Election Special: 7 Reasons It’s Important To Vote Today
7Reasons.org is avowedly apolitical, but the 7 Reasons team are not. As individuals, the 7 Reasons team concur on some things politically – the colossal importance of Sussex in the world order and subsidies for internet humourists are two of them – and differ on other things. So when we go and vote today, we’ll probably vote differently: That’s a good thing, we live in a democracy. The important thing is that we’re voting: Here’s why.
1. Local Issues. Never mind the fatuous faux-presidential debates featuring Smug, Clunking and Irrelevant, you won’t be able to vote for – or against – any of them anyway (unless you live in Witney, Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath or Sheffield Hallam, that is). You’ll be voting for the person that you feel can best represent your interests, both locally and nationally; the person you think can pressure your local council into mending pot-holes or providing stocks for people that park in cycle lanes (I’m still waiting for a reply to that letter), because that’s pretty much what your only contact with your elected representatives will be. You don’t decide who’s going to be Prime Minister, the parliamentary representatives of the majority party do that, but you can decide who represents you and your interests there.
2. Expenses. The parliamentary expenses scandal showed us that there’s serious cross-party corruption in Parliament. If the incumbent of your local seat came out of the expenses scandal badly, this is your chance to remove them from office. Even if you don’t care about politics, you should surely care about integrity; and how many more duck houses and moats do you want to pay for? I’ve always wanted an orangery by the way, if anyone’s buying.
3. Complaint. If you don’t vote then you can’t complain about things afterwards. I haven’t met a British person that can go for five hours without complaining about something, let alone five years. If you have to go that long without complaining you’ll probably explode, or perhaps you’ll find an inner serenity and be elected the new Dalai Lama. Either way, not complaining is uncharted territory and it’s probably dangerous.
4. Other Countries. In the 2005 general election the turnout was 61.3%, which means that 38.7% of people that were eligible to vote didn’t do so. Okay, some of those abstainers probably had good reasons – illness, unforeseen events etc. – but that’s still quite a shameful figure, and if you don’t vote, you shame the nation. After all, if North Korea can get an electoral turnout of nearly 100% then so can we. Or perhaps that’s a bad example. But elections are infrequent in the U.K. and it really isn’t too much trouble to go out and vote. It’s not like we live in Switzerland where they have to vote (on average) seven times per year. Voting’s not difficult and you don’t have to do it often – it’s much like washing a duvet.*
5. See A School. When was the last time you were inside a school? If you’re old enough to vote then you’re too old to attend one. Election day is the only day when many grown-ups can turn up at schools without being asked to leave. Our local school has a hopscotch court painted onto the playground, which is a great place to play while you contemplate how to vote.
6. Change. All of the main parties have told us – many times during this campaign – that a vote for them is a vote for change. I love the idea of being paid for my vote and I’m going to put my change toward a tiramisu. Or a wok. No, a tiramisu. Definitely.
7. Sacrifice. Many, many brave and noble people laid down their lives and sacrificed a great deal so that they – and we – would be able to live in a democracy. We only finished paying off the Americans for the Second World War in December 2006, so most people eligible to vote today have made sacrifices too. We dishonour the efforts of many people by not voting. Also, if we don’t exercise our democratic right to vote, we leave others to dictate policy to us and by our apathy, we impose dictatorship on ourselves. Second World War propagandists would have probably put it like this.
*I’m wrong. It’s way easier to vote than it is to wash a duvet, or even to carry one of the blasted things: You need arms like Mr Tickle.