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The Lie Of ‘Wasted Votes’

Perhaps you have heard this: If you vote for a candidate who is not likely to win, you have wasted your vote. This is either a very silly statement, or it is a mischievous one! In the first place, we must understand that a vote is an expression of opinion – albeit one with elective powers. How can my opinion, which is what my vote represents, be considered wasted, when the very electoral process itself was designed to facilitate such expression of divergent opinions? It is like saying to the minority, your ‘say’ does not count because the majority will have their way anyway – when the very system was meant to enable the minority to have their say, regardless of the overall outcome! Every vote assigned to a candidate counts, because it is an opinion expressed by an eligible voter. For a vote to qualify as wasted, it must either have been properly declared invalid, or lost to ballot-snatching and similar malpractices.

But I believe that some of those who throw these jabs of ‘wasted votes’ at others are not being silly; they know better. They are being mischievous. The mischief derives from seeking to trick others to abandon their convictions and to queue up with them behind some ‘more popular’ candidate. An election is not like some horse race where you win cash because the horse you bet on wins. To win in a race, a horse does not depend on the number of bets it received, but on its running ability. But in an election, the winning candidate depends on how many people decide to vote for him, not necessarily on his ability to perform. And as far as I know, there are no cash winnings exclusively reserved for voters whose candidates win! Whether their candidate wins or yours wins, the truth is that we will all enjoy or suffer the consequences together.

On the other hand, I believe that the ‘likelier to win’ other candidate out there does not need your vote, since he is already likely to win without your support. Do not throw away the vote due your preferred candidate in support of somebody else’s choice. Perhaps the real wasted vote is the one you cast for a candidate you do not believe in and who apparently does not need your vote to win!

Friend, whenever it is time to vote, go out there and vote for the candidate of your choice, even if your choice does not reflect majority opinion. Show that you do have a mind of your own, and that you are not some weak-willed crowd follower. In any case, how many times in our political history have the majority proven to be more sensible in choice than the minority? Besides rigging, coups and fraudulent power manipulations, the chief reasons for our unenviable situation in this nation today are unwise electoral choices of the past, and we have the triumphant majority to blame for those. I consider the minority few fortunate who do not share the burden of this guilt, because they dared to differ, though we all bear the pains of the misrule foisted upon us. Your vote counts, regardless of your choice. Carefully form your most sensible opinion, and honor it with your vote.

Joe Ifah
November 2019