Tuesday, 20 April 2010

No Vote = Less Rights?

by Rachel Surtees

Today’s the day my good friends, today is the day. From midnight this eve, that will be it. No more chances. You quite simply will not be able to vote in this year’s general elections. Done.

There’s a high risk that this ponder will err on the judgemental so I’ll keep it brief.

If you don’t vote, should you have less rights throughout the course of that electoral term? I’m not entirely sure what that would look like, but along the lines of not being eligible to vote in referendums perhaps? Generally having less of a stake in the society that you didn’t help to shape?

Harsh? Maybe. But why not?

Fine fine I love politics; I was brought up on the shoulders of marchers. We all know that blah blah but that’s not what this is about. This isn’t about politics, it’s about us, people, society. It’s about caring enough about yourself and where you live (house, town, country, world) to click here, register and then on polling day take a gentle stroll down to the local polling station, put a little cross in a little box and that’s it. That’s literally all you have to do. Done*.

And if you don’t care enough to do that then why shouldn’t you have less of a say?

Some of the most common reasons I hear for why people don’t vote go along the lines of:

1) They’re all as bad as each other.
Perhaps, but someone will be voted in so just vote for the one that you think is least bad.

2) I want to send a message to the top that I’m fed up with all politicians.
Ok, either hold on to your message until the local elections, or go to the polling station and spoil your ballot paper. Not voting doesn’t send a message to anyone.

3) I forgot.
Don’t forget.

Generations upon generation fought for our right to vote. And yet, somehow it seems that we’ve forgotten that it’s not only our right, but also our privilege.

*if 5,000 more people had “done” that in the European elections and had voted for anyone except BNP, they wouldn’t have got in.

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  1. I really share your frustration and if anything comes out of this general madness that ensued straight after that leader's debate is that the possibility of a higher turn out on election day is actually more likely.

    However, I'm not entirely sure that curtailing people's rights is the correct way forward. In my opinion, bad things always lie in wait if we go down that path. Maybe instead of the 'no voters' getting less rights, those who actually get to the polling booth should be rewarded in some way? I'm not entirely sure that would be appropriate either but we definitely need to find a way to reinvigorate the voting reflex in our country.

    Good post and it sure got me thinking... Let's hope everyone registers today!

  2. Rachel you're brilliant!! As someone from a country where women only got the vote 10 years before I was born ( and I'm not 100 years old!!) I feel just as strongly as you about the absolute need to use this fought- for right.
    So let's do it....

  3. It's tempting to enforce compulsory voting like in Australia. But if you did that loads of scum would come out of the wood work and vote BNP. It's a difficult one. But when intelligent people in a democratic country forego a right that people have died to gain it really is unforgivable.

  4. I have lived here for over 12 years, I pay taxes here, I work here but I can only vote for local elections. I can vote for European elections and elections in my country of origin but not for the elections which result will have the most impact on my life here. Very frustrating.