Monday, May 4, 2009

Does your vote really count?

41.24!!! That was the voter turnout in Mumbai for the 2009 Lok Sabha Elections. Shocking? Not really... What more can you expect when elections are mostly scheduled around a 4-day long weekend and soaring mercury? This has been a consistent trend, because it naturally and almost delusively keeps away the middle-class and the upper-middle class from the polling booths. I mean that tactic is just so obvious not to be noticed!

So we heard a lot of 'election-jargon' like 'anti-incumbency factor' and what not! Organizations undertook campaigns on a massive scale, creating 'more aware' voters (I take it with a pinch of salt!) and emphasizing the masses to 'jaago' (awaken) and vote! Though, this piece of writing would somehow hurt the sentiments of these campaigners, let me assure, this is not against the campaigns which are certainly run with a very good motive.

The question I am contemplating is whether the vote of the commons really makes any difference to the polls? Do we blindly follow the adage 'Your Vote Counts?' Ever wondered why 'anti-incumbency factor' fails to do anything else than embellish the statements of psephologists? And if I may go a step ahead and raise your eyebrow saying that it hardly matters whether you vote or not, would you call me a non-conformist?

Maybe to a great extent I am, but then again, I am proud of being one! But this topic is not about the helplessness experienced due to dirty politics and vote banks! The core of this blog concentrates on the rationality of a logical theory which underlines why voting of a common man doesn't count... Why majority doesn't play a decisive game as does minority!

The reason I say what I say can be made clear by taking a fictitious, yet trend-proven example of an election scenario. We know that there are countless parties in India, each 'following' its agenda. These numerous parties float their candidates which fill up a long page of the ballot paper. Suppose now that in a certain constituency, there are 20 candidates contesting elections. Take for example a population of 20000 of that constituency. Now, without deliberating on their patterns of voting, let’s simply assume for instance that each candidate gets equal number of votes, i.e. 1000 votes each. Or otherwise, if you want to assume a distribution of your choice, say, 1300, 700, 500, 1500, 300, 1400... etc. This is the voice of the 'common man', i.e., a majority of you reading this blog. Is it giving out any verdict? Certainly that would be wishful thinking!! Now let’s introduce a 'specific interest group' into this scene. This group maybe a business group, a social group or any group you can think of as long as it has a specific purpose for its formation and existence. Now for the time being, lets assume it is a group of local businesses in that area who need to acquire government lands in that constituency. Now, this group is searching for candidates who can fulfill their demands and in turn, candidates are always looking for such 'interest groups' who could leverage their count. Suppose out of a population of 20000, 1500 are aligned to this group, then it is anybody's guess that the candidate who assures the maximum benefits gets these 1500 votes... Now add these votes to our equiprobable vote count of 1000 per candidate. It becomes 2500 votes for that candidate. Compare 2500 with vote counts like 300, 700, 1000, 1200, 1500 or even 1700 (assume 1700 is the vote count of the most deserving candidate getting most votes by people). Still the margin is very high, and imagine if amplification factor is applied to this example, the margin amplifies more and more.

So at the end of it all, whose vote matters? Your vote (as you have been always told) as an individual? Or your vote ....... as a part of an interest group? The answer is obvious and not surprising at all. Hence, even if you religiously believe that your vote would help to elect the best candidate and bring in reforms, you certainly are in Utopia, because even if you go into a denial mode, the hard facts remain! And could be proved over and over again!

So what do I suggest? Well, the idea to contemplate is how you can make that difference and how your vote would 'really' count! There are various ways I believe this could be done, although I am not an authority to evaluate these options. What I believe is that to begin with, we need to streamline our efforts. I recommend we can start with being a part of an 'interest group'. This need not be always vested interests; sorry if the example cited offers you that bias. But then if you see in western countries, like-minded people follow a cause, however trivial it is and become one when it comes to electing the person who delivers what they stood for!

Even in countries where only 2 parties exist, this is observed. And moreover, when it comes to a multi-party setup as in India, this becomes a necessary step. Uniting votes and streamlining them for reforms is the issue at hand and maybe would pave a way ahead to make your vote 'count' and not just another increment in a vote count!

1 comment:

shveta said...

Yes the idea of Interest Groups makes sense. This should happen soon in India but too many parties in India and how to stop them growing in numbers? Its rediculous that if you like party ideology the candidates are hopeless or if you feel the candidate deserves, then the party is not worth. I voted but was not very happy with the experience on the whole.