On Voting and Deciding not to Boycott

In Uncategorized on May 24, 2012 at 10:24 am

For most of this month, characterized by frenzy debates and ridiculous campaign posters, I decided at an early point that I would not cast a vote in Egypt’s first presidential elections. Two nights ago, however, I changed my mind.

Why did I initially not want to vote? Three reasons: first and foremost, as a political science student, the L word (legitimacy) carries a lot of weight with me. For me, voting= legitimacy to the organizing body of the elections. To give my legitimacy the current governing body, The Supreme Council of Armed Forces, (S.C.A.F) was and still is problematic. This is the same governing body that is responsible for countless deaths, copious amounts of violence, and overall, the major fail of Egypt’s security situation over the past months.

Second, none of the candidates running in this election appealed to me. The dissemination of information regarding each candidate’s plans was poor, with a debate (an inadequate one at that,hosting only two of the candidates for whatever reasons) being scheduled a mere 11 days prior to the election.

Third and finally, the powers of the president are still not clear to me. This can further be elaboratedhere, in this article written by Hani al-Aasar, which, in simple terms, explains how we have candidates that are basically running for a position without a job description.
So why did I decide to vote? For the sake of not being deemed politically irrelevant. My answer to this can more eloquently be justified in a blog post found here

In this blog post, written by T. Foad regarding the effectiveness of a boycott with the parliamentary elections held last year, Fouad writes:

“But while in the case of a referendum, a boycott may be a valid tactic if the referendum requires a minimum turnout to be valid, it isn’t the same with general elections. Lack of participation can further distort election results leaving the boycotting groups susceptible to political irrelevance. The truth is the electoral process is one of the most effective government tools in achieving conflict resolution and when unfair, one of the most effective tools in suppressing opposition. Collective decisions are sanctioned regardless of election turnout.”

At the end of the day, my logic is that a candidate will be chosen, and taking myself away from that process will not prevent that from happening.

That said though, with this election I refrained from telling others my choice of a candidate, simply because I did not feel strongly enough about who I voted for to propagate him as a choice to others.

I’d like to conclude by extending my utmost respect and appreciation to those who chose NOT to vote. Your voice may not be counted in the final tally; however, it is definitely recognized by myself and others who share your sentiment of doubt and hesitation regarding these elections.

Note: This blog post was not written with any intention to influence others;rather, I intend it to explain to me what the hell I was thinking if I regret voting a couple of weeks, months, or years from now.

  1. Great article and good decision. It captures the dilemma we all have gone through regardless of ideology. Well done!

  2. […] Yesterday was The Moment. The Big Moment. The Moment Egyptians have been waiting for since January of last year. There was a lot of anxiety and worry concerning the announcement. Not a single individual Brice or I had spoken with were happy about either of the final candidates, Shafiq and Morsi. Many of my friends said they would boycott the run-off voting because it pained them to cast their vote for either men (to read a friend’s decision on this click here). […]

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