Deplorable Democracy

When I was in my first year of high-school, I learned a valuable lesson in democracy. I learned that each person has one vote, or “one man, one vote” as the call for universal suffrage goes. When I went to elect a student representative, upon showing my school ID and getting my ballot from the registration desk, I carefully selected my preferred candidate.

On my way to cast my vote into the ballot box, a senior student stopped me. In a genuinely friendly manner, he asked who I’d voted for, so I felt obliged to tell. But he didn’t agree with my choice. He took my paper ballot, tore it apart, and threw the pieces into a trashcan. I protested and pieced my ballot back together, but I was no longer allowed to cast it, since now it had been “invalidated”.

Upset, I went back to the registration desk, requesting a new ballot. But the person behind the desk was implacable. “It’s one man, one vote,” she said. “I’m not allowed to replace an invalidated ballot.” You see, that’s how democracy really works. Of course, the real lesson I’d learned that day was that democratic elections are only as democratic as those more powerful than you allow them to be.

Not much.

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Deplorable Democracy by Mathijs Koenraadt is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.