03/05/2017

How do you vote?



Tomorrow sees the first of two polling days we’re having in the UK this year as millions of people cast their votes. So if you do vote (and if not you really should) how do you go about making your choice? This is not as straight forward as you’d think with people using several different reasons for placing that X in the box....
"Psst, there's someone impersonating you two booths down"

“I always vote Conselabouril”
Though less than in previous decades, there are still some who always vote for the same party each time. Like football fans they remain loyal whatever the fortunes of the party and no amount of argument to the contrary is going to convince them to change their allegiance.  As time passes it may well be that the party changes as well so in fact the person is now voting for something different. Some families have a pride in their voting choices to the point where it is a disgrace if Sally grows up and doesn’t vote Labour but instead chooses the Greens! Tutting and disapproving looks follow.
“Snails are the most important issue at this election”
Some people’s voting habits change as their lives do. When they’re students they vote for the party that will do the most for students. When they come to moving onto the property ladder they want a party that will help ensure cheaper mortgages or rents. They have kids- suddenly Education, education, education is the priority. Promotion at work? Mmm, which party will give me lower taxes? Before you know it, it’s the party that ensures a better retirement or looks after pensioners. People who drive will not be interested in a party that wants to invest in public transport, conversely those who travel on trains won’t want to support increased investment in roads. If you have a family member who is ill, the NHS suddenly becomes a voting priority. And so on. Is this selfish? I didn’t say that.
“It’s not about me..”
The reverse of the above is the voter who ignores their own situation completely and votes for the party that they feel will do the best for the country or the environment. They see the wider picture but unfortunately few of them actually go into politics.
“I don’t vote. Politicians always get in”
There are some people who don’t vote because of a distrust of politicians and/ or the political system. They say they don’t support any of them because they never fulfil election promises and “they’re all the same”. Which is a perfectly legitimate opinion except that these are the sort of people who then spend the next four years moaning on and on and on about the government!
“I’m still not quite sure actually…”
The politicians like floating voters because it is really this group that they can most influence. These voters follow the coverage, weigh up the issues, the claims and counter claims usually narrowing it down to a couple of candidates and may not make their final choice until moments before they walk into the polling station. It may well be that afterwards they change their mind again but you can’t go back and change your vote!
“Eggnog Jackson has been a great MP”
Of course what should really happen in an election is that you vote for the candidate who you feel will best represent and work for your area. It’s not supposed to be about national political issues, it’s about local ones. These days not that many people do vote in this way. When they go to vote on 9th June for example the names of Theresa May or Jeremy Corbyn will be on their minds rather than the names of the local candidates. There are exceptions with some MPs being such good constituency workers that people vote for them regardless of their party.
“Ha! Ha! Ha! I shall protest vote”
The supposed protest vote where people do turn up but spoil the ballot paper. They may scribble over the names of the candidates or write something about the price of cabbages or whatever vexes them at the moment. They may amusingly (?) add an extra name at the foot of the ballot paper like VADER, DARTH - Sith Party to show what a wit they are. Or they make a political statement. They imagine hilarity or outrage will ensue when these forms are opened up but the fact is if the paper is not completed correctly it is just put in a separate box and not counted. No one in any authority will get to see their doodlings.
Happy voting! I wonder whose job it is to attach string to all those pencils?

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