Sunday, May 6, 2007

Guidelines on Voting Wisely: PART I

by Department of Political Science Chair Alma Maria O. Salvador (as told to Hannah S. Varilla)

The following guidelines are divided into two, normative and operational. Normative guidelines are those that have to do with one’s understanding of governance in the nation. Operational guidelines deal with the actual procedure of voting.

Normative guidelines
(1-2 pertains to senatorial and congress votes, 3 to party list votes)
1. The voter must be informed of the importance of why they need to vote. This can be done through their personal undertaking of educating themselves about the why’s and how’s of voting, and why they SHOULD vote. It is their responsibility to gain knowledge of the importance of suffrage and at the most, have a “sense of their right to vote.” This makes for a better voter.

2. It isn’t enough to know who you are voting, what their platforms are, and getting acquainted with them merely through news or election specials in websites and internet forums. It is better to gauge their capabilities through seeing them in action. This can be done through watching the ANC debate as it gives an idea of how the candidates carry themselves and defend their supposed platforms as they are interrogated by the community.

There are three levels of exposure to the candidates. One would be the news. Another would be the interactive debates or interviews, through channel specials or talk shows. Last would be through joining a campaign in particular, or giving the time to be exposed to their campaign activities. An example would be the barangay assemblies headed by party lists and weekly reports on the elections in Marikina.

3. The best way to go about picking the right party lists is to be observant. Once again, it isn’t enough to form conclusive opinions through data merely from their platforms and motherhood statements. It is presumed that one should gauge with a good sense of political character or on how similar the party list’s actuations are to what they say. It is good to pick up clues from their interviews with the media and assess their platform for oneself. Whether they are disenfranchised or interests groups, we have to distinguish for ourselves their real interests.

Operative guidelines
4. For senatorial elections, one has to come [to the precinct] with at least 12 names. One cannot leave blanks because others might place their own votes on the blanks. The vote is subject to tampering – those who are influential in the precincts are usually the ones whose bias and rules are followed.

As for party lists:

5. For choosing party lists, one needs to ask oneself, “how long have they been there?” Have they been able to make drastic changes for the interests they advocated properly? A little handy research and background information will do.

Party lists comprise of at least 6% or around 300 votes. It would be better to maximize the seats provided for party list representatives if we allowed for the usage of these allotted 50 seats for all the party lists. Instead of giving a mere 6% total support for only dominant party lists, it would be good to make use of the other 2% vote for those with strong advocacies. A variety of votes wouldn’t hurt the effective utilization of party list initiatives.

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