Monday, March 23, 2009

Who Should Vote?

A Simple Formula to Solve this Big Problem!!

By Sojourner

I have been following the debates… radio debates, street side debates, coffee table debates, the Saturday rice pudding and maw and goat water debates, the after church service debates, the village shop debates, at the office debates… all the debates… which are all about the non-national issue. And let me tell you it is a big issue…. and many people see it as a big problem!

Most of the persons in these discussions felt really strongly and passionate about the issue. It seems to be the general feeling that non-nationals ought not to have the power to skew the results of our elections.

There is also a lot of discussion around how the ALP set up the non-nationals against the UPP (that discussion is for another time), and how only citizens of Antigua and Barbuda should be able to vote in our elections. This latter view has received much attention, I dare say, by Antiguans and non-nationals alike.

Yes, and interestingly enough, there are some non-nationals who believe that it is only when they attain citizenship that they should be accorded the privilege to vote. And I also heard one non-national saying that he would support a move to amend the seven (7) year citizenship requirement to 10 years. I agree.

Now I know that this won’t go down well with many of the thousands of non-nationals who voted during our recently concluded elections on the basis of their temporary residence status. And the ALP supporters will certainly not agree.

In fact some persons on the radio discussions are stepping very lightly on this one… as if to insist that if only citizens vote that this is wrong, uncivilized or even unjust… So I have been thinking about it quite a bit!

And as usual, when I have some difficult problem to solve, I normally use a simple formula to solve it. I developed this strategy since my school days... especially for difficult math problems. Sometimes the numbers made my head spin and the problem seemed unsolvable… But then, I just reduced it to simple terms, using everyday situations, using simple numbers, applying simple logic and voilaproblem solved!

So I am going to do the same here…. So who gets to vote?

I have been a member of numerous organizations: community organizations, church organizations, youth organizations, women organizations… some formal, some not so formal… But for ALL these organizations, voting is always an important activity. So important that there is a lot of regulations around it... Most of the constitutions stipulate who can vote and under what conditions they can vote.

If you are a member of Lions and Rotary or Soroptimist, or POWA or your church youth group, or even the ALP, you would know that you cannot vote unless you are a member. That’s almost a no brainer!

So you have to be a member in order to vote. And in order to be a member, you may have to go through a period of probation, during which time you cannot vote. Mark you, you have to contribute to the group during this period and prove yourself worthy of membership… But that contribution does not entitle you to the vote. And if during this period of probation you do not measure up, either the probationary period is extended or you are asked to leave. The group feels no obligation to you! But, if you are determined… you may try to get into another group. That’s up to you!

There are some organizations which stipulate that once you gain membership that you should be IN for about a year, before you take part in general elections such as voting for the executive body. And, of course, in addition, some organizations also require that you are a member in good standing in order to vote.

It sure seems as if voting is an important activity.

So I am extrapolating the lessons… and I am seeing that most of us in Antigua and Barbuda see voting as the most important activity in the life of an organization. And we all agree that in organizations only members should vote!

So that’s it. For our general elections only nationals of Antigua and Barbuda should vote.

End of story!!