Some people I know believe that voting is useless. “My vote won’t make a difference anyway so why bother,” they say. Of course, they still complain bitterly about the state of the country and endlessly criticize the government. Arguing the merits of voting with them doesn’t make any difference.
The only thing that seems to shut them up is laying out some numbers for them. For example, in the 2014 South African General Elections the ANC got 11,436,921 votes. That same year 6,985,585 registered voters didn’t turn up to vote. If that same number had voted for the DA, the DA would have won 11,077,169 votes and the ANC would have had their seats in parliament practically cut in half. If the non-voters had voted for the EFF or even a much smaller party like COPE, then one of those parties would have easily been the new official opposition.
True, not all of the non-voters would have voted for the same party. Nonetheless, think about this: South Africa has a population of almost 53 million people; let’s call it 52 million for argument’s sake. According to the IEC’s (Independent Electoral Commission) 2014 statistic there are 25,388,082 registered voters in the country. That means that at least 26,611,918 South African’s didn’t vote. Naturally, a large portion of those South Africans are under 16 years of age and therefore too young to vote. I haven’t been able to find out exactly how many South Africans are too young to vote but given the 2011 census numbers and current birth rate the number should be about 15 million (if anybody out there has the real number, I would love to hear from you). What that means is that about 11, 611,918 South Africans are not voting. In other words, there are more people in SA not voting than there are people voting for the ANC, the ruling party.
If all the non-voters (who believe their votes wouldn’t make a difference) decided to form a single party and vote, they would be the new ruling party. In a land that has fought so long and hard for democracy, the real majority, as it turns out, are the people who don’t engage in the democratic process.
The point is their votes would make an enormous difference. If you happen to be one of the non-voters, please bare in mind that your failure to vote has made the votes of those who do engage in the democratic process more powerful. Moreover, you through your failure to act are also responsible for the state of the nation.