Opinion: 10 reasons as to why you should vote
- Credit: Eastern Daily Press © 2010
I know it's annoying when you've decided that you're not going to vote and then someone starts shrieking at you that if you don't vote, you haven't got the right to complain about the outcome of the elections, the way the country is being run or anything whatsoever, really.
I also know that lots of people genuinely feel that there isn't a single political party that reflects the way they feel and that they're not happy with the tried and trusted method of 'picking the lesser of many evils' and voting for the least offensive candidate rather than the most impressive.
And I know that lots of people wish there was a 'none of the above' option on voting forms so that you could register the fact that while you're interested in the way your country is governed, you're not confident that any of the candidates on the form you've been given are the woman or man for the job.
The argument goes that if you're asked to choose between a manure sandwich, a manure salad or a manure soufflé (I wouldn't usually use the word 'manure', I would choose an alliterative word) then it's unsurprising that the majority of people would prefer to remain hungry.
I, however, would stand in the voting booth until I'd decided whether I fancied a sandwich, a salad or a soufflé. And in several decades of being able to vote, only once did I decide that I'd shun the lot, spoil my ballot paper and write 'none of the above' on the voting slip.
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That said, I'm not going to tell you to vote. Whether or not you vote is up to you, and as I can't be sure that you'd be voting for the right colour, I don't want to get all high and mighty on your backside only for you to go to the polling booth and wilfully help an idiot to be elected. Although if you did, I'd have to accept it because that's what democracy is all about, which really sucks if you're going to vote for an idiot.
But anyway – here are 10 reasons why I'll be voting on Thursday:
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1) Voting is one of the precious few things that you have to be an actual bona fide adult in order to do. You can drink, smoke, fornicate and even drive a car (albeit illegally) before you reach any numerical milestones, but you can't vote until you're 18. Don't gamble or buy a gun or do jury duty or get a mortgage, forgo riding a motorbike above 125CC with a licence, adopting a child or driving a lorry between 3,500kg and 7,500kg (with the appropriate licence) forget making a will, pawning things, getting married without your parents' permission, buying fireworks or consenting to your body being used in a medical study and go and vote, instead – it's fun*, free and means you can claim to be civic-minded. * See point (6)
2) You can have some fantastic 'debates' with candidates on your very own doorstep. This year, these have included the Green representative telling me that he doesn't like my column because 'it's too tabloidy'. I should point out that I didn't ask him if he liked my column, he just told me. This is, I would suggest, not an ideal way to get a prospective supporter on board. The bloke from Labour said he loved my column. (LAB GAIN)
3) I like the building where I get to vote. It's a church. Which is nice.
4) Voting is the literal equivalent of 'Liking' a post on Facebook and that's cool, right? (Is it? I have no idea. I hate Facebook. I only have it in order to stalk my children).
5) Whatever I said above, it really is quite important. I'd rather you spoilt your ballot paper than didn't vote at all.
6) Voting is like being in a secret society, like the Red Hand Gang or something out of an Enid Blyton book, minus the lashings of ginger ale. When else do you get to go in a special, secret box in order to make a special, secret decision? You can tell EVERYONE that you voted one way when in fact you voted another – I have a friend with a rabid Tory as a husband and at every election she tells him she's voted Conservative. SHE HASN'T.
7) Again, regardless of what I said, if you don't vote, I don't really care what your opinion is about having an MP that said one thing before the election about student loans and then the polar opposite after winning the seat. You can't bleat about the need for change without taking any of the responsibility for trying to make it happen. Well, you can, but if you do you're really irritating.
8) But really, I'm not going to tell you to vote.
9) Although you should.
10) Please vote on Thursday – you're not Russell Brand, you're not stupid, an awful lot of people went through an awful lot of hardship in order to win you the freedom to vote so the least you can do is get off your bum and get to a polling station.