Will the first-time voters in Goa play a major role this election? There are 13,386 new voters, youth in the age group of 18 to 19, who have registered in the electoral roles and will be eligible to exercise their franchise on April 23.
It’s quite a number as it accounts for 1.17 per cent of the electorate in the State, and so has the potential to play a rather decisive role in the voting process. There is no knowing how they will vote, and the concern now is not for which party they will vote, but whether the young voters know that they are playing their part in the democratic process.
Interesting is that a new voter, excited to be voting for the first time, told Herald that for her, ‘winning is not important’ but that she wants to ensure that her maiden vote ‘goes to a deserving candidate’. This is one statement that indicates the concern of the youth today to the democratic process. When a lot of adults today, rue that their vote has been ‘wasted’ when the person they have voted for has not been victorious, here is a young girl who is looking at making a difference with her vote, not by getting swayed by the popularity of the candidate, but by voting for a ‘deserving’ candidate.
Elections and voting are the most basic of processes in a democratic set up that allows the citizens to participate in the governance of the nation. By voting the citizens choose the government they want by electing their representatives to the parliament. It is drilled into people that the vote is precious, that every person has to vote, but there may also be need to go beyond this and educate the people on how to choose a candidate.
While the Election Commission and its offices across the country will encourage voting – and that they are doing – it is left to civil society to ensure that voters appreciate the fact that their vote makes a statement and a difference. The impression that a vote for a candidate who may lose is a wasted voted has to be cleared from the minds of the people. Every vote is a statement from the voter as to his choice, an expression of his opinion. It has to be impressed upon the people that every vote makes a difference, that one vote can make a change.
Voting is so important that one must go to the polling station even if one does not want to vote for any of the candidates. It is for this reason that there is now the ‘None Of The Above’ or NOTA button on the electronic voting machine that gives the electorate the choice of stating that they reject the choice that has been given to them by the political parties. Even pressing this button results in a statement, as it tells the political parties that their candidates and their policies are not acceptable. It can force the party to reconsider the choice of candidate the next time an election comes around.
Goa’s first-time voters who have registered themselves have to be aware of the very important role they will be playing in this election. They, along with their elders will be deciding who will govern the country during the next five years. They should not allow themselves to be lured by mere promises but must learn to weigh the words and statements of the candidates and the parties and then take an informed decision. Along with them will be the over two lakh voters in the age group of 20 to 29 years. Together they can decide the fate of the candidates this election. Youth power could change politics in the State this election.