When the time finally comes that you are at the polling precinct, these are the questions that you should be asking yourself before you vote. This way, according to Comelec Spokesperson James Jimenez, you will make the best choice possible.
As of this writing, there is a little more than a month left for voter registration for the 2022 elections. We are now down to the wire to get as many people registered as possible. But while it is nice that you are registered, it’s a whole different ball game to actually show up and vote. People always talk about the importance of voting and how it is your opportunity to change the country but rarely are we taught how to actually prepare for voting. But as with anything of responsibility, make or break efforts such as the power to vote, requires serious thoughts and questions.
For some people, voting is just a showing up to your polling place, marking down a list of names, and calling it a day. But it is so much more than that. Voting should require thought, research, and discernment. So, what then do you need to do? To answer that question, we sat down for an interview with Comelec spokesperson James Jimenez who shared the five questions he feels every voter should ask themselves before they vote.
1. WHAT ARE MY CORE VALUES?
As simple as this sounds, this is the first and most important question you need to ask yourself prior to even sitting down to vote. Before considering who to vote for, you need to know what you believe in and what you stand for. What are the values that you hold dear and the issues you advocate for? This will help you decide on who you want to vote at the polls. “If they don’t know what they stand for, then they will be adrift as they will not know how to navigate the flood of politicians who will be asking for their vote.” You can only make a fully informed decision only when you know and understand what you want.
2. WHAT IS THE STATE OF THE NATION?
Once you know what your core values are, the next thing you need to ask yourself is, what is currently happening in the country? Read the news, talk to your friends and family, see what people are saying online. Do you like what’s currently happening in this country? Or do you want things to change? Look at how your life is and how the lives of other people are. And when you go see things for what they actually are, do not always accept things you see and hear as the cold hard truth. Always dig deeper and know the facts. “You have to question the assurances and the blanket assurances given to you by the people that you have held to be authorities, right? Look beyond the glib announcements, look beyond the ‘we’re doing excellently.’” Answering this question will give you an easier time when you have to finally vote.
3. WHERE DO THE POLITICIANS WHO ARE GOING TO BE ASKING FOR YOUR VOTE STAND ON THE ISSUES?
The next thing you should do is see where the politicians and would-be politicians stand on the issues. This question is meant to help dissuade you from voting for someone just because they are charismatic. Do they agree with the same issues as you? Do they advocate for policies that you agree or disagree with? You have to know what these politicians believe in because the worst thing you can do is vote for someone who goes against what you hold near and dear to your heart and mind.
And more importantly, do not be afraid to ask the politicians about the issues when they are being vague about them on purpose. We sometimes have this tendency to get intimidated by the fact they are elected officials. In reality, we are the ones who brought them into power in the first place. “Do not be overwhelmed by who they are. Do not be overwhelmed by the horse race coverage of media for elections. Figure out if they know what they are talking about.”
4. WHAT ARE THE PROPOSALS OF THE POLITICIANS?
It’s a story we always see time and time again every election season. Politicians promise the world and people vote for them. Yet, they fail to deliver on most of their promises. “When someone said, you know, I’m going to achieve x, And people were just like, ‘Oh, well, achieving x is a good thing. So, let’s see what happens right?’ No.”
If we want to stop being duped by politicians again, then we need to ask the right questions. Know what their proposals are and how they plan to achieve them before voting. And getting an overarching answer is not acceptable, because, at this point, you should know the details and nitty-gritty. Yes, this may seem like such a chore and we rarely do this, but it must be done so that you know whether a politician is telling the truth or it’s just smoke and mirrors. “Find out how they want to achieve x. Find out what that is going to cost you because that is one of the most undiscussed things about election campaigns. No one ever talks about what the price will be. No one ever talks what the bill is gonna be like when it’s gonna be due.”
For example, if COVID-19 will still be an issue by the time the 2022 elections roll around, and it most likely will be, figure out what the politicians’ plans are for curbing the pandemic. And don’t just be satisfied with generic answers. Know what their concrete plans are and if they don’t have any, then maybe you shouldn’t vote for them. It is also important to sift through what they have done as a response to the healthcare crisis. Doing so will certainly enlighten you on the kind of person and leader someone aspires to be. “We all just get so enamored of the shiny potential that we forget to ask how we’re going to get there. And that’s what politicians have to have as well. Not just vision, a realistic roadmap—a roadmap that is grounded in reality, a roadmap that takes into consideration the human cost of these things that you’re promising.”
5. WHO WILL I VOTE FOR ASIDE FROM PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT?
When it comes to the campaign season, most of the attention goes towards who is running for president. But if the past year has taught us anything, it’s that our attention shouldn’t only be centered on the president or the vice president. The question you need to ask yourself when exercising your civic duty is, who will I vote for all the way down the ballot? When you get your ballot, you’re not just going to vote for the president and vice president, you will also vote for 12 senators, your next congressman, governor, vice governor, mayor, vice-mayor, councilors, and party list. Your participation in the elections will actually be of consequence because you get to help determine who is elected into all levels of government.
Even if the president has the most power, the most immediate change you can see is in your community, barangay, and city. Those changes will be determined by the councilors and the mayor. James Jimenez shared a story of how when he first voted, he only bothered to think about who he was going to vote for president. For every other position, he just marked the first name on the list. It was only when he saw how bad his barangay was that he realized that he should vote wisely for all positions.
So, when you get to your polling place in May 2022, don’t just think that you are voting for one person, because you are voting for every position on the ballot. Your choice does have real-world consequences. You may feel that you are just one vote, but realize that your vote matters and can be the difference between someone winning and losing. Remember, our future is at stake here. So, vote wisely.