Voting 101

537

You’ve all heard it by now. May 6th 2010 will be the tightest election that the UK has seen in a long while and certainly the most exciting that we have been old enough to experience. For most of us this will be our first time voting in a general election.

It is true that the political parties make it hard for us to see the point in caring, what with all the mess-ups they have made, the infighting and the contradictions, but it is up to us to make the effort to find out about what they stand for and what their plans are.

The older generations have left the country in a big mess, and like it or not it is now our generation who, just starting out in the real world, are going to have to deal with it. And like it or not, the government we choose will also play a part in that so it really is important that we choose wisely. This cannot be a popularity contest. Yes Obama got in, and yes he was a great personality, but it was his policies just as much as his persona that got him through.

A quick Google search of the main parties and five minutes perusing their websites isn’t a great deal of time, and since they are going to be running your country, I’d say it’s worth it to make the time and make the choice. And yes you will unfortunately have to sift through the petty inter-party slandering to find the real information but it is there.

If you really cannot stand the system at all and think that every politician is a waste of space then still go to the polling booth and spoil your paper so that you’re still using your voice to actively show your disillusion (oh and also, try being a politician yourself for a month…)

No you don’t have to vote; but as students, new graduates, young workers, first time home buyers, new parents… The actions and choices of this government WILL affect you. So if you are not out there on May 6th scribbling on a piece of paper, then there better not be a single peep from you about government decisions for the next five years!

So what if you want to vote but you have no clue how? Here’s our idiots’ guide…

Option 1:

  • Call or Email Lancaster City Council on 01524 582905 or [email]elections@lancaster.gov.uk[/email] to check whether you are registered to vote at your university address (you should be automatically registered if you have lived on campus since October).
  • If you are, you will receive a poll card through the post before the election telling you where to go on May 6th to vote.

Option 2:

  • If you are not registered in Lancaster, then unfortunately the deadline has already passed to register in person here. However you may still have been registered by your parents at your home address.
  • To check this, contact your local council (if you’re not sure who this is, you can enter your postcode on aboutmyvote.co.uk and they will tell you).
  • If you are already registered at home, then you still have time to apply to vote by proxy (where someone else i.e. a parent can vote for you). This can be done up until Tuesday April 27th 2010 (i.e. sent by first class on the 26th!). To apply, you will need to complete, sign and send off (to your local council) a form which can be printed from the aboutmyvote website.
  • Your elected voter will then receive a special proxy poll card in the post which they can take with them to a polling station and vote on your behalf.

Option 3:

  • Even if you have been too late to register to vote in this election, it is still worthwhile to register yourself now so that for future elections you will be well prepared!