Sunday, October 24, 2010

Why I Voted

Somehow I ended up in a polling booth.

Up until three days ago, I was almost certain I wasn’t going to vote in the 2010 municipal and parliamentary elections.

Part of this was from the bitter taste the last elections left in my mouth – four years ago I had high hopes when I voted for one candidate, who ended losing out marginally - and partially it’s because I had my doubts in the process.

But I’ve come to realize, as I stood in line waiting for my turn to hand in my ID, that deep inside, I’ve always wanted to vote.

There was a buzz, excitement, and even tension around the polling station, but the sight of men and women of every age and background but me at ease. Smiling parents turned up with their children, groups of friends wearing matching colored-shirts, retired elderly men in the thobes and young women, were all here for different reasons, but they also all had one thing in common. They had hope.

No matter which way you looked at it, and in spite of all that’s said and done, these elections are a monumental step towards a brighter Bahrain. It is a slow process, but as a people and a nation, we must stride side by side, step by step, together towards it.

As soon as I went through the registration desk, I was handed the two ballots (for both the municipal and parliamentary candidates) and I made my way to the booth.

A felt a little nervy as I held the pen and stared down at the ballots in front of me, thinking, that with one simple tick, I could have a significant say in deciding the future of my country, at least for the next four years. After a moment, I ticked my choices, with confidence and convection.

I realized that there is no wrong or right answer to this. It wasn’t a test. Whichever choice I made, it must be one that I believed would contribute positively to the wellbeing of my country, and to my hopes and expectations, and addressing the issues that concern me.

Taking the two ballots in my hand, I approach the box where the young lovely Bahraini lady supervising it gives me a nod and a smile, and motions to me to slip the papers in.

I do and smile back. And as I walk out of that polling station, with a spring in my step, I couldn’t help but feel proud of myself.

Things may not be everything we want them to be, and we are surely far from having a complete perfect political system, and we certainly have different opinions, but we’ve come a long way over the past decade or so.

What we must now understand is that our participation does not end at those polling stations. It’s just the start of another chapter. Let’s hope it has a great ending.

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