South Africa

Not going to vote it’s just hot air

The writer does not wish to engage with people who were eligible to vote but refused to.

Vote early, vote often, I say, so for the second time in a month I went to vote, this time for the Irish municipal elections and the European parliament elections.

Ireland works on a transferable vote system: you can literally number the candidates in your preferred order from best to worst.

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I take this seriously, so seriously that I arrived to vote on Friday with two printouts, heavily researched, neatly numbered. I had done my homework. And then… no.

‘Voting for the greens’

I couldn’t vote in the European elections because somehow, somewhere my citizenship details hadn’t been updated.

Sympathetically, the woman manning the desk admired my lists. “And you were voting for the Greens too,” she said, “like me.”

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The next day at the shops I saw a familiar face. “It’s you!” I said. She looked at me blankly.

“From voting yesterday!” “Oh yes,” she smiled. “You had your lovely list but weren’t allowed to vote in the European elections.

25% turnout

We’re destined to be friends.” And then she told me that the turnout at my local polling station was only 25%, a measly quarter of the eligible voting population.

Three in four people hadn’t bothered to raise their lazy, entitled backsides, trot down the road, and make their mark.

Three in four of my neighbors spurned their precious right to vote.

In South Africa, 43% didn’t turn up to play their part, a part which has historically been denied to so many globally on the basis they were black, poor, or female, and for which people have suffered and died.

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Yet you can bet these selfsame folk have a strong opinion about the results, and the governance of the country.

‘Your opinions are spineless’

So I, Jennie With Her Lists, have one thing to say: if there is an election and you can vote but you don’t bother, then I don’t want to hear another word from you.

If you lack even the conviction or energy to make a small X on a ballot paper, then your opinions are spineless, worse than useless.

Your soapboxing means nothing to me; you’re now on mute. Because anyone can talk, but without the follow-through it’s just hot air.

You didn’t vote when you could? Well then, write your thoughts down on toilet paper. Maybe then I’ll find a use for them.

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