Why Should I Bother Voting?

Originally published online by The Knowledge, as part of their series on the University of Plymouth’s Student Union election season: http://theknowledgeplymouth.co.uk/2014-upsu-elections-why-should-i-bother-voting/

It is that time of year again. Posters are up, leaflets are being passed around, arrangements are being made. Indeed, there is a student somewhere who is preparing to gear up to try and become the Student Union President, and he or she will succeed. However, while there is an inevitable buzz about taking part in the politics of the UPSU, there is also an inevitable feeling of apathy. Final year students may (understandably) ask: “Why should I vote? I won’t be here next year.” Others may also ask: “How will the results of the SU elections affect me anyway? There’s no point in me voting.”

No doubt that, in the next few weeks, the UPSU will start trying to reverse such apathy. However, if you need any persuading as to why you should use your vote in the Student Elections, you need only switch on your television.

If you have watched the news this week, you will have seen the events of a referendum being held in Egypt. The referendum will decide whether or not a new constitution, drafted by the interim government and also one which greatly benefits the Egyptian military, will come into force in Egypt. Indeed, the news showed billboards urging voters to vote ‘Yes’, television adverts with the same message, and also queues of excited voters, excited to give their backing to the new constitution.

But, this is only half the story. There is also a large group of people who would say ‘No’ to the new constitution. Indeed, this group of people were the supporters of Egypt’s previous President, Mohammad Morsi. They too, will have been excited as the ‘Yes’ voters are, when their candidate won the (democratic, I hasten to add) Presidential Elections in June 2012.

However, Morsi was ousted by the Egyptian Army in July 2013; an event which was followed by anguish for those who had voted for him. It was felt that the fact that their democratically-elected President was ousted by the Army had reversed the progress towards democracy that the Egyptians had made in the first place. They will also feel aggrieved that the same powers that ousted their President, are the same powers that have written the draft constitution, and it will be the same powers that are entrenched in the Egyptian government should the new constitution be passed. The general consensus is that it will be.

“How is this relevant to the UPSU elections?”, I hear you ask. My response? These events are relevant to any vote, and not just the UPSU elections. These events act as reminders to us of just how lucky we are, in this election and also many others. Indeed, if your choice for the Union’s President wins this year, or even your choice for Prime Minister next year, he or she will not be overthrown by a coup soon after. It sounds far-fetched, but it certainly is not far-fetched to those who have experienced it.

Make the most of your vote, for you have the opportunity to do so, without fear of outside interference.

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