There are two topics I dislike: one is the notion of voting as a privilege and the second is turnout somehow providing a mandate of some type on the leader.
Voting is not a privilege, it is a right in the same way that education and health and police protection are rights. Imagine saying that health is a privilege or police protection. It is the government’s duty to ensure we can exercise our right. The burden is on them and not on us.
More importantly, voting arguments about privilege rather than right are usually used to disenfranchise people with the justification that they don’t deserve it. No one needs to deserve it. As a citizen or resident it is your right to vote.
Definition of PRIVILEGE: a right or immunity granted as a peculiar benefit, advantage, or favor
The government is not doing us a favour by letting us vote, we have the absolute right to vote and they have to take it from us. So no part of me agrees that in a democracy, voting is a privilege, if it was a privilege this wouldn’t be a democracy.
In terms of mandate, I have seen many comments saying a low turnout means that the mayor or PCC won’t have a strong mandate. This is a populistic device to rouse some arguments worthy of newspaper headlines. The most important thing is that the system by which we are governed allows this to take place.
It is the system which suffers from credibility issues and not the mayor or PCC. Where are talks of reforming the system or demanding a media as a real fourth estate which actually questions the way things are run.
Why were pcc statements only published on 26 October? Why was the decision to not distribute information allowed to pass unchallenged by the media? The media are meant to be the check, in the people’s name, on government (legislation, executive and judiciary being the other three estates). Demand the media represent the people.
Democracy is about information, transparency, accountability and more than just a low turnout. There are no “shoulds”, as in “you should be voting because people died” etc. There are only benefits to voting such as making people more engaged citizens and letting the parties know who counts. There is less incentive for elected parties to care for the needs of people who do not cast a ballot.
The system provides the mandate. The arguments about the mayoral mandates just provide fodder for the headlines.