Who Is A Voter?
A voter is a person who votes or has the right to vote in an election. A voter can also be described as a person who is qualified, registered and willing to vote. Voters are collectively referred to as the electorate.
What Is Voting?
Voting is the action of choosing somebody in an election while balloting is the actual process of voting. Voting can take place in public or private organizations.
Types Of Voting
There are different types of voting or ballot systems. The type practised in each country depends on its constitution and political maturity.
1. Secret Voting: In this type of voting, the voter casts his vote secretly. He votes according to his conscience and political convictions. The name, symbols and photographs of candidates and their parties are boldly shown on the ballot papers given to the voter. The voter enters a room and thumb prints against the name of the candidate of his choice and drops it into the ballot box.
2. Open Ballot System: This system is as open as the name implies. It involves queuing of voters or the people behind the candidate and party of their choice or their symbols. They are counted and the candidate with the highest number of votes is declared the winner on the spot.
3. Open Secret Ballot: In the open-secret system, the voters cast their votes in secret with the use of ballot papers and boxes. The votes are counted in the presence of everyone that voted and the election result declared right there at the voting centre. It reduces the fear of election rigging and makes it free and fair.
4. Compulsory Voting: In some countries, all eligible voters must vote, whether they like it or not. The law compels voters to vote at elections. Failure to vote is regarded by the law as a criminal offence and punishable. The punishment is usually by imprisonment or fine or even both.
5. Optional Voting: In this system, individuals have the right to decide whether to vote or not. Here, much education and democratic awareness are needed to convince people to vote or participate in elections.
6. Voting By Post: This system enables those who are not physically present to send their votes by post. This system is subject to manipulation and delay and can only be efficiently practised in countries with highly developed communication system like in the United States of America.
7. Voting By Proxy: This is a method of voting in absentia. In other words, it is the method of giving authority to somebody to enable him to vote on behalf of a person who is not present at the time of voting. It is called substitute vote and it is open to abuse as the substitute may vote against the wish of the original voter.
Responsibilities Of A Voter
A good or free and fair election is not the duty of government or the body conducting elections in a country, but a collective responsibility of all citizens. The voter is also expected to perform certain roles which will make democracy to survive.
1. A voter must realize that voting during elections is a political obligation of all Nigerian citizens. This will make him know that he is not doing anybody any favour by coming to vote, but he is carrying out his obligation to his nation.
2. When it is time for registration of voters, a voter must come out and register with the electoral body before the day of election. In Nigeria, the electoral body is called Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC). The officers of the electoral body will issue the voter with a voter’s card.
3. It is also the responsibility of a voter to preserve his voter’s card which he must present on the actual day of election. Without the voter’s card, there will be no proof that the person is registered and he/she cannot vote during election.
4. Your vote is the only weapon you have to vote in good leaders and vote in good leaders and vote out bad and unpopular ones. So, it is the responsibility of voters to study the programmes of action and promises of action and promises of political parties and their candidates (manifestoes), in order to select who to vote for.
5. The electoral commission usually conducts what they call ‘Revision of Voters’ Register’. This exercise helps them to register new people and update their records. The voter is expected to check his name on the revised electoral register at least 3 months before the election.
6. Another important responsibility of a voter is that he must know his favourite candidates and their political parties. A voter is not supposed to thumb-print twice or vote for more than one candidate in the ballot paper. If you do this, you will be disqualified and your vote will not be counted. So, avoid doing this.
7. On the day of election, a voter should take his card to the polling station and queue up in the line. He must present his card to the officials of the electoral commission, who will check his name in the register. Then he can exercise his voting right for the candidate of his choice.
8. A voter should not campaign for his candidate at the polling station. He mist be law-abiding and take instructions from the electoral officers.
9. It is very important to note that responsible citizens should be good winners and good losers, so no one should disrupt the peace of his community, simply because his favourite candidate did not win.
10. A voter is not involved in the counting of votes, so he must leave the polling station immediately after casting his vote.