VOTING – A RIGHT OR AN OBLIGATION?

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By: Diego Bieber

A few weeks ago marked sixteen years since I made Aliyah at the age of twenty-two and decided to leave Uruguay to continue my life in Israel. During my first twenty-two years in Uruguay, I voted twice. In Uruguay voting is obligatory. Therefore, I had no alternative
but to go to my designated polling place. Today, looking at the situation retrospectively, I find it curious that I do not even remember who I voted for. I guess it is because I was never interested in Uruguayan politics, and I knew that someday I would continue my life
in another country. I do remember that on the Sunday of polling day, most Uruguayans were excited about the elections, while I was in a bad mood since I felt I was forced to do something I did not want to do. But I must admit that what bothered me the most was that, due to the elections, football games were suspended that weekend.

But since the day I made Aliyah, my relationship with politics has changed 180 degrees. There is no day that I do not wake up and glue myself to the radio to hear what is happening with the government, especially now with the approaching elections. Never in
the last sixteen years did I think whether or not to go vote. To me, the answer was clear: of course I would, it was my RIGHT. Unlike how I felt years ago, since I arrived in Israel, I no longer think about whether I am forced or not. Since I came to Israel, voting, for me,
is a choice, and therefore, there was no chance that I would lose the right to speak my opinion, to be able to express my point of view and what I think is best for this country…
MY COUNTRY.

This April 9 will be different for me. For the first time since I made Aliyah, I will be out of the country for work, and I will not be able to vote. (When I was a shaliach in Peru, I could vote in the Israeli Embassy in Lima.) When election day was set, the first thing I did
was check the plane ticket I bought a while ago, and then I realized that I would not be able to exercise my right to vote this time. I cannot deny that this situation has bothered me a bit. Many may think that this is because I believe my vote is decisive and that, because I cannot vote, my candidate of choice will lose the elections. To be honest, I do not think that this is the real reason; in all the elections for which I have voted so far, my party has never won, and I do not think this year will be an exception. Instead, I believe that not being able to exercise my right to vote limits my opportunity to express what I think is best for our society. In a way, I cannot influence and be active in the super important process of defining where we are going as a country.

This time I will not vote, not because I do not want to, but because I cannot. And although in a way I feel sorry for what will not happen, I also feel calm knowing that this sadness derives from and shows how much I care for Israel and for celebrating this festival of democracy! For those who live in Israel and have the possibility to do so, DO NOT hesitate to exercise your right to vote… it is a moral obligation.

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