Voting is both a fundamental right and a critical responsibility in every democratic society. Unfortunately, voter participation in today’s Nigerian community is at an all-time low, significantly impacting our political discourse as well as economic and social outcomes.
While there are various reasons for our society’s political indifference, the gravity of not participating in the democratic process has set the way for the emergence of undesirable leaders.
The increasing negligence of the electoral process has concurrently become innate in the minds of youth, and most especially among the elites.
Electoral statistics over the years have shown the birth of political apathy in our society, while it has been brought to the limelight that, not less than 30% of Nigerians vote despite recording a high increase in voter registration.
Bribery and corruption, embezzlement, a politician’s nonchalant attitude, unfulfilled campaign promises, a lack of finding a long-term solution to a societal threat, religious indoctrination, a lack of political enlightenment, election rigging and thuggery, and the belief that votes do not count are all major reasons why most people do not show interest in participating in politics, except in rare cases.
However, while legal changes to the way we vote are the most effective approach to improve voter turnout, there are a variety of activities that may be taken to urge targeted voters and close relatives to vote.
1. Ensure that they are registered and that they are reminded of the election date: Apolitical persons are frequently unaware of voting procedures. They may not know how or when to register, or they may believe it puts them in danger.
When a voter registers, they feel more involved in the political process, which motivates them to vote. In addition, there are continual reminders of the election date.
Many nonvoters just forget to vote on election day. Even if they realize it on the day of the event, they may have already made other arrangements. It is critical that they are informed about the voting date.
2. Voting is a right, not a privilege: One of the most effective ways of attracting the public’s attention to political engagement is to educate them about their voting rights and benefits.
Voting remains a fundamental right and an important duty that a citizen owes to her country, according to the constitutions of major countries around the world.
Consistent enlightenment of the electorate about their rights as citizens will induce them to feel a sense of belonging and allegiance to their country.
3. Effect of Political apathy: One of the major beliefs in minds of many people is their non-relation to political activities depicting the fact that political participation and inclusion are all-encompassing.
One of the ways to tune them in is, by reminding them of the menace in the society due to their non-participation in the voting process, and that politics affect all aspects of our lives including our feeding.
Feeding them the negative effect of their actions toward political participation will throw them in the light of finding a lasting solution to their societal problem.
4. Scare them about an issue they care about: The government touches everyone’s lives in more ways than one, and everyone has an opinion about how the government should handle various issues—even if they don’t realize it.
A lot of non-voters have very little understanding of what the government does and what levels of government carry out which functions. But almost everyone cares about what happens in their own communities.
Fear is an excellent motivator, and voting is no exception. If you can’t get the masses population to vote for a positive vision of the future, convince them to vote against a vision of impending doom.
5. Let them know the importance of their decision: Another method of encouraging people to vote is to let them know about the importance of their decision.
The outcomes of these decisions such as where to render food aid, the type of law to make, which law to enforce first, and when to come to the defense of the powerless, are often politically made decisions. Inform them that, their decision towards choosing a leader has life and death consequences.
6. Make consistent and personal appeals: One of the best ways to get an individual to vote at the poll during the election is through a personal appeal. A personal appeal is a home visit or a phone call to a specific person.
Completing multiple personal appeals, where the same person visits or calls more than once, is so effective because it creates a disruption in nonvoter’s normal routine, allowing them to break the habit of non-voting.