Make your vote count
It’s exactly one month left to Election Day, and if you hadn’t had the chance to select your candidates, there’s still time to do some basic research on their track records and character. These elections are important; the stakes are high. The decisions that elected officials make in the laws they pass and the policies they formulate will have effects far longer than their actual terms of office. That’s why it’s so important to get to know them in terms of track record, integrity, honesty and ethics.
In a way, you are making an important hiring decision. We, collectively, are hiring the people who will run our country. The only thing is, if we make the wrong decision, it’ll be very difficult to reverse our decision.
Will the people you vote for live up to their oath? Every elected official has to swear to an oath of office before exercising the duties and responsibilities of office. Are you 100 percent sure that the candidates you will vote for can live up to this oath? Are you sure that the candidates you voted for in the last elections have lived up to this oath? If the answer is “no,” please think carefully about who you plan to vote for.
The oath of office for all public officials and employees is as follows:
“I, (Name) of (Residence), having been elected/appointed to the position of (Office), do hereby solemnly swear that I will well and faithfully discharge to the best of my ability, the duties of my present position and of all others I may hereafter hold, under the Republic of the Philippines, that I will support and defend the Constitution of the Philippines, that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same, that I will obey the laws, legal orders and decrees, promulgated by the duly constituted authorities of the Republic of the Philippines, and that I impose this obligation upon myself, voluntarily, without mental reservation or purpose of evasion. So Help me God.”
Pick the right candidate. Go against the wrong ones. In Philippine elections, there are usually four or five candidates running for every position available. In this year’s Senate race, there are 62 candidates competing for 12 seats. Voters are typically blamed for the quality of people voted into office. That is partially true because we vote. But political parties are also to blame, because they give us such an incredible mix of fit and unfit candidates. The harsh reality is we have to elect from this very uneven menu.
In these elections, we need to do two things. The first is to advocate and vote for candidates who will serve the country well. The second is to speak out against candidates who will not serve the country at all. By now, we should be able to tell from the behavior, statements, values, track records, careers and competencies which is which.
Vote for 12. When voting for senators, it’s important to vote for 12. This is basically because there are 12 positions open.
Every vote you make for someone gives that candidate a better chance of winning. More importantly, every blank you leave improves the chances of the candidates you don’t like. This is just the way the arithmetic of elections work. No matter how many or how few place a vote, the Top 12 will always win. So it just makes more sense to make your every vote count.
Don’t let surveys make up your mind. Pre-election surveys reflect the thinking of voters at a moment in time. They act as snapshots of public sentiment. Unfortunately, some people use surveys to influence their own thinking on who to vote for. In such cases, they just create a self-fulfilling prophecy for the survey. The only way to make your vote a truly independent one is to vote for exactly who you want in office, regardless of what surveys tell you. You should influence a survey rather than have a survey influence you.
Are surveys always right? You may not realize it now, but voting for a full slate of 12 senators may yield completely different results from what surveys are showing you now. That’s because only 42 percent of survey respondents vote for a full slate of 12 senators. On average, respondents vote for only nine senators (leaving the final three slots blank). This is why I always advise voting for a full slate of 12 candidates. Make your every vote count.
Remember, there is no such thing as a wasted vote, only a wasted opportunity.
Guillermo M. Luz (firstname.lastname@example.org. ph) is chief resilience officer of the Philippine Disaster Resilience Foundation (www.pdrf.org).
Business Matters is a project of the Makati Business Club.
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