the losing candidates lose by one more vote?
Coincidentally, I turn 18 two months before the upcoming elections so recently, I decided to get myself registered for two reasons: One, I become a responsible citizen, and two, I wanted to get a voters ID, an addition to the collection of cards that make me feel more of an adult. But it has been recently made known to me that I might not ever get a voters ID like my parents. So that dream’s down the drain. I am left with only one reason that I got registered: to be a responsible citizen.
As the days go by, more and more people sprout in the media telling everyone their desire to run for a national position, and what position they desire. Day by day, more politicians appear on the news with smiles plastered on their faces, witty lines ready at the tips of their tongue, sanitized hands all set to reach out to the poor. At least one article is published online every hour for the past couple of months about a candidate doing a good deed, making a bad move, or even something of zero significance to voters. In the age where most people believe what is fed by the media, more specifically the internet, where people cannot tell factual article from satirical news, in a time where a single share can reach thousands of people at a time, I no longer know what to believe.
Being a former non voter citizen of the Philippines, I am one of those students who watch the news every night during dinner time, throwing comments at most, if not all, government officials for their obvious incompetence or for whatever wrong doing of theirs as of the moment. As a citizen who has a lot of complaints about our government, I have burdened myself with the idea that I must make a wise decision on the upcoming election day. I have filled my head with the idea that I must choose wisely, so I would never regret in the near future that I shaded an egg beside a candidate’s name.
Considering that I make up a percentage of the voting community who spends a huge amount of time on the internet, I have been trying to turn my mind into a scanner for truthful articles or lie filled write-ups. To be honest, it isn’t easy. Like I said, we are in the age where people cannot tell factual from satirical and sometimes, I’m one of those people. Probably more than 50 percent of my social media feed is taken over by politics, and there is absolutely no way to escape them. No matter where you go, turn left or right, there is always a post on a former politician’s wrong doings behind the camera, a neophyte politician’s good records, or a current politician’s mixed feedback, all coming from a source you would most likely find believable like a trusted network or a dependable publisher. I feel like I am being sucked into a hole by the social media, I no longer know who or what to believe, I’m almost at a point that I believe nothing.
But do I really have to stress out myself into trying to make a vote I would not regret in the future? Do I really even need to vote? Considering that I am barely a significant being in our huge society, my endorsement doesn’t even count. So should I even bother? Am I even mentally mature enough to make, what we all believe, an important decision? Is eighteen years of age old enough to make a vote? Do they need my vote?
I know a lot of people will come up to me and tell me my vote matters. My vote is my right and if I don’t vote, I don’t have a right to complain about the next leaders of this country. Truth be told, I do not want to be robbed of that right, the right to complain. Some people would give me recommendations on who I should vote. This might even take a whole day of discussing a politician’s strong points and their opponent’s mile long list of weak spots. There is even a slight chance that somebody would tell me that if I’m too lazy on the day of elections, I don’t have to vote. But I do want to vote. I dream of voting for my future leaders. I have a desire to be able to make a life changing decision for the benefit of my country.
But my final questions are these, and I want you to think real hard about it first before you shove answers in my face: Will my vote ever really count in a sea of voters who may or may not have thought through their egg shading as much as I did? And if my vote really matters, how do I know if such candidate deserves my only chance in the next three years to cast a vote amidst all the mudslinging and whitewashing around me?