Tuesday, 5 May 2015

IF YOU DON'T VOTE, DON'T COMPLAIN

Today is the day when Albertans will choose the next premiere of the province. Many people will be at the polls during some time today. Sadly, not everybody realizes the great privilege of voting in a free society.

Many countries have dictatorships where no alternative to the powers that be exists. Anybody even hinting at the dictator's faults is whisked off to prison or just disappears in the middle of the night.

Some nations allow voting but showing up at the polls is dangerous. Opposition parties often threaten to kill voters and blow up polling stations in order to intimidate citizens. On occasions, opposition candidates are murdered so that the ruling power can keep its hold on the country.

I take my privilege of helping to choose the next provincial government seriously. In fact the first time I voted in any election was forty years ago. I haven't missed one because I realize how precious our right to political dissent is. Though my first experience with voting was humiliating because the poll workers assumed I couldn't even sign my name, I still felt proud of what I did.

People today in the west have no excuse for not voting. Practically every country has advanced polls for those who are unable to vote on election day. Some provinces and states even have mail-in ballots for those who are homebound. Candidates use social media and have web pages outlining their policies so voters can read them and make an informed choice. How much more must be done to get people off their couches and vote?

It seems to me that people figure their vote doesn't count. History is filled with accounts where a few votes either way could have changed the fate of nations. I believe people are just to apathetic and lazy to vote. They don't appreciate the honour given them by the governments they pay taxes to. Neither do they care that many people around the world would love to have the freedom they take for granted.

As long as I can, I plan to vote in all the national, provincial, and municipal elections held where I live. As I enter the polling station, I think about how fortunate I am that nobody is intimidating me to vote a certain way or that I might be shot. I therefore urge all Albertans to get out and vote. Stop letting others determine your future for you. If you're too lazy to do your homework and vote, don't complain about who was elected. You have no right to gripe since you didn't bother voting.