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August 20, 2022



Martina Horváthová: Freely casting your ballot is your right - and nobody elses business!

30.9.2018 9:57
Martina Horváthová (PHOTO:  Personal archive of Martina Horváthová)
Martina Horváthová (PHOTO: Personal archive of Martina Horváthová)

I vote regularly in every election. If I ever were to not vote, I would feel pangs of conscience for having neglected my duty as a citizen.

That sounds a bit idealistic, I know, maybe even a bit "nerdy". Let it sound that way!

If I am part of something, then I feel a responsibility for that "something" to function - it's just how I am. In the case of citizenship, the least I can do is to sacrifice 10 minutes at the polls casting my envelope with my vote into the ballot box.

Just as it would bother me not to cast my ballot, it would also bother me to give my decision about whom to vote for to somebody else. Moreover, during the last few elections I have been rather disappointed that my favorite candidates lost.

My vote was counted, though. My vote was counted in favor of those whom I believed should win.

I had the opportunity to express my opinion - and I took advantage of it. I am glad we live at a time when we can vote freely.

Nobody today dictates to us whom we may vote for and whom we may not. If you know somebody in your area who is doing that, telling you that if you don't vote for a certain candidate or party that he or she will evict you, or fire you, or is threatening you with anything else, or if anybody offers you some money in exchange for casting your vote in a particular candidate's favor, or if they promise you a gift or anything else, then that person is breaking the law!

The polling place is arranged so that nobody else has the slightest opportunity to see whom you have cast your ballot for. That means nobody can ever find out what your vote was.

If you do not know whom you should vote for, then start taking an interest in who is running in your municipality. Usually you can find that out from the candidates' fliers, posters or websites, but the very best way to find out is to go to an event where you can personally meet the candidates and ask them directly what they are planning to do for their fellow citizens.

By 2 October at the latest you will receive a full overview of all the candidates, mailed to the address of your permanent residence - the ballots for all the political parties, movements, associations as well as independent candidates - who want to be come assembly members in your municipality. You do not need that overview to go to the polls, though - you will be given ballots there to choose the candidates once you are in the voting booth.

We Roma have the right to vote, but unfortunately, many of us do not know what to do with it. By not participating in the elections, we are abandoning any responsibility for who will be chosen.

The excuses for not voting are always the same: "Nothing will change anyway", "I won't vote for those kinds of people", "What will I get out of it?", "They won't do anything for us anyway", etc. If they were to take our right to vote away, though, we would crave it and fight for it - of that I am sure!

Me džav! A so tu?


Martina Horváthová, translated by Gwendolyn Albert
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Local elections 2018, manipulation, opinions, Parliament, Politics, Roma, Senát, vote-buying


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