First-Time Filipino Voters: New Investors of Change

It’s less than a month before the May 2016 Philippine Elections. It is highly noticeable once again that the politicians are doing their best to publicize themselves and, of course, their campaigns, plans, and platforms for bringing change in the country. From the simplest and subtle political advertisements to campus visitations, media guesting, and a whole lot more; they are surely trying to reach out for the votes of the Filipino people. Elections are significant in a democratic country like the Philippines. Through it, the country’s citizens can freely choose or select by casting their precious votes to candidates and parties that they trust and believe would help improve the nation. Voting can be considered into two: as a way of participating in elections and as a personal decision. Voting as a way of participating in elections, according to Weissberg (1976) as quoted in Bernstein (1989), and Popkin (1991); is an indirect manner of determining and investing in the future of the country. While voting as a personal decision, according to Himmelweit, Humphreys, and Jaeger (1990); is influenced by factors like the socio-cultural and demographic context of an individual.

First-Time Filipino Voters: New Investors of Change
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Since 2016 Philippine Elections is rapidly approaching and many are first-time voters who are mostly millenials, there are different factors that affect and contribute to their voting behavior. The following points are some of the influential factors for the Filipino voters especially for the first-timers these coming elections:

1. Personal Preferences

These may include several contributing factors like personal characteristics and tastes, social environment, and exposure to media and other political campaign materials. Himmelweit, Humprheys, and Jaeger (1990) added that individual value orientations, attitudes, and group networks have considerable amount of impact on voting decisions. Since voting is a matter of personal choice and subjective in nature, one’s self-awareness also plays a significant role in the decision making process. If a person knows what he wants, what he needs, and what his community and nation as a whole need, it would greatly help in making the crucial decision of who to vote and elect.

2. Media

Media is the bridge that connects the people and their society. Media, as a key and significant player in the society, greatly contribute to the awareness and decisions of the people through its coverage of the elections. This coverage of the elections enhances the exposure of the audience to the world of politics particularly the candidates and their plans. Media also helps the people to better understand the different messages coming from the aspirants for the political world which all plays an important role. Media is also one of the convenient ways for political candidates to sell themselves to the voting public through television and radio exposure and print media exposure like newspaper ads, flyers, tarpaulin, and posters. As Ocampo (1987) argued that people’s intention to vote may be influenced by campaign materials and strategies.

Social Media is also a powerful tool for political campaigns. Since a lot of people are now engaged with different Social Media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; they are now easily reached as target market of politics and its agendas and campaigns.

3. Education

People with good educational background, or even higher educational attainment, are likely to vote because education increases the sense of civic duty and places people in a context where voting is normative as what Harder and Krosnick (2008) mentioned. Having more educational attainment could lead to better critical decisions about voting. Professional experiences also add to the analytical and critical skills of a person applied in the decision making since they already have the knowledge and had the chance to be really involved in their society. Involvement is as well essential because this allows an individual not just to see but to really experience what is good and what is not in his society.

This coming 2016 Philippine Elections is another chance for the country and its people to determine and invest for the future and success of the nation. As much as the elections are important, people must be critical and responsible when casting their votes. They must make sure that they vote with purity and that their votes will not go into waste.  As mentioned, voting is critical. It is the single aggregate act of the people that can determine the fate of a country. Because voting is a decision that carries a load of responsibility, prospective voting public must realize the weight of their vote and how much it can affect the following days of the nation. For the Filipino people, practice responsibly your right to vote and unite as one for the hope of having a better country for yourselves and for the coming generations.