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To vote or not to vote, that is the question for women

Should we thank the caretaker government, or the People's Democratic Reform Committee (or both of them) for our confusion over the much-anticipated election? Most of my girl-friends have switched their chat from shoes, handbags and kids to finding the "right" solution to exercise their rights. It's getting more complicated, isn't it?

Tomorrow's election leaves the anti-government side - traditionally keen poll-goers - with a big dilemma. "To vote" or "not to vote", that is their question. To be more precise, the choice is between "vote no" and "no vote" - the latter simply meaning not showing up.

It's a bit different from choosing between a red and a blue handbag. Men who shop with their girlfriends know well how long that decision can take. But women tend to be "impulse" buyers, even purchasing cars on the strength of their design and colour rather than engine power.

But will decisions tomorrow be left to impulse? My friends don't think so. A single vote has meaning, adding to the collective to form a mass opinion. Voting is hardly a hot topic of female conversation normally, but right now it really matters among women. "Vote no" or "No Vote"? is at the heart of conversations everywhere, from hair salons to noodle shops to living rooms, to the social media.

"I'm voting 'no' to show them I don't support any of them," said one friend. A "no vote" would be a bad move, said another. "But we have to go for "no vote"," said a third, who is firmly backing the movement for reform before elections.

As well as ideology there are the technicalities to consider. Twenty-two constituencies in the South have only one candidate each. Each of those candidates must win at least 20 per cent of the eligible votes and these votes need to outnumber the "no votes". So, anti-government people in the South might choose to ignore the PDRC's advice and instead cast a tactical "no vote". And this is just one of many technicalities we must bear in mind before making our voting decision. Plenty of experts, including Election Commissioner Somchai Srituthiyakorn, have chipped in with helpful explanations, but the choice has not been made easier. On the eve of polling, most of my friends are still stuck on the "to vote" or "not to vote" question.

However, one had a sudden revelation thanks to the words of Tarit Pengdith. "I will go for a 'no show'," she said firmly.

Plenty of others saw the light straight after hearing the Department of Special Investigation chief's remark. Anyone who "votes no", is effectively supporting the election, said Tarit. This is as good as a sale person telling you "buy now to get 20 per cent discount on top".

Feelings are high on both sides of the debate, and no doubt the election will be one of the most memorable of all time. While government supporters are busy promoting the vote online with messages and graphics, the other side is disseminating an official-looking form for those boycotting the poll to fill out.

Still, voting is a serious duty enshrined in the Constitution, and thus difficult to ignore. But that doesn't worry my "no show" friends, who insist that their "natural" right not to vote overrides the legal compunction. Nevertheless the prospect of losing legal rights by taking that decision remains.

Complicating the voting choices further is the possibility that the election result could be nullified. Most of us find the complex questions over its legal flaws difficult to digest. But another friend has an easy answer: "My boss said that the Senate election will be held soon and that if we go to vote, we will get our legal rights back."

For those reading this article, I am sure your decision has already been made and is not an impulse one. And blessed with a wealth of information from experts, many of my friends now feel confident about tomorrow.

Some of them are so comfortable with the scenario that they feel like they are getting a 20 per cent discount with an interest-free purchase on instalments.

As for me, I will remember tomorrow's vote for years to come. This is an election in which exercising your right to vote or not exercising it are equally important. No matter how you exercise your right, just do it.

Happy polling day to all.


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