How to answer the question, “Who you Really voted for?”

Is it really ok to ask someone, who they voted for? If you ask me, I would probably say, there is nothing wrong or right about this particular question. You should never ask someone who they voted for especially if a for or against vote will hurt you. While, the question also depends upon the context, circumstances, and obviously who you are asking to. It sometimes is totally fine to ask someone, who they cast their vote to. But hold on, remember…many times the discussion could turn into something that can be termed as rude.

But honestly, asking someone how and who they voted – is not considered a polite conversation; and let me tell you, it’s not even legal in some places. This question completely resembles asking someone: How are you? – during a pandemic when everybody’s locked into their homes.

Have you ever thought that why people often fight shy of the question that mentions politics? People often shun the questions that tend to comment on their political affiliations, especially in a country like India where political affiliations are a matter of pride and prejudice. Bringing up politics in a friendly manner is fine, but asking them who they voted or is voting for always puts them on a spot. We cast our ballots in confidentiality for a reason.

Ok…Let’s try and understand this: When you ask someone who they voted for, you are naturally going to follow up with a “why?” and no one really likes to justify their choice to someone else. Many people side-line themselves from such a question because they don’t want to be the subject to the tongue lashing about their political preference.

You probably should not ask someone something that is called a “secret ballot”. Mr. Manners don’t suggest you to do so. However, if you really are interested in knowing someone else’s choice of selection in an election, you should probably know how to turn around the conversation without making it a volatile discussion.

According to Mr. Arijit Sengupta, who is a communication professional, “There is no moral or ethical issue if you ask someone about their voting choice. But, of course, it depends upon the situation and the circumstances.” He believes that if a person is fine having such a conversation that asks for his personal choice as far as politics is concerned, then why not.

He also explained that the political culture in India has become a lot more violent and has also changed a lot in the past few years. Therefore, many people in India have started hiding their political views and often avoid giving answers to political questions. People here try to protect themselves from showcasing their political affiliations. He also pointed towards the fast-paced growth of social media in our country and said that people also do not disclose their choice of candidate or political party because of the fear of being judged.

Untangling Spiral of Silence theory:

Since I am a Journalism graduate, I can make you understand through political science and mass communication theory. There is a popular theory in mass communication called the spiral of silence theory. The story states that a social group or society might isolate or exclude members due to the opinions he or she might possess.

As per the theory, a topic is raised but many times, positions are not clearly stated on the subject. This is because the person often tries to either generalise their opinions from media reports or from the personal experience that the other person holds, just to remain in the majority group of “climate of opinions”.

When you ask someone who actually they vote for, is the time when the spiral of silence comes into play and the person asked is suddenly pressurised to think that if their opinion doesn’t belong to the majority side of the opinions, then he will be treated as a laughing pot. Therefore, at times it is noticed that many people try to rescue themselves from such questions.

According to Mr. Sengupta, if we look at the contrarian view, there are some countries that even punish people who don’t conform to the majority of the opinion. Few countries arrest or put the people with contradicting point of views behind the bars just in order to protect their majority. It is in few cases also seen that contrarian viewpoints have to suffer a lot just because they disagree to follow the point of view that the majority follows.

Have you ever heard of ‘vote-shaming’?

I came across this term a few months ago, when I was reading an opinion piece regarding the US presidential election 2020 on “Vote Blue No Matter Who”. The statement ‘Vote Blue No Matter Who’ was just a strategy used as a lesser of the two evils scare tactic to guilt-trip people to vote for Joe Biden. This indefensible tactic used during elections is known as “vote-shaming”.

Don’t you think, it’s not just the US elections but a similar practice is also prevalent in Indian elections too. You might have definitely heard this statement from one of your friends during a heated conversation: If not Modi then who?

This vote-shaming drill often makes the voter think that they don’t fall into a particular ideological line and are on the wrong side in the elections. The tactic simply makes the voters believe that they are waving their support to the wrong candidate who actually doesn’t deserve their vote. These popular quotes and statements at some point pressurises a voter to not reveal his choice of candidate to the other person just because he or she doesn’t want to look like someone who is supporting a wrong candidate.

Everybody wants their opinion to win and that’s the only reason people don’t often indulge themselves in political conversations. This is the only reason many people avoid answering, who you voted for? So, for the next time if someone asks you, “who you voted for?” you can answer them as Mr. Manners suggests that asking someone who are they voting or have voted for is not termed as a polite conversation.