A refresher on “Swing” votes
Benign0, the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com, in a post exclusively written for Blogwatch.ph expressed his concern (he says he is neither undecided nor particularly fussed about who will win) over an underrated and underestimated group of voters known as the “undecideds” or the “swing voters”.
Note that the term “swing” also apply in a multi-party system like ours. This is not exclusive to a two-party system. In the United States for example, although it may seem they have a bi-party system (Democrats vs. Republicans), there are actually minor parties that have successfully benefited from a “swing vote”. These have occurred in instances where say, an unsatisfied Republican who is apathetic to the Democrats opted for a third party choice. A similar case for a Democrat also happens.
For the “undecided”, Benigno puts the figure at anywhere between 2-6%, does the Math and arrives at the conclusion that it’s actually difficult to determine its impact on the election results because being “floating” (read: not “flying”) voters, you simply can’t tell where their votes will go.
I guess this is the part where I can honestly say that it can be anyone’s game. And that to hastily conclude that today’s survey-leading candidate will surely win (even with reduced winning margin) may not be entirely prudent. For all we know, those undecided may ultimately form into a solid “vote block” for the second placer. If that happens, then the second placer may actually have a chance.
Now if these undecideds however opt to split their votes on the 3rd to last placer, then 1st placer’s victory is in the bag.
The undervalued and overlooked “Donkey voter”
Alas, there is a segment of voters undeservedly overlooked! This is a group whose criteria for voting for a candidate is as incomprehensible as Partial Equations is to a 3 year old.
Their voting behavior is more unpredictable than the weather and more amusing than a rerun of Takeshi’s Castle.
Neither your multi-million infomercial nor your honeyed-tongue and jaw-dropping good looks can shatter their reinforced wall of apathy and laziness.
You can drop dead in front of them and they wouldn’t care. They are a force to be reckoned with — a law unto themselves. They answer to no one and they don’t give a hoot about foreign policy or climate change or Charter change or whether Manny Pacquiao wins or loses — heck, their indifference is the stuff of legends.
They are “donkey voters” and they are out to take us for a ride — a long, slow ride that is.
Wikipedia describes a donkey voter as “someone who votes for candidates based solely upon the order they are listed on the ballot paper”.
The so-called donkey votes are said to be cast by “uninterested protesting and ignorant voters”. And one of the reasons why donkey votes occur is the lack of “none of the above” option — which compels people to vote even when they are either “undecided” or “unwilling” to vote for lack of a better choice.
If you don’t think this isn’t such a big issue or that it hardly happens in our country, then why, may I ask, is Noynoy hell bent on urging the COMELEC that Vetellano Acosta’s name be stricken out of the ballot paper – a tedious, costly and risky process considering COMELEC’s race against time, when Acosta has already been disqualified in the first place and that any vote for him will be considered void? I’ll tell you why — it’s because of donkey votes.
It’s also the reason why Party Lists vying for a congressional seat have come up with the weirdest of names as 1-AANI and 1-UTAK. Because in the battle of Party Lists, as in the battle for any other elective post, top of page is top of mind.
What does this all mean?
To the “unconscious” aka the ignorant voters, this problem is a shared responsibility between the government and the voting public. However, the government carries a bigger chunk of this responsibility. Election awareness and all activities related to it must be the major thrust of the COMELEC. The lack of “resources” should never be a convenient excuse.
To the “conscious” donkey voters, obviously, nothing. As Jason Mraz aptly puts it, “The remedy is the experience, it is a dangerous liaison / I say the comedy is that it’s serious..” They are simply taking out their frustration about the government on the voting system itself. Feeling hopeless and resentful, they resort to distort the system and play our country’s future like a deck of cards.
These people belong in either one of these two categories: 1) Poorest of the poor who have lost their faith in everything — much less, the electoral process or; 2) The obscenely rich who are so damn sure that they won’t be a penny poorer regardless of who becomes President and who couldn’t care less if the world ended today.
Which category do you belong to? Neither of the two? Swell. That gives us one less donkey vote to worry about. Unless of course you belong to the undecideds. :)
***Note: Donkey voting has been proven to be more prevalent in countries that practice “compulsory” or forced voting. Since voting here in the Philippines, although highly encouraged, remains essentially voluntary, it is assumed that people who bother to register and ultimately vote come election day have a lesser chance of being “uninterested protesting and ignorant voters”.