Doing and pride

For the uninitiated it might seem to be a simple process.

But the exercising of our franchise is a task that involves much sacrifice from several people committed to ensuring that our democracy works.

And they are deserving of the highest praise.

On the day of a general election most people simply have to journey to the various polling booths around the country and mark their X. It is a duty that often takes fewer than 10 minutes.

But for others directly involved in the process it can be a most arduous undertaking.

Staffers at the Electoral and Boundaries Commission are perhaps appreciative that they are called upon only every five years to activate a system of checks and more checks, posting of documents, and facilitating personal voter requests of some description or the other.

Members of the postal service also have the task, often on six-day work weeks, of ensuring that all relevant electoral documents and paraphernalia reach citizens to facilitate their voting.

Campaigning is perhaps the most exhaustive period of all for most involved in the process.

Our police officers are regularly required to work beyond the call of duty, at multiple meetings, and on their off-days. They are also faced with a situation where if a general election is called they can have vacation leave denied or be recalled to work from local vacation.

And there are the long-suffering journalists who bring the words and photos of the general election to the homes, phones and computers of those who prefer to stay indoors during the period of the campaigning or who obviously cannot or do not want to attend them all.

The journalists’ task involves working both day and night to ensure that the issues are ventilated and circulated for public consumption. But the journalists are not alone in this context. Advertising staff frequently have to make adjustments to their schedules, happily so, to accommodate the increased volume of late advertising that comes into the various media houses.

Those with the responsibility of getting printed information to citizens or making it available via the Internet are faced with a situation where midnight will find them away from home every day that the general election campaign lasts.

Politicians cannot participate in the process alone and therefore need the services of agents, supporters, canvassers, sound and lighting technicians, chauffeurs, mechanics, printers, writers, builders, IT professionals, designers, cooks, decorators, and more.

Our politicians are to be praised as well. Theirs is a hard task that can involve three to five meetings every night, talking themselves hoarse, bottling dew and rain, and insults. Though the prize at the end is great for some, for many it is frequently an exercise in futility.

On the day of the general election, work for hundreds, perhaps thousands, starts at 5 a.m. or earlier and can end past mid-night.

Our police officers are those first out of the blocks at polling stations around the country, followed swiftly by polling officials, and the grind begins.

And again, let us not forget those in the broadcast and electronic media who from the crack of dawn will be the ears and eyes for many wanting to follow the process, or are simply tasked with providing discourse and data for the education and enlightenment of the citizenry. Professionals give of their time freely to engage the public via these media in this process.

And throughout it all, there is one noticeable factor, one quality that is evident every five years or whenever we the people conduct this most important affair.

No one complains.

It is an acknowledgement that this is our democracy and it can only work if we put country before self at this critical juncture and make the personal sacrifices to ensure that we have a smooth and successful general election.

Many have made greater sacrifices than us, including giving their lives, to bring us to this stage of self determination.

What we do on February 21, and the personal sacrifices that we make leading to that day, we do for love of country.

Long may our democracy last.

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