What does one vote mean?

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I’m a just-so person. Have no political affiliation, do not belong to a community that has political clout or to any significant group / union that can make noise and is sought after by political parties (like some auto drivers who throw tantrums, forget what their job is and can go on a "pre-poll" strike so that they can position themselves as a vote bank to the highest bidder).

I perhaps know more than an average Joe about certain civic issues because my work has been related to urban studies through most of my work life. But I still learn more interesting tidbits every other day. Let me share my take on elections now that our Assembly elections are around the corner.

I can understand a skeptic not wanting to vote or just phoo-phooing the ‘system’, they have been given enough reason by the political lot who actually count on them not voting. But little do they realise that by not voting they just danced to tune the netas were playing. How else will a 45% voter turnout win a neta an election?

The non-voting population needs to stop for a moment and do some math and realise that maybe as low as 10% of the total electorate (10% of the 45% could be simple majority) won a neta a nice chair, a plot, a VIP status, an entourage whose salaries are paid by their taxes and the most powerful weapon – a chance to be in the legislature where our fate and that of a state can be decided by the legislations and policies he ‘aye’s or ‘nay’s actively, half asleep or multi-tasking while watching porn.

On the other hand, this 55% non-voting population needs to realise, that together, they are a force to reckon with!

Here is a fact – the MLAs from the city directly have little to do with the state of the city’s roads, traffic, autos, pollution, water, drains, etc – we have local bodies like the BBMP, BWSSB, BTP, KSPCB, etc for that. BUT, all laws and policies that govern these bodies and many others (like education, health, agriculture, jobs, sustainable development etc.) are what these elected representatives frame. They also may or may not put in the *conditions apply* clauses on the implementation and enforcement of these laws and policies.

The MLAs have the power to decide how the state executive functions and which bureaucrat is placed where and for how long. I have barely scratched the surface here!! In short and on the brighter side, the MLAs have the power to right wrongs – MLAs with the will to do it need to be voted in.

The reason "no one to vote for" does sound like a lame excuse when there is so much at stake and there is information out there on the candidates.

I vote with the hope that there would be many many "one votes" like me which can trigger a process. I vote so that I am not burdened by the guilt that I did nothing about the wrong people deciding wrong things for my city, state or nation.

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About Josephine Joseph 53 Articles
Josephine Joseph researches and writes on urban governance, civic and environmental issues in Bangalore City, from a 'citizen' point of view.


  1. The power of even a single vote could never be negated in a Democracy. It is not about that Vote will help decide, it is about a Right that i have and need to use and collectively, it will matter, as it adds to the number. It also says that you take the responsibility – the responsibility to stand behind an elected representative. It matters. It is single numbers that add up.

  2. Very well said. We need to be hopeful. And towards this we need to come out of our complacency of the last 20-30 years to get out of the web we’re all caught in.
    Everyone with a vote in Bangalore needs to mark voting day on his/her calendar and keep aside the time it takes to go down to the polling station, stand in the queue and vote – just as they would mark the day and spend the time to get into Chinnaswamy stadium, or attend a final exam or a job interview. The election is as much a test for the citizens as it is for the representatives they elect. Only then can our democracy become a real one.

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