The forthcoming General Election here in the UK on 12th December 2019 is one of the most important this country has had to endure let alone suffer. Aren’t they all? BREXIT has dragged on for over three years without any sign of a conclusion. The political system is paralyzed. Put those two elements into a constitutional petrie dish and there is bound to be a growth of that most dangerous of political viruses; boredom.
That is why, regardless of the political allegiances and loyalties of every single individual qualified to vote does vote. Even if that means voting for a least-worse choice than not voting at all.
Turnout for General Elections in the UK and let’s be honest about this; is abysmal. In the election in 2017 turnout was 65%. The turnout for the EU Referendum was 72% which again was abysmal considering the gravity of the choices available.
Still, at 65% the UK is ahead of Canada, Hungary and Greece. Is that something, as a country with a constitutional history of over 800 years and looked to as a bastion of democracy, be proud of? No, it is not. At 65% the UK languishes in 17th place in a league table prepared by the World Atlas.
Belgium, at the very heart of a Europe described by those who want the UK to leave as “undemocratic” is in pole position with an electoral turnout of 87%. Sweden is in 2nd place with 83% and Denmark in 3rd with 80%. Most surprisingly the United States, considered to be another beacon of democracy in the world, does not appear in the top twenty with a turnout in the last Presidential election of 55%.
If you live in the UK, are qualified to vote and have not registered to do so, then; why not? If you are in this category by the time you read this you will have missed the registration deadline of 26th November. If you are already registered to vote and are considering not voting at all; then why not?
Any excuses, and that is all they are, excuses rather than reasons, pale into insignificance when compared to the sacrifices previous generations have made. Sacrifices made so that you can take a few minutes from your life to partake in the privilege of putting a cross on a piece of paper. Don’t fall back on excuses such as “I was too busy at work” or “I had to get the kids from school and do the shopping.” None of those are valid.
If you want to see those sacrifices made by previous generations being repeated today in 2019 then tune into any news service and bear witness to the ongoing demonstrations in Hong Kong, Chile and beginning to erupt in Iraq.
Any decision not to vote in any democratic society is not an act of rebellion. It is not the same as a young person in Basra wearing a keffiyeh over their faces risking their lives confronting a policeman. It is not the same as a doctor on the streets in Santiago supporting the demonstrators by administering first aid to those hit by rubber bullets or tear gas cylinders. It is not the same as the students in Hong Kong holding out in a university knowing surrender will place them straight into the Chinese criminal system. Those activists are rebelling. Saying you are "too busy" or "cannot be bothered" is not rebelling.
What ‘not voting’ represents is a surrender to apathy. It is a forfeiture of the right to criticize those voted into power regardless of how foolish or crazy you may feel they are once in office.
“Bad officials are the ones elected by good citizens who do not vote” - George Jean Nathan
“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except the American people themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting” – Franklin D Roosevelt
Sources for data - https://www.worldatlas.com/articles/countries-with-the-highest-voter-turnout.html Accessed 25th Nov 2019