Vote-buying is overrated-A A +A
Monday, October 28, 2013
I RODE a trisikad for an errand yesterday morning and asked the driver how much was the going rate for the vote in the barangay. “Tag-P50 man kuno,” he said. “Ka-barato gud,” I shot back, joking. “Pero naa may nanguli kay wa kadawat,” the driver answered.
In the afternoon, we passed by a school on the way to the office. I saw familiar faces there, some of them going home presumably after casting their votes. There was no talk about them selling their votes.
Two kinds of voters went to the polling precincts for yesterday’s barangay elections. One sold their votes to the highest bidder, the other didn’t. I would like to believe the latter is in the majority.
I would say vote-buying is overrated. In the village elections years ago, one of the candidates for councilor in our barangay spent a fortune to buy votes. Or at least that was the rumor. He ended up topping the polls. A friend, after losing in two previous barangay elections, decided to buy votes for a change. He won.
At first blush, that seems to prove the high rating given to vote buying nowadays. But those candidates would have won the posts of barangay councilor anyway.
In the first case, vote buying was the icing, and helped the candidate gain the distinction of being first councilor. In the second case, vote buying wouldn’t have made a difference had the voters that the candidate didn’t buy didn’t vote for him.
I have observed so many elections already and am convinced that majority of voters vote without the influence of money. The few who sell their votes make a difference only when the count between two or more candidates is close. Besides, many of those whose votes are being bought are supporters of the candidates who did the buying anyway.
Of course, having money in an election can be a game changer, but not only because of the capability of the moneyed to buy votes. One should factor there the ability of the moneyed to wage a decent campaign considering the resources they have at their disposal.
I still believe that the key to winning, aside from having a good product (translation: saleable candidate because of qualification) is having a good campaign strategy and organization. The better qualified bets lose because of wrong strategy and weak organization.
It is our penchant to blame other factors instead of our own failings for the overhyping of the practice of vote buying. But the reality is that we rise or fall on our own terms.
I have seen many people run in an election thinking that their popularity is enough to carry them through the campaign. Examples are some of our colleagues in the media and showbiz types. Annabelle Rama never had a chance against Raul del Mar in last May’s polls for Cebu City north district congressman because of the latter’s superior organization.
It is only in rare instances when popularity trumps good strategy and organization.
And that usually happens when the candidate with the better strategy and organization is not a saleable product.
My point is that if a qualified candidate can find ways to come up with a good strategy and organization despite limited resources, then he or she can beat the less qualified but moneyed candidate.
What I am saying is that let us not put too much credit on vote buying as a factor in winning elections. That will only embolden the less qualified but moneyed people to run in an election and prod the more qualified but funds-challenged to steer clear of the political exercise.
Besides, to say that vote buying is a difference maker is to insult the majority who refuse to sell their votes. I still think that well-meaning voters outnumber the corrupted ones.
Published in the Sun.Star Cebu newspaper on October 29, 2013.