Election day is over in Austria and, as with every election in the past years, I have seen loads and loads of facebook posts that told me that I need to vote, how important it is that everyone votes, that it is my moral duty to vote.
You see, I’m not so sure about that. Everyone should have the right to vote, and hell yeah, that’s extremly important – if you want to vote you definitely should have the possibility, means, and right to do so.
But why would I want everybody to vote?
Three good reasons why actually not everyone should:
- They are not sufficiently informed. Supposingly, you spent the last weeks to inform yourself about the different possibilities, what the parties stand for, what their programm in the various sections is. You have based your decision on that and think that everyone else should do the same. Agreed! But not everyone is as dedicated. Some might only judge based on one billboard, some only based on their favorite colour (by voting for that respective colour). You’re not saying “Everyone should vote”, you’re saying “Everyone who is informed enough to place a vote should do so”
- They’re voting to prove a point. There are hundreds of reasons to vote for something – a bad one is to vote just because that person misleadingly thinks it prevents a right or left tendency in the country (I’m not taking sides here, but both extremes aren’t very smart). They are too fixed on a general feeling or panic suggested to them by the media and are not voting for what they think is right, but what they think is right for society, the government, the other people – anyone but themselves. You’re not saying “Everyone should vote”, you’re saying “Everyone who is genuinely convinced of their decision should vote”.
- They vote to satisfy their parents. Yes, it’s true, this point can go hand in hand with the first one, and it’s not proven that it happens often (Wahlgeheimnis). However, I do hear people say that they have informed themselves and are inclined to vote for a certain party, but ultimately won’t do so because their parents don’t approve. It’s not so much about not being informed, but more about the influence of people close to you. You’re not saying “Everyone should vote”, you’re saying “Everyone who has formed an own opinion and votes consequently should vote.
To say that everyone should vote is bullshit. Sure, I’m happy when the turnout of voters is high, because I genuinely hope that they are interested, well-informed, independent people, who vote for whoever they think is best for them. And I would never discourage anyone to not go to the election, because I’m not happy with his/her choice or regard a vote as unimportant.
But no, I do not want people who couldn’t care less about the outcome and just vote for whoever’s voice is loudest in their surrounding without having a clue what they are voting for to vote. In this case I’d rather have them not vote and leave the decision to people who do invest time into their decision and care about the outcome.
Every vote is important. But only if it is a true, genuine and well-placed , whatever that may mean for the individual, vote.