Why should I vote?
According to statistics, just over a third of the electorate voted in 3rd May’s 2012 local election. This number increased to 66% in the 2015 general election (the highest voter turn out in 18 years), 65% voted in 2010 general election and 59% in 2001 general election (The Telegraph, 2015). These statistics suggest that voting is complex and multi-faceted. Some individuals enjoy the freedoms that form part of living in a ‘fair’ and ‘free’ society, however, when it comes to exercising voting rights, some individuals often become apathetic.
Who am I voting for?
The UK voting system is called First Past the Post and currently, elections happen every five years. The person with the most votes in the constituency wins and the party with the most seats has the majority and then forms the government. You are not voting for a party leader, you are voting at the local level (unless your MP happens to be a party leader). Prime Ministers can call snap general elections and this is what happened in 2017. There are 650 constituencies in the UK and each area has its own representative or MP. When you vote you are voting who you want to represent your area in Westminister, who will understand your local needs and fight for them on the national stage.
Reasons why people don’t vote.
Here are some people’s excuses for not engaging in the political system:
- “Voting won’t make any difference – what I think doesn’t matter.”
This is a popular reason for people not engaging with the political system. However, during the London 2012 mayoral elections, the votes ran very closely between the two main candidates. The number of votes which declared Boris Johnson the mayor was extremely marginal a mere 3%. This shows that individual votes do count.
- “There’s no choice between the main political parties, they are all the same.”
There are differences in policies election promises. Do your research, find out what separates them? Vote for other parties if your beliefs do not align with the main ones, it’s your responsibility to. Also if the main parties are not giving you what you want, get involved in trying to change something that really matters to you by becoming part of a local politics or community initiatives.
- “I don’t really care.”
Some people don’t care. They don’t care about how much tax they have to pay, they don’t care how many people are unemployed, they don’t care if they can go to university without getting a loan and they don’t care how often their local streets are cleaned. So if this is the actual case, never vote; but in the same vein, never complain about any of the things that are listed above.
- “I’m too busy.”
Some people are busy. However, the act of voting takes very little time, polling stations are conveniently placed in areas where people can access them easily. Many polling stations are located very close to homes in local schools, community centres or churches The act itself takes less than five minutes from start to finish.
- “The voting system is unfair.”
I won’t go into much detail but some people believe that the “first past the post” voting system which is used in UK general and local elections isn’t representative enough. The Liberal Democrats election promise of 2010 was to do away with exactly this, and a referendum was called on the voting system. The results were that most people wanted to stay with the current voting system and not the alternative voting system, or proportional representation.
Voting is a duty which should be carried out by everyone who can. People are dying for their right to vote as we speak. Therefore, I see no point in wasting it, use it as best as you can.