Io voto, Io conto: literally I vote, I count, probably translates better as My vote counts.
This Italian poster advocating for the exercise of the right to vote in a labour contract consultation uses a slogan that can be interpreted as a variation of Descartes’ famous Cogito, ergo sum (I think, therefore I am).
My voice counts, by expressing my opinion (voting), I come into existence: I vote, therefore I am. Another message insists: Per tutelare tuoi diritti, usa il modo piu semplice: Vota (To protect your rights, use the easiest way: Vote!)
Also on display this week in Rome was another election-related poster, 400 Millioni per la Porcata (400 Millions for the pigsty), two copies of which had been posted next to the Io Voto poster. This second poster campaigns for a joint electoral consultation, which would regroup in one election day an internal referendum and a regional election, allowing to not spend 400 millions Euro for the birds.
It is quite remarkable for the right to vote to be so ingrained in 21st century Italian society - used to the benefit of universal suffrage - that voters have to be reminded to use (and protect) this right, and that consideration is given to saving on electoral spending.
The reality conveyed by these posters struck home even more strongly as the Io Voto poster was displayed on an official municipal board, recognizable by the SPQR motto. The phrase, the Senate and the People of Rome, was a direct throwback to Ancient Rome, a vivid reminder that voting rights then, during the time of the Republic, were a privilege reserved to patricians, while a number of members of society, such as plebeians, and slaves, were disenfranchised, and excluded from participation in political life.
The history of the fight to obtain voting rights by various groups in various parts of the world is a long one: indeed, it is only in the 20th Century that women have been recognized as being able to vote and granted this right in the Western world.
Although the right to vote is a human right, and identified as such by Article 21 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, it is still a right over which people have to fight to be able to exercise it.
Only 10 years ago, a women rights campaign in New York warned that rights should never be taken for granted, and therefore should be exercised (and protected) if individuals wanted to exist and be counted as part of society.