Chris Alexander

On Engineering

Today is the General Election

No excuse not to vote

6th May, 2010

So, the General Election is finally upon us. Months of build-up, three fascinating Leader’s debates, an uprising against the traditional media and some upsets along the way, and now it’s time for everybody to go put their crosses in the box.

Except turnout at this election won’t be 100%; last time around turnout was 61%, up from 59% the previous election.

Now it doesn’t matter whose name or party you put your cross next to when you get to the polling station. It probably doesn’t even matter if you just go to the polls for the purpose of spoiling your ballot. What matters is that you do go.

If you’re unable to make it to the polling station today, then I should hope that you have taken advantage of the numerous ways of casting your ballot while not being around - postal or proxy voting, for example.

If you’re planning not to go to the polls today, then this message is for you.

Voting can take as little amount of time as you like. There are hardly ever large queues, it takes seconds to get your voting cards, and even less time to put a single cross on the page. This morning it took me longer to walk across the street and find the entrance to the polling station than it did to get in, pick up my two vote cards, cast it, get it in the box and get out again.

Polling stations across the UK are also open until 10pm tonight, and if you can’t find 10 minutes in that time period then you are an extremely busy person.

Voting in an election is something we are, gladly, used to here in the UK. Everyone has been given this right by a continuous struggle decades into our history, from world wars to suffragettes, and countless millions have risked and sometimes lost everything to bring you this power today.

Dismissing that your vote is worthless is an insult to the people who fought for so long and against such odds to give you the right to submit your ballot today.

Additionally, there are still people in this world, in 2010, who do not have the opportunity to submit a democratic vote for who governs them.

Just think about that for a moment; this morning I went to the polling station with someone who has never been able to cast a vote, and notwithstanding a serious upheaval in the world’s biggest communist state, it doesn’t look like they will be able to express who they want to lead them for a long time yet.

So get to your polling station and make your vote count today. By not doing so, you forfeit your right to make any comment on the outcome of the election, and certainly don’t get to comment on how the country is run until the next one.