I love voting.
I registered to vote as soon as I could and have engaged with every election since then, including the London Mayoral elections. As a civil servant I can’t express a political affiliation but every opportunity I like to remind friends and family that they have a duty to vote, I don’t care who they vote for as long as they go out and do it!
I have never been to a polling station, I use a postal vote because since going to University I have never really known where I’ll be on polling day so it seemed to make more sense. I have expressed in the past that I think voting should be compulsory, I make no bones about the fact that I think the poor turnout in elections is appalling – honestly I think if you don’t vote you just don’t have the right to complain about what those who are voted in actually do!
Some try to counter this argument by saying that there isn’t anyone to vote for, and that by not voting this is essentially protesting. I haven’t ever agreed with this, there are a huge number of candidates in my experience…surely one of them is acceptable to you (have you read each and every manifesto?) or even turning up to vote just to spoil your paper at least shows willing.
In the elections earlier this year I didn’t vote.
Not because I didn’t want to (well I didn’t really want to – only one party sent us any kind of propaganda so I didn’t know much about the other candidates, and the party that did put something through our door at least
once a day – one day three times – so I was a bit miffed with them all) but because I wasn’t able to. I was out of the country and my postal vote didn’t come through before we went.
It felt a bit strange, I felt I couldn’t really complain about the outcome if I hadn’t voted! (of course I did still complain…)
I didn’t find it liberating, I found it quite sad.
It did make me rethink my views a little, I have often argued that voting should be compulsory to encourage more people to engage with the political process. What would have happened if I had missed a compulsory vote?
Looking at the stats for the proportion of people who votes I still feel that the proportion who, like me, had unavoidable absences is likely to be very small. I think more needs to be done to engage and get people to vote, many seem to see it as a chore. I recall from childhood knocks to our door with offers of a lift to the polling station, but nowadays we seem so busy with our lives that it’s just a hassle.
It’s a difficult one, but something I’ll think more about, I think compulsory voting still gets my vote, but maybe there’s another way…