By Muhammad Faiz
Election, as defined in Merriam-Webster dictionary, means an act or process of electing. The second meaning of the word is the fact of being elected as a leader. It is an important period for the people to elect their leader for a tenure.
During the election week in IIUM, it’s common to see banners hanging around, posters everywhere and candidates showcasing their manifestos in the hallway. Not only that, the election process and the candidates gradually become a hot topic among the students.
However, as amazing as the topic is right now, it is still not enough for students to come to vote. According to the statistics recorded by the IIUM Election Commission, the total percentage of voters’ turnout was 56% in 2016. Almost half of IIUM students did not vote for their representatives of their own kulliyyah. What’s more worrying is that the percentage was a decline compared to the previous year. It seems like the Students’ Representative Council (SRC) election has lost its appeal.
It does make us wonder why such thing happened. Why are the educated millennials who are supposed to know the significance of an election did not even bother to exercise their rights to vote? Are the educated ones not educated enough, or are they simply not giving any attention to it?
There must be reasons why such thing happened, and listed below are some of them, based on my own research and observation.
- Lazy voters
Lazy voters, or its synonymy, voter apathy is perceived as the lack of concern among voters in an election. This group of people lacks interest in the leaders and the election system itself. When it comes to apathetic slackers among the voters, it could be detrimental to the election process. These lazy voters might just go to vote without having adequate knowledge regarding elections or candidates. All the efforts could go wasted if their votes turned out invalid, or worse, they might be voting a wrong candidate for a wrong reason.
- Negative connotations surrounding elections
Throughout times, elections have always been associated with negative connotations, especially for the young adults. It is caused by the influence that the general election of our country bring to the campus general election. Somehow, seeing the election environment at the national level have swayed young voters from voting or participating in the election. When we look at the IIUM campus election this year, negative posts regarding the election are still circulating in social media, like accusing someone running for an election after being paid by an entity or a party. Even today, we still have people criticising a candidate for merely giving out free foods for those visiting their campaign booth.
- Time constraints
As for time constraints, it is hard for some students to spare their time to vote as they have a packed schedule to keep up with. Due to the time constraint, they choose not to vote as they prioritise their schedule. This could be the main reason as to why there was only 56% voter turnout in the last election.
However, all students should understand that casting a vote is practising their rights, and to be able to vote is a privilege. When we look at other countries, some do not give equal opportunities for their own citizens to vote. That is something that none of us would want, because everyone wants his or her opinion to be acknowledged. Therefore, it is important for the students to realise just how advantageous it is that we can vote for our respective leaders without any obstacle.
Besides that, all students also need to realise that it is so important for us to carefully choose the right leader. A leader is supposed to be the one who leads and represents us. A leader is also someone in charge to help bring about improvements as stated in their manifestos. Before voting, one must carefully analyse each manifesto that each candidate has before deciding which candidate deserves their vote.
Not to mention, being able to participate in campus election will help foster positive outlook for the general election happening in the upcoming years. When negative connotations surrounding the election subdue, a shift in the young people’s mentality regarding the election can finally take place.
Simply put, it is pivotal and high time, for students to be fully aware of their democratic rights to participate in the election process. By exercising this right, we are actually advocating democracy in the real sense to help bring about a brighter future for us all. ***