By Alvira Ashraf
Alvin Goldman asserts that “our vote, even in large-scale elections, in which we know our vote will not be decisive, nonetheless makes a causal difference to the outcome”, suggesting that we have many more reasons to vote than not to.
Recently, Mr Balon announced that our five candidates for student president at LAET are: Rachael Oloyede-Oyeyemi, Ezgi Ozdemir, Ayesha Amerat, Daniel Mihalcenco, and Casano Kirlew. Congratulations and good luck to each of these strong contestants! As any average Politics student would know, voter participation, although optional, should be highly encouraged in school competitions such as these. Voting for a student president is the right of every LAET student, and exercising this power, which is often taken for granted, is highly beneficial in various ways.
One reason why we should all vote is because it is not only our right, but our social responsibility to participate in the election of governors of the school. This student president election gives us the rare opportunity to use our voices to elect somebody that we feel can represent us best. Students likely know other students much better than many teachers do, and so we are the ideal electorate for such an important process. Voting proves that we care about who our leader is, which I’m certain we all do. Once we are old enough, it is indisputable that many of us will partake in voting in more significant processes from important referendums to general elections. Voting for a student president at school can be an easy way to familiarise ourselves with the process, and enhance our understanding of how elections work, allowing us to eventually use this knowledge to our advantage in the wider world. By exercising our vote in this election, we make necessary decisions regarding how we are represented in the eyes of not only the school, but its partnering institutions and external organizations. Our student president should be an outstanding representative of the desires of the students as a cohort, but whether this is the case is heavily dependent on these students expressing their views in the first place.
Common protests to voting are the invalid assumptions that your vote simply “doesn’t matter”, “makes no difference” or is “irrelevant”. This view mistakenly assumes that elections are solely held for the purposes of electing a leader. One crucial advantage of voting is that it increases legitimacy for the process of the election, upholding democracy. When voter turnout is low, it is less likely that the results are reflective of the population, decreasing their validity. The more people that vote, the more credible the outcome is. Also, importantly, even if the contestant you voted for didn’t win the vote, you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you did support them, and this will not go unrecognized. The school acknowledges the statistics of the election, and you will have helped to spread the understanding of the successes and shortcomings of students’ campaigns. For everyone questioning the probability that their vote will make a difference, you can be assured it is at least higher than 0. And the only reason you may not be influential is if you do not vote at all, in which case it decisively is 0. By voting, you undeniably push your candidate that little bit closer to victory, and elections can be won or lost by one single vote -- who’s to say it won’t be yours?
Voting has the potential to solve the prevalent problem of candidate complacency. By exercising the right to vote, each of us encourage the student president to perform to the best of their ability. Knowing that they are supported by a majority of us can give them the confidence to hold themselves accountable for their responsibilities. Alternatively, a narrow victory may motivate them to prove themselves as the right president. In either situation, the president will feel encouraged to do their absolute best in terms of representing, governing, and forming a bond with the students. When the president recognises how much support they have, they will undoubtedly feel a sense of duty towards us, only offered by the electorate, forcing them to think hard about their decisions and actions. By not voting, we run the risk of signalling to our leader that we do not care about their actions, which we must not let them believe. It is our entitlement to make sure the president is answerable to us, meaning that voting is a necessity.
In addition to being our social responsibility, highly relevant and motivating to the president, voting for student president at LAE is free, easy, and accessible to each and every student. There is, therefore, no good excuse for us not to exercise our right to vote. After all, what’s a school without the voice of its students? I encourage every one of you to research, speak with and evaluate each candidate and vote well-informed and enthusiastically.