The local government elections have ended, with both political parties claiming victory. But as I boldly predicted, the voter turnout was low, as it historically is, and I’d like to proffer a few reasons why.
1. Honestly, local government election is promoted as a box drain and road paving drive, and little more. It’s so irrelevant to most that they’d faster tell you who the Minister of Culture is than the Minister of Local Government, and let’s be honest, this country neglects culture outside of Christmas and Carnival seasons.
2. Despite pronouncements to the contrary, the major political parties are seen as fighting childish games with each other. Always a reminder of what the other party did wrong while in power; rarely testaments about what the current party is doing without the comparisons. That’s why it’s assumed that people don’t vote for a political party anymore; they vote against one.
3. Imagine changing your name (like, by getting married, for example) and changing your address. Apparently the EBC thinks you shouldn’t be able to change the both at the same time. Well, why would anybody want to vote outside of the area that they live in for local government elections? So, change name and not vote this time, that’s all.
4. Jumping off the last point, if Diego Martin West is a stronghold but I’m registered to vote there but voting may be a little inconvenient for me, why would I force myself? It’s all but certain who’s going to win that “sure” seat anyway. I may as well use those two hours to relax. (Not saying this is right; saying this is one reason why people don’t vote.)
5. The first time I knew who my councillor was, was when I moved to Arima and the new councillor was my neighbour. Before then, I passed the then-councillor and our current Minister of Education quite a few times, and neither of us knew of the other. No matter though; even though he’s close enough to be my neighbour too, I’m sure I’ll see him next year August, in front of my gate...just not necessarily before that.
6. If I don’t like either of the ruling parties (government or opposition), I choose a third option, knowing fully well that said option won’t win half of a seat (most times; NAR and COP proved otherwise). At worst, I’ll intentionally spoil my ballot. My reasoning? Too many people paid the ultimate price for this African descendant to have the right to vote for me not to vote without good reason. Nobody will know who I voted for, and I can complain, because I voted. Most people simply won’t vote. Above all else, patriotism is seriously lacking in this country.
7. Jumping off my last point, ever noticed the largest voter turnouts are when people are voting to kick out a ruling party? People are so uninterested in voting, many would only vote when someone frustrates them enough to be gotten rid of. That’s...disturbing.
Do note that this is mostly the same for general elections as well. So for whomever wins, I just want you to know that your victory is not something you should revel in too much, because you don’t actively have a large portion of the (eligible to vote) population backing you.
They simply don’t care enough either way to say anything, to vote for representation.
The way I personally see that, no matter who wins, we all lose.
Shabba De Leon