This… is… DEMOCRACY!

CAUTION: This is Sparta!

So after the first round of the Singapore Presidential Election 2011 (PE2011) results came out last night, I posted this status update on Twitter and Facebook:

If there’s gonna be a recount, can I also recast my vote?

Subsequently, I received comments/@replies to do with breast-beating and vote-splitting.

I also had the pleasure of reading similar-sounding status updates around the same time.

.  .  .  (or maybe -_- ?)

To clarify:

  1. When I posted that update, I meant it as a tongue-in-cheek critique of the decision to proceed with the recount.

    I was fully aware that a recasting of the vote was and is impossible (although I think a run-off vote might be a good idea in the future so that the candidate that is elected goes into office with the support of a clear and distinct majority).

    What I meant was: look, if the difference was 100 votes, I’d wholeheartedly say yes to the recount. But if the difference was 7000 votes, how far off could the vote-counters have been?

    Was it not a waste of the vote-counters’ and the electorate’s time with a decision that was logical in theory but not in practice?

  2. Most importantly, there was no self-recrimination going on when I made that update.

    I think it was a fair contest (to a certain extent, of course – and educated readers are already aware of the extents I am referring to).

    However, there was much recrimination on the parts of others.

    Many people were complaining about how the vote had been split, and if Tan Jee Say and Tan Kin Lian hadn’t contested, Tan Cheng Bock wouldn’t’ve have had his vote share eroded, and he would’ve become the elected President instead.

    I agree that the vote was split in that there were four candidates, so each candidate garnered a share of the vote, however large (or small) it might’ve been.

    But to quote a friend on Facebook:

    Democracy means I suck thumb and accept this Tan.

    There were four candidates; we voted; the Tan of our choice didn’t get in – deal with it.

P.S. To preempt any criticism regarding the picture at the top of my post: yes, I’m also aware that Sparta used to be an oligarchy…

P.P.S. Yawning Bread and Yee Jenn Jong have quite interesting takes on PE2011.

“Your vote is secret”: Voting and ballot secrecy (Part II).

I voted for Obama!

Pursuant (LOL) to my previous post on voting and ballot secrecy, I will now explain what the phrase “Your vote is secret” means:

Common misinterpretation (or myth)

  • Statement: You cannot tell anyone how you voted or how you intend to vote, because that’s a secret.
  • Response: WRONG! Your vote/voting intention is only a secret if you want it to be a secret from everyone else.

Correct interpretation

    Your physical vote is secret i.e. after you slot your voting slip into the ballot box, it will not be traced back to you.

    Please refer to this post to find out why.

So you can tell people how you voted/how you intend to vote. There’s no law which mandates that you keep your vote/voting intention a secret.

In fact, you should discuss your voting inclination as often as you can.

Discussions of voting decisions, processes, etc. are always healthy and fruitful – so long as these discussions are conducted in a healthy manner, of course, with healthy people who are willing to listen to you, as opposed to, say, antagonising/intimidating/irritating/pooh-poohing you.

In any case, to prove my point about voting secrecy:

I stated yesterday that my vote would be going to Tan Jee Say, right?

But for all we know, I could’ve voted for Tan Cheng Bock… right?

The only way to confirm how I actually voted would be to:

  1. Obtain a court order to open up the ballot boxes (and – mind you – there needs to be a good reason for this),
  2. Trace my polling card number to the voting slip number, then
  3. Find the correct voting slip hidden among the hundreds of voting slips in the ballot box.

Who is going to go to all that trouble???

P.S. Just to clarify, I did eventually vote for Tan Jee Say.

I don’t agree with everything he says.

However, his campaign statements about the Presidency are not only most closely aligned to my own values as a human being, but also most closely aligned to what I want in my President.

Moreover, Agagooga a.k.a. Gabriel Seah made a very insightful comment on Twitter about this matter:

One should vote holistically. If I had to agree with everything a party/candidate said I’d spoil my vote.

Voting with my conscience.

(Like Vincent Wijeysingha, I write this post with the intention of it being a “transmission of personal political view by [an] individual to other individuals, on a non-commercial basis, using the…Internet or other electronic means”.)

When I go into the polling booth tomorrow, I’ll be voting for Tan Jee Say.

I’m a bit late – I guess that makes me a swing voter? Heh.

Nevertheless, the decision to vote for Tan Jee Say only crystallised early this morning, after I did some long and hard soul searching.

In short, my decision has been based on how:

  • We need leaders who have the vision and the moral courage to do what is right and stand up for things that are wrong – not managers who do what is easy and follow the status quo, even in the face of possible wrong-doings.
  • Gravitas is extrinsic but ethics and morality is intrinsic; the former can be learnt, but the latter… Well, the latter can be ‘learnt’ too. But if you don’t have a heart, you just don’t – and people can see it.

Last but not least – and this is the most important reason of all – it’s time we did the right thing.

We spend so much time telling our children to do the right thing: be upright people; tell the truth as it is and not what you hope it to be; care for your fellow human beings; don’t cut corners; serve your community and nation with pride.

Imagine if I go into the polling booth on Saturday and place a cross next to a candidate who:

  • Will not hesitate to curtail a person’s freedom, or at least, will perpetuate the ignominy of taking away a person’s dignity; or
  • Will be easily satisfied in preventing transparency rather than enabling it; or
  • Will allow discrimination against ordinary human beings like you and me to carry on unabated, or at least, fail to prevent hatred from spreading; or worse,
  • Does not even have the courage to order his child not to skive or shy away from meaningful but laborious service?

If I vote for a person like that, how do I, in all good conscience, then go into class on Wednesday morning and look my students in the eye and say: hey kids, I did the right thing?

I’d be a morally bankrupt individual if I did that.

So come Saturday, I’ll be voting with my conscience, and I’ll be voting for Tan Jee Say. Come with?