Voting is your right; use it

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THE Guyana Elections Commission yesterday wrapped up one of the pivotal preliminary exercises before Elections Day: The Claims and Objections period. Despite the very many issues that arose during this exercise, GECOM persevered and was able to conduct this aspect of its pre-elections work relatively smoothly and without any major incident.
Information released by GECOM on Monday stated that some 26,300 transactions were completed as of November 3, 2019. This include 5,636 new registrations; 14, 474 transfers; 2,639 Changes/corrections; 2400 replacements; 651 photo retakes and 500 objections. During the exercise, GECOM operated out of 29 offices across the country, along with several other temporary offices.

Now that this exercise is over, barring any extension, Guyanese can turn full focus on Election Day, a time when our nation comes together to elect a government and president who will represent us on the global stage for the next five years. We will elect a leader that will stand for our rights as citizens, students, employees and employers. We will elect a leader that will, hopefully, keep their promises. It is a big decision, and this election marks a pivotal point in our nation’s history. Currently, although there are many, there are two very distinct paths our country will choose from, and it is more important than ever to cast a vote in this election.

Voting is the opportunity to contribute to the political process, and the system was created to work best when everyone participates. Therefore, using your right to vote is not just an addition to the voter turnout statistics; your vote actually matters. We live in a democracy; a system of government in which the entire population participates. So, participate!
The right to vote was fought for through blood, sweat and tears. It is a right that ought not to be taken for granted or ignored. It is a right that allows every eligible citizen the opportunity to vest privilege in a person and group he/she thinks can best represent and articulate his/her interest. It is a right that carries tremendous power, through which the voter can hire a representative, fire that representative, and exercise the responsibility of ensuring that that representative accounts for the management of citizens’ affairs and the nation’s resources. Voting, therefore, is a sacred duty and must be cherished.
To cherish the vote is to turn out and vote, and thereafter remain vigilant in the political processes to ensure that promises made are kept, involvement in the management and decision-making on matters that impact the well-being of self and community is guaranteed and respected. To not vote is to deny oneself the opportunity to influence the course of direction impacting one’s life and community.

Man lives in a political association. By this it means decisions affecting one’s life have political implications, from the womb to the tomb. It’s a political decision that informs laws and policies with regard to the right to life and where death occurs; the right for one’s earthly remains to be disposed of consistent with specific standards. Where death has occurred under questionable circumstances, the deceased is entitled, through the Coroner’s Act, to an inquest.

During one’s lifetime, political decisions will inform the making of laws, conceptualisation and execution of policies and programmes which will impact on quality of life, inclusive of whether there is respect for fundamental rights and freedoms. These include the right to freedom of association, freedom of speech, and sharing of ideas and information, healthcare, education, ownership of property, the right to a safe and secure environment, work (jobs/economic opportunities), and protection from discrimination. Political decisions inform quality and equitable infrastructural development and resource management, inclusive of the environment.

Where government in our country is representational when a citizen exercises the right to vote by casting a ballot, it becomes a corresponding right to question and propose ideas to elected officials since they are acting on your behalf. This is one of the basic elements in the thrust towards realising good governance. Good governance requires that citizens stay engaged throughout the process and elected officials responding to the desires of the community within the confines of the law.

Recognising the presence of representative democracy, good governance necessitates servant-driven leadership, which entails constant and sustained response to the needs of citizens. When a voter gives up the right to vote, it is tantamount to relinquishing an important act in determining who ought to be the leaders in the community. More so, the refusal to discharge this sacred duty bears the consequences of having to live under conditions and in circumstances not befitting of your desire. A vote also places persons of choice in leadership positions to make and administer laws that can bring about economic opportunities, bring about equality, improve infrastructure, security and the environment, and manage your towns and neighbourhoods free of corruption.

To vote is to have a voice and the right to demand thereafter that the voice be heard, and elected leaders act in accordance with the laws of the community and the desires of the people. Voting is a sacred duty, and all eligible voters are called upon to exercise it.