With the 2015 general election fast approaching on May 7th there are many people who have still yet to exercise their right to vote throughout their lives which is concerning. What’s more concerning is the amount of citizens who believe it is a waste of time. I overheard a conversation the other day between two young people that went something like this;
Person 1 – So, are you going to vote this year?
Person 2- Nah, probably not, I think it’s a waste of time.
Person 1 – Yeah me too, I probably won’t bother
Person 2 – Yeah, I feel like all the things they’re promising don’t affect me.
Overhearing this conversation really troubled me and I felt as though these people were really missing the mark by a long shot. Voting is most certainly not just about electing the next prime minister or pushing for a particular party. I believe that voting is one of the most important humanitarian privileges we possess here in the UK for several reasons and you don’t have to be clued up on politics to be able to vote.
Many people are of the attitude that their vote doesn’t matter or it won’t count. Imagine if every single person in the UK thought that? What would happen? There would be no vote and therefore no democracy, in extreme circumstances we could even have our right to vote abdicated and a dictatorship could take hold where there is no freedom.
Furthermore not voting means that extremism will hold a much larger proportion and the system will become dominated by people who are motivated by just a single idea, known as one issue voters. If you believe that the system is already corrupt and that you shouldn’t vote because of it is an entirely contradictory notion. As a non-voter you reinforce this negative and obstruct the quality of the government.
Historically speaking in the UK there are also a few things to bear in mind. In 1780 only 3% of the population voted in a general election. in 1832 if you wanted to vote, you had to be male, 21, and own a property of certain value, plus, if you lived in a town or city it was unlikely that you could vote at all. Only 46 years ago was the privilege to vote for both men and women at the age of 18 granted. In only 1928 were men and women both equally granted the right to vote and only in 1918 following WW1 were women allowed to vote at all. Despite democracy being invented 2500 years ago in Ancient Athens there has been hardship, suffering and death in order for the entire UK population to be granted the right to vote.
Democracy literally means people power/ rule by the people. The ancient Greeks invented it to replace their autocratic state because the powerful aristocratic rule was leading to exploitation and in turn causing social, economic and political problems. Although the state wasn’t truly democratic and only a small minority in the population could vote it is the earliest known example of democracy.
Therefore I strongly believe that voting is exercising our democracy. Democracy is a voice and your whisper contributes to it being heard. Even if you have no political preference there is a still a way in which you can be counted in the vote but not actually vote by spoiling the ballot. All you have to do is go along as if you were voting but ruin the ballot in some way by scribbling on it or ticking all the boxes. There are so many ways to spoil the ballot but it may be a option that is rarely considered. For those of you who are uncertain who to vote for or really don’t have any idea about where their political preferences may lie I will link a few websites below that might help you decide should you wish to! I will also add a link to a video on how to spoil the ballot if you’re still really confused by the concept!
Find out which policies you agree with:
How to spoil the ballot with Hannah Witton: