There are less than two days for you to register your vote in the 2017 General Election. Registering your vote is an easy act and takes no time at all, so what are you waiting for?
I’ll be honest, it is only over the last year or two that I have become more aware of the political world. It’s not that I never knew of its importance, it’s just that I wasn’t necessarily previously interested. And because of this lack of interest, and I will hold my hands up and say I did not vote in the 2015 general election. – I can’t even remember whether I registered or not. Now, as somebody who has previously ignored their right to vote, I will not judge or shame you if you have zero interest. However, since I now understand the importance of my vote I want to urge you to at least register to vote.
In the past, I have had thoughts like ‘it doesn’t affect me’ or ‘what change can I make’ run through my mind. So, I completely understand that many people go through this internal struggle. However, what I feel is significant about my ‘political journey’ – if you will – is that these are no longer thoughts that cross my mind. Although I am no political expert, I have become far more informed and conscious of how my single vote could help to sway a result. Thus, I want to tackle these thoughts that I have previously had, and thoughts that I know other people have when thinking about general elections:
“It doesn’t affect me”
Wrong – The government are in control of everything in your day to day life. Health care, taxes, human rights, education, employer/employee rights, the economy, and I could go on. Therefore, you will be affected by the outcome of the general election in all areas of your life. So, the argument that the outcome of the election will not affect you has no standing, it affects everybody in one way or another. Therefore, it is important for you to distinguish what you value and what you want in these aspects of life in order to make an informed decision.
“What difference will my vote make?”
In 2010, 15.9 million people did not vote. That is far more people than any party was supported by. Just think about the difference that those people could have made. If even half of these people realised that their votes matter, and can have an impact, the results of the general election could have been significantly different. Alongside this, if everybody who could vote voted, we would have a government that is far more representative of our population. After all isn’t that the greatness of having a democratic society? That it is the people who make the choices and the people who are represented.
“I’m only 18, what does it have to do with me?”
This is your future, more than anybody else’s. In 2015, only 43% of 18-24 year olds voted, compared to the 78% of people aged 65 and over. This means that it is the older generations who are having the most say in your future. Where is the logic in that? No matter what you are doing with yourself, whether you’re in college, at university, on an apprenticeship, or in the workplace you will be affected by the outcome. You will not get this chance to make your voice heard about what is important for YOUR future until 2022, do not waste this opportunity.
“I wouldn’t know who to vote for, so why should I register?”
Voting registration closes on May 22nd 2017, but the general election is not until June 8th 2017. That means you have over two weeks to make an informed decision as to who you want to vote for. Each party has released election manifestos, there are websites you can use to discover which party suits your values, and there are continuous discussions over all social media platforms. Therefore, coming to a conclusion as to who you should be supporting is easier than you think. Even if you get to June 8th and still have not concluded who you want to support, then it is your right to not vote. However, you will not get to make that decision if you do not at least register.
If you have got to this point and have realised your voting potential, please do not just sit back and forget about how important this is. Personally, I do not care who you are voting for. As long as you are making an informed decision that is right for you, then that is perfect. Too often I hear of people who vote a certain party because ‘that’s who my parents vote for” or they vote for the party who is getting the better press, or they vote for who their friends are voting for. Although it’s great you’re voting, these are not informed methods of doing so. So, please, after coming to the realisation of the importance of your vote, continue that realisation with realising the importance of making an informed decision.
Bringing it back to myself, and to demonstrate that I am practising what I am attempting to preach. I have registered to vote in the general election, both in my hometown and in my university city. This is because I am currently back and forth between the two locations. Therefore, I did not want to get to June 8th and discover that I was in the wrong place to cast my vote. I have also taken a couple of quizzes, watched videos and debates and I am currently making my way through the manifestos. This is all to enhance my ability to make an informed choice. So, you see I have done and I am doing exactly what I am asking you to do!
To put it simply, here are some steps you can take to make the most of this general election
- Register your vote. (Students can register at both your uni address and your home address)
- Determine what is important to you (health care, taxes, human rights, the environment etc)
- Get informed on your party options: Read the party manifestos – take some online quizzes, use google
- Measure up the pros and cons each party offers on the aspects of life you value the most
- Turn up on June 8th 2017 and vote.
‘Who should you vote for‘ quiz
‘I Side With’ quiz
2017 Party Manifestos (the ones I could find so far):