Election Special! Dinosaurs for Democracy

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political_dinosaur_vote_web (1)I have been struck down with some kind of virus for the last few days; I am a highly efficient snot producing machine with a high temperature and razorblades in my throat. I’ve spent the last couple of days wrapped up in a duvet watching day time TV and generally feeling sorry for myself.

I am on the mend today, not 100% but definitely feeling more human and less like a swampy sweat monster from the planet catarrh. I hope I am not catching, as I had to vote.

I HAD to vote. Not legally, I mean. In the UK it’s not like in Australia where voting is compulsory; in the UK Voting is a democratic right, and you can choose not to vote.

But I think everyone should choose to vote. Especially women.

2015 marks the 97th anniversary of women in the UK being entitled to vote (although it would be another 10 years before women has the same voting rights as men). It also marks the FIRST TIME that women in Saudi Arabia are allowed to vote.

The right of women to vote has been hard fought for by passionate women who put their health and lives at risk so that future generations would have the right to have a say in who governs us.

I’ve heard some “excuses” as to why people might not vote this election and they disappoint me.  It’s a safe seat, my vote doesn’t matter. The polling station is in a really inconvenient place. I don’t like any of the candidates/parties. None of these are good reasons not to vote.

Sure, your seat might be a safe seat, but if every single person in your area who doesn’t think it’s worth it because it’s a safe seat turned up to vote, and they vote for someone other than the present incumbent, it’s not such a safe seat any more, is it? That aside, Every vote is counted, even in a safe seat. Every. Single. Vote. So even if it’s a landslide victory for the present incumbent, a huge rise in other votes gets noticed. Even safe seats can get a shock – but only if you go and vote.

I had to wander around looking for my polling station earlier, as my local borough had inconveniently given me the wrong address for my polling station. Annoying at the best of times, but when you are ill it’s not fun at all. But while I was voting, an old woman, unable to walk without a wheeled walking aid, arrived to vote. It took her several minutes just to walk from the gate to the polling station door. She was so exhausted, she had to rest while the poll station staff fetched her water. And then she left to walk home again. It must have taken her ages. But she came out and cast her vote because voting is important.

Don’t like any of the candidates? Spoil your ballot. It will count. And you will have voted. You will have attended the voting booth and sent a clear message that none of the parties represent you. If you really don’t want to vote for any of the candidates, don’t. Add a box at the bottom that says “none of the above” and put an X in it. Write NO TO EVERYONE across the paper. Draw pair of ovaries. Whatever. Just go to the polling station and get your ballot paper and commit your minor act of civil disobedience. It’s still more productive, and more empowered, than not voting.

Once I’d eventually found the correct polling station and was in the booth, I spent longer in there than I ever have in all my years of being old enough to vote (I am old enough for this to be my 5th General Election). Previous years I’ve known who to vote for and been confident enough to put my X in the box without a second thought. This year I’ve put more thought into my vote, and how to vote, and what my vote means. At the point where I stepped into the ballot box I  still hadn’t decided whether to vote purely on policy, to vote local, to vote as a protest, to vote with my heart, to spoil my ballot.

I don’t like any of the current political parties, to be honest. I don’t think any of them have 100% viable policies. I did the Vote For Policies test and was surprised to get 100% Green as the result; I don’t actually agree with all of their policies. I also don’t particularly like my local Green candidate. I DO like my local Labour candidate, a lot. I think she’s brilliant for the area, and for women. But a vote for her is a vote for Labour, and I no longer feel they represent my beliefs. I could vote for TUSC; their candidate impressed at a hustings I attended and as a public sector worker I am very much behind a no-more-cuts drive. I’m in a pretty darn safe Labour seat – my vote for any other candidate would be little more than a protest vote. I could draw a dinosaur on my ballot paper.

All of these options were open to me as I stood in the booth, running over all my options. I did make a decision. And the beauty of our voting system is that I am entitled to an entirely confidential vote. I don’t have to tell anyone what I chose. But I could choose. I was free to, and had the right to, make my choice about the government of my country.

Which way I voted, or what I did with my ballot paper, that’s far less important than the fact that I voted.

Whatever your political inclinations, whoever you think should win, whatever your reasoning behind what you put on that ballot paper – you should vote today. Because you can. And that’s a powerful thing.

RDPP

10 comments

  1. I didn’t know who I was going to vote for until I was standing in the booth, only who I wasn’t going to vote for. I still don’t know if I made the right choice. But I reckon even a “meh, I’m not sure about this” choice wins hands down over not voting.

    1. I feel like you never really know if you made the right choice until you see what that person does for the people. It’s hard to tell if who you are voting for is doing things for the better because with politics there’s always an under lying issue that people have in mind.

  2. It never occurred to me to draw a dinosaur! (what a sheltered life I lead) I would like to think I would spoil a ballot paper if I couldn’t face an option, rather than not vote at all. But I do think the Students Union “Re Open Nominations” box at the bottom is a good idea that should be adopted, then if nothing appeals we could always vote RON.

  3. I very much agree with you about the importance of exercising one’s right to vote. Participation in democracy was a hard won fight and to not vote not only does a disservice to those who fought so hard to earn the franchise but also undermines democracy. I cannot tell you how utterly frustrating it is to be as politically aware as I am and yet not be entitled to vote in either my home country or country of residence. As someone who no longer has a right to vote on either side of the Atlantic, I find it galling that so many people might opt out of voting entirely. I hope there is a high turnout and that people are more politically engaged than predicted.

  4. People have the whole mindset wrong. Voting shouldn’t be a chore, it should be a celebration. If I was the sort of person given to throwing parties I’d have an election party. We’d all go down to the polling stations with balloons and those things you blow that make a noise, and as every person came out from voting we’d cheer.

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