Local and European elections take place tomorrow! If you’ve never voted before - and I admit that I haven’t - here’s what you need to do to have your say.
- Find your polling station. By now, you’ll have received your polling card in the mail. This will have details of your polling station. If you haven’t received your polling card, you’re probably not eligible to vote this time. Make sure you register before next year’s general election!
- Voting hours are between 7am and 10pm. Make sure you attend your polling station between these hours.
- The staff will ask your name and address to make sure that you’re registered to vote. You can show them your polling card, but you don’t have to have it with you - they will find you just the same.
- You will be given two ballot papers: one for the local election, and one for the European election. Both will have an official stamp, and will each list all the parties and their candidates for whom you can vote. Read them carefully! Some of the parties have similar names - for example, An Independence from Europe is not the same as UKIP!
- Take your ballot papers to the voting booth, and follow the instructions on each paper to cast your vote. Don’t let anyone else see how you cast your vote. Also, don’t write or doodle anything else on the ballot paper other than what you are instructed to do. Otherwise, your vote won’t be counted.
- Fold each ballot paper in half and put it in the appropriate ballot box. As there are two elections tomorrow, staff will tell you which ballot paper goes in which box.
- You’re done! Go home and have a nice cup of tea. Democracy is good.
"But who do I vote for? They all look nasty!"
You aren’t alone. Just watch South Park episode 808, Douche and Turd, where students at South Park Elementary must vote to choose their new mascot - a giant douche, or a turd sandwich.
In the past, I haven’t voted because I believed that none of the candidates worked hard enough to secure my vote. However, I have since reached the conclusion that the parties actually want as few people to vote as possible.
Sounds insane, right? Surely a party wants as many voters as possible to turn out, and for the majority of those voters to vote for them. Sadly, this is not true. By narrowing the field of voters, and by quietly encouraging voter apathy, parties have greater influence over the outcome of the election. It’s easier to get three sheep into a pen than three hundred, right?
Stick it to the man. Vote.
It’s extremely likely that none of the parties will actively seek your vote, so the hard work is on you. Think about the changes you’d like to see and the issues that mean the most to you. Then check each party’s manifesto. Are their priorities the same as yours? Do some background research on the candidates, and get a good feel for the kind of politician they are. Be an informed voter!
The most important piece of advice I can give you is this: Don’t feel as though you have to vote for the big parties. The ballot paper isn’t limited to those red, blue, yellow and purple parties, so look for other names (and other colours *wink wink*) to vote for.