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Jordan: To Vote, Or Not To Vote?

Categories: Middle East & North Africa, Jordan, Elections, Technology

The Jordanian Twitter community debated the merits of voting or abstaining in the parliamentary elections to be held November 9, 2010.

The government-run campaign, Sm3naSotak (Let Us Hear Your Voice) is running a series of tweets, such as this one [1]:

Why Vote? To break the stereotype! “Young people are lazy, they don't care, they won't vote.” Let's prove them wrong! #JO #JoElections

This campaign, though, has created considerable backlash from Twitter users such as Tarawneh [2] and Hamzeh [3], who wrote respectively:

@sm3nasotak telling us 2 vote 2 avoid being labelled with generalizations isn't a great strategy. dont mock our inteligence plz #JoElections

@sm3nasotak Voting in #JoElections is an endorsement of a system that doesn't give people equal representation. Why should I endorse it? #JO

Hamzeh then issued a series of tweets [4] illustrating the disproportionate voter representation:

An MP from Amman represents on avg 93k ppl while an MP from Karak represents on avg only 27k! & they dare ask why I won't vote? #JOElections

Mohammed Yousef writes [5]:

I won't cheat myself, I won't cheat Jordan: I'm boycotting #JoElections

MJalaljel tweeted [6]:

Most of the smart/educated/thoughtful ppI I know (including me) r not voting…

But later he linked to a site [7]giving biographical information on each parliamentary candidate:

#jo But for those who're voting in the next #JoElections, you HAVE TO check this before making your decision:http://www.ftf-jordan.org

A few Twitter users, in contrast, have been active in supporting the election and urging others to vote. Yasser Burgan [8] tweeted:

Will be flying to #Jordan tomorrow to go exercise my constitutional right & duty: to #Vote in the #JoElections

Several also retweeted the result of a local survey [9], conducted by Jordanian tweeter and blogger Aymen al-Saket. The survey was circulated amongst tweeters active under the #jo hashtag. Al-Saket did not describe how many responses he received, but logged at least 35 responses, which he cites as 40% of active #jo tweeters. Amongst the results are that 19.8% of respondents say they will not vote, as compared to 80.2% who say they will.

Al-Saket himself says he will vote because,

1. It is a Constitutional Right.

2. There is a need to initiate the change, to start it, not make it.

3. If I don't vote, Parliament Members will be chosen on my behalf.