As I write this, it’s election season in the United States. Hillary Clinton is the Democrat’s nominee, while Donald Trump won the Republican nomination. Because it’s voting season, I want share with you how elections run in other countries.
The campaigning season can be as exciting there as it is here. The candidates will travel from town to town to make speeches and encourage the people to come out and vote for them. They will often give out hats and T-Shirts to their supporters with their picture on them. Usually, the incumbent president or party will outspend the opposition candidates in gifts, parties and appearances.
On election day, voting takes place, mostly at the schools. The electoral commission in the capital city prints out voter lists, and sends their delegates out to the villages, towns and cities with official ballots and a big, wooden box with a straight, long hole on top. The boxes open on top, but remain locked up and sealed by the electoral commission in the head office. Each electoral commission official is responsible to make sure that the election runs smoothly in his area of responsibility.
The Election Process
Each ballot has pictures of the candidates on it. The voter circles or marks an “X” beside the candidate of their choice.
After the electoral commission official confirms that the voter can legally vote at this polling place, he or she goes into the classroom, chooses the ballot for his or her candidate, and drops it into the box.
Ideally, the ballot box never leaves the sight of the election official from the moment he leaves the electoral commission office until he returns. However, sometimes, things go awry, particularly in places where support for the man in charge is particularly strong.
I once heard about how a candidate won an election in a particular country. According to the census, there were a few states in this country with no more than 20,000 people living in them. When the officials finally tallied the results, more than 200,000 voters in those states seemed to vote for the candidate in power! Clearly, someone had filled the ballot box with extra ballots along the way when no one was looking.
Thankfully, with the rise of technology, it is becoming easier for voters to monitor the way an election is run. In many countries, candidates can send their supporters out with their cellphones to watch how the election goes. If they see anything strange going on, they can let headquarters know about it, who can in turn ask the authorities to check out the situation. Then, when the voting is over, they can report the results to their leaders by text or by phone.
The Side Effects
Sometimes the candidates succeed in overriding the voters’ choice. At other times, a powerful candidate
who did not expect to lose, clearly loses. In either case, it often results in terrible violence, which shakes the core of a nation’s security. Vehicles, shops and buildings are burned up. Often, students are the first group to express their frustration when things are unfair. As a result, they run around town in large groups beating anyone they see with clubs and starting fires. As the disorder spreads, so does the looting. When this happens, the innocent who are in the wrong place at the wrong time can become the scapegoat of the crowd’s rage, and can easily lose their lives.
When this happens, the government is forced to restore order in any way they can. Sometimes this means opening fire on crowds of protestors, or beating them in anti-riot gear.
That’s why I’m so thankful for every fair election that happens around the world. It would be far better for a candidate who loses an election to accept the inevitable results than to put up a fight to overturn them.
Good leaders are unwilling to exchange personal ambition for the freedom of the people to choose their candidate without interference.
A good leader loves their country more than they love themselves.
What was the first presidential election you voted in? Please share it with us in the comments below.