We all do it, but how much is too much?

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President Barack Obama votes in Chicago in the 2012 election
Citizens vote in the 2005 Afghan elections
Citizens vote in the 2005 Afghan elections

Nearly every week around the world people engage in a certain activity. People can do it at just about any time; some do it online, some in person. There are tons of different ways to do it: in secret, publicly, straight, in protest, by issue, preferential, or first-past-the-post.

From the last one you’ve probably figured out that this is about voting. Hopefully you weren’t too far off in your guess.

With young people, we seem to be either very apathetic or far too passionate about our causes. When looking over voting behaviour of the under 30 crowd for this article, it was as you might expect: we tend to be more left leaning than those over 30 and more determined about one or two policies versus a more evenhanded, intense interest in a party’s entire manifesto. In reality though, everything counts. While we may be passionate about one issue over another, as is natural, we should think carefully about all of a candidate’s policies and then once weighing them all, make a final decision.

In the developed world, it seems we take voting for granted. I’m always amazed when I see images of voting occurring for the first time in a country and the lines to vote are miles long. I imagine people are probably asking themselves: ‘Does one vote really count for that much? What does it matter?’ It’s always touching to see someone holding their thumb up signifying they’ve just voted. It’s often accompanied by a massive smile. This feeling is hard for us to grasp; voting is something we do every year. All around the world it goes on and most the time it doesn’t make headlines.

President Barack Obama votes in Chicago in the 2012 election
President Barack Obama votes in Chicago in the 2012 election

It only seems to make headlines when citizens are disenfranchised, an election is corrupt, or in some cases elections are not held at all for whatever reason. In the last few years, it has been stunning to see the numbers of people willing to die for their fellow countrymen and women to have the right to vote and have popularly elected leaders. If suffrage is so important for people to be willing to die, then why do we never seem to care about voting?

This observation is certainly true in student elections. It’s sad to see in many university elections that only half or less of students vote. At St Andrews, the sabbatical officers have influence over bringing issues to the forefront of the student body or to the University Court and administration. They also have significant responsibility over their respective areas. If you don’t vote in an election, especially in one where the effects of a vote are so tangible, then you really have no right to complain about the result.

Voting does not take a lot of time, but it means the world to many people that have fought for this right. I know many people will say that they don’t know anything about the candidates, but that’s why The Saint has made it as easy as possible to understand each candidates’ policies. Read their interviews with Saint editors and take a look at our manifesto analysis for each sabbatical candidate.

If you still want more answers then contact the candidate or their campaign. Candidates have spent a massive amount of their time planning and campaigning for your vote. If they are willing to make this large a commitment for you, it would be nice if you could give them a glance and see what they support. If you’re not satisfied with what you read, then vote RON.

This is our election, our SRC and SSC, and our Students’ Association. Make sure you get what you want from your leaders: vote now in the St Andrews Students’ Association elections.

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