With a keen interest in British politics, this writer is never afraid to share her opinion.
You Have to Be in It to Win It
The U.K. national lottery has the advertising catch phrase “You have to be in it to win it” and, for me, that sums up voting in the country’s elections. It is all too easy to sit back and criticize our politicians, but if you are not politically engaged, what really gives you the right to say your piece?
Common Excuses for Not Voting
The common phrases shown below are really nothing but a cop out:
- My vote will not make a difference.
- I am too busy to vote.
- I do not understand politics.
- I am not registered to vote.
- I have no idea who to vote for; politicians are all the same.
- Voting will make no difference to me.
- I cannot be bothered to vote.
My Vote Will Not Make a Difference
This statement is simply nonsense. Every vote makes a difference. In the 2017 General Election, some results were very tight with a handful of votes or less between the winner and other candidates.
If you are genuinely disenfranchised with politics, take the time to vote but simply spoil your ballot paper. If you scrawl across your ballot paper something like “I have no faith in any of these people,” your vote will at least be counted. There is something to be said for a revamp of ballot papers to include the option to vote for “none of the above,” but for now spoiling your ballot at least shows you have bothered to vote.
I Am Too Busy to Vote
Talking to a young woman, I was amused and baffled by her response to “Do you vote?” which was “No, I am just too busy.”
It has never been so easy to register for a postal vote in England. There is simply no reason any person should be excluded because of a busy life.
It probably boils down to how important voting is to you. Previously, people working long shifts would fit in voting by either visiting a polling station early in the morning or at night. Polling stations are open from 7am until 10pm which surely allows almost all, if not all, workers a chance to vote.
I Do Not Understand Politics
The claim that politics is a mystery is another strange statement. In the 21st century, the biggest and most extensive reference library is at our fingertips; it is called the Internet.
And here’s the thing: The majority of young people are very Internet-savvy. In the U.K., most have smartphones by their side 24/7.
Times have changed, but there is really no excuse for political ignorance.
I Am Not Registered to Vote
You can register to vote at any time in the U.K. if you are eligible to vote. However, if an election is called or scheduled there will be a deadline to register.
Some people like to brag they have never voted or even registered to vote, but, according to GOV.UK:
You must register to vote if you're asked to do so and you meet the conditions for registering, for example you're 18 or over [ in Scotland, 16- and 17-year-olds have the right to vote in local and Scottish parliamentary elections] and you're British or a national of an EU or Commonwealth country. If you're asked to register and do not do so, you could be fined.
Registering to vote is easier than ever with the ability to do so online. Get into the habit of completing annual electoral checks sent to you by the government.
I Have No Idea Who to Vote for; Politicians Are All the Same
They are all the same, right? Politicians are in it for what they can get out of it, right?
There have certainly been some suspect politicians but the political system is here to stay—and rather than washing your hands of it, how about becoming an active campaigner and making a true, real difference?
Simply turning away and failing to vote allows crackpots and dictators to get a hold of a country and wreak havoc. If you think an Adolf Hitler character could never lead a government in your country, think again.
Why Voting Matters to Me
As an older woman I was raised with reminders that women had campaigned and died to secure votes for women. When I was born, women in the U.K. had only had the right to vote for a few decades. Fast forward a little earlier and many men were also excluded from voting.
My parents were an ordinary working-class couple but they believed that voting was important and instilled that view in their two children. Politics affects everything from your standard of education, to health care, to housing, to the economy, to prices in the shops, to transport, to scientific advances and the well-being of society.
In short, politics affects you and your daily life whether you take part and vote or not. With that in mind, why would you opt for political ignorance and voting abstinence?
Your vote can and does make a difference.
What About You?
Voting in the United Kingdom
- Register to vote - GOV.UK
Get on the electoral register so you can vote in elections and referendums.
- What are the different ways to vote? - UK Parliament
There are three options for placing your vote: in person at a polling station, by post or by choosing someone to vote on your behalf (by proxy).
- Suffrage - Wikipedia
- Brexit: Was It an Anti-Establishment Vote? - Compari...
Brexit and the US Presidential election result have been linked together as anti-establishment protest votes. But is that really the case? What are the similarities and what really motivated Brexit?
This content reflects the personal opinions of the author. It is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and should not be substituted for impartial fact or advice in legal, political, or personal matters.
Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 20, 2018:
My way of thinking too. Democracy is not perfect but we should not squander it. Thanks Liz
Liz Westwood from UK on August 20, 2018:
People campaigned and died so that people like me can vote. With that in mind it seems very disrespectful not to bother.
Ethel Smith (author) from Kingston-Upon-Hull on August 20, 2018:
I also think it may be necessary to make voting mandatory. However if it is mandatory ballot papers should include the option “non of the above”
Democracy is flawed but it is our best option at improving society and more
Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on August 19, 2018:
I agree with you 100% that voting matters. I truly believe that people who do not care to exercise their freedom of voting should then not criticise the outcomes of elections. The outcomes may not be what we wished but then there is always the next election which can change things...hopefully for the better.