YOUthGot2Vote!

YOU Vote, YOU Transform!

Young voters comprise the majority of the voting population every elections. This doesn’t only mean the youth can swing the results of the elections, but it also tells us the power of the youth to significantly contribute to the institutionalization of deeper and meaningful reforms in our political system.

Using this power is not only important, but is also necessary and urgent. The country is currently facing a serious political and economic crisis. The space for reforms provided by EDSA 1 and 2 has been bastardized by traditional politicians who put personal and myopic interests above the interests of the nation. Competence, credibility, and good governance have been replaced by popularity, prominent family names, and wealth.

Voting and being active during elections would not guarantee immediate reforms and changes in our political system. However, it is an important start: by electing as many progressive candidates as possible, the chance of having more reforms and changes in our politics becomes greater.

HOW TO CHOOSE A CANDIDATE:

There will be hundreds of candidates that will be running for different positions in the coming polls. Add that to the thousands of voters who will flock to their precints and you’d probably consider skipping this elections and staying at home instead.

Much of the stress that takes place during election day can be significantly reduced if we go to our precincts ready and well prepared. And we don’t prepare for the election on the day of voting itself: this must be done much earlier to have the advantage of time to learn more about our candidates, or our own position on issues.

Here’s a simple step by step guide to a well-informed and stress-free voting:

STEP 1: KNOW YOUR ISSUES

Instead of relying on the candidates to tell you about the issues that you should hear from them, why not do it other way around this time? Remember, elective officials are supposed to represent you and the people’s concern should set the priority issues or platform of the candidate.

One practical thing to do is to list down the issues that you feel strongly about. Many young Filipinos feel strongly about the kind of education that they get, or how accessible education is, or the chances of getting a job after their studies. Others are more interested in their participation in the government’s decision-making processes, from the proposed abolition of the Sangguniang Kabataan to having meaningful consultations with public officials.

STEP 2: IMAGINE THE SOLUTION

This isn’t as hard or difficult as it sounds. We don’t have expect young voters to have the solution to the problems and issues that the country faces. But the idea is, other than knowing what issues the candidates should champion, we should also have a sense on how they should propose to solve or handle issues.

One good way to do this is to contact other youth groups or civil society organizations that have done research on specific issues and have proposed policies or solution to these issues.

STEP 3: KNOW THE CANDIDATES

It’s election season and a lot of traditional politicians are spending millions of pesos to project a different and a more attractive image. This makes it difficult to get more information directly from the candidates, but then we need to be persistent. There are many possible sources of background information on the candidates, if the candidate is a re-electionist, then get a copy of the candidate’s voting record. This would tell us how they decided on certain issues. Obtain a list of the bills that he or she supported or voted against, his or her project and programs, and get a copy of his or her statement of assets and liabilities to see his or her financial or business interests. If a candidate is not an incumbent, then get a copy of his or her platform and position papers. Be attentive to the media reports on the candidate. If worse comes to worse, then brave the candidate’s campaign sortie, where sometimes voters can get a chance to talk to the candidate directly.

Look into leadership skills of the candidate. Does he or she accept invitations to debates or does he or she have the patience to listen to the voters? Are his or her campaign materials accurate?

STEP 4: EVALUATE WHAT YOU GOT

Candidates oftentimes have spin doctors, or political operators, that write their speeches or develop their platforms. This makes it important to evaluate the materials that you have obtained to have a more discerning and critical assessment of the candidate. A lot of candidates avoid ambush interviews from the press precisely because they do not know a thing about important issues and at times this is more revealing than the impressive resumes that were provided by the candidate’s campaigners.

STEP 5: TALK ABOUT WHAT YOU THINK

Talk to your friends or to your family about your impressions of the candidate. This helps broaden our perspectives on the issues that we care about and may even help us obtain more information and data for our political decisions. Remember, though, not to discount your personal opinions or perspective of others. Be broad-minded. Since you are doing this way before the Election Day, you have the luxury of time to analyze all the stuffs that you’ve heard.

STEP 6: TAKE A BREAK, AND FINALLY…

Review your data and compare the candidates, ask yourself who among the candidates champion the issues you feel strongly about. Check, who is doing his or her campaign fair and square. Then choose the candidate that you will vote for.

OOPSS… LAST ONE

Of course if you feel strongly about the candidate, and if you really want him or her to win, you can always join his or her campaign!




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