Too busy to vote?

May 24th, 2014 | Posted by Jenny.Budd in Our Community

The news that 65% of the UK did not get out and vote at the recent elections was saddening, if not unsurprising. Perhaps it was lack of engagement with these ‘less important’ elections or maybe even the rain deluge we witnessed on Thursday. Whatever the reasons, Kirkstall was no better, in fact slightly worse with 66% not turning up to vote.

The diagram below, sent to us by a tweeter shows the local election result in our area:

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5 Responses

  • Mike Harwood says:

    To say that those who did not vote did so either because they saw them as ‘less important’ elections or were deterred by the rain; or, in words adopted from your tweeter, were ‘too lazy’, could with respect be seen as an unjustified and mindless comment. One could equally say, perhaps, that those who did vote were just behaving Pavlovian-like, mindlessly, like sheep, behaving, as they had been told to behave. One might well argue that the most positive thing one can do now is to refuse to vote; refuse to vote for a Parliament which contains little principle but a lot of corruption; which treats its policies like offerings on a supermarket shelf; which displays (and I refer not just to UKIP) a xenophobic pervasive racism. The very thing which you take for granted but which today does need serious and intelligent consideration is whether we should vote at all or should stay away from, what could be seen as, a rather embarrassing and distasteful charade.

  • Jenny.Budd says:

    I was merely postulating. There are of course many reasons why people did not turn up to vote, but you cannot deny that in many cases it is lack of engagement or people have very busy lives that mean they cannot get to their local polling station – me included. I doubt a large proportion of those 66% did not vote because they were refusing, that would require, I believe, a faithful political standpoint that in my experience most people do not have. How exactly, if we wee to relinquish voting, would you see society working?

  • Richard Honey says:

    I agree Jenny. I’d be very surprised if most non-voters did so out of a conscious act of rebellion – a kind of ‘non of the above’ option, or as signed up members of the Russell Brand non-party. However I do think that disenchantment with the political process partly explains the democratic disconnect. I don’t actually think most politicians are corrupt. The ones I know work incredibly hard for their constituents – putting in the kind of hours that would make most workers wince. I think there are a number of issues here: a sense of powerlessness against those in authority, the media circus that encourages conformity and spin from many of our representatives, a passive consumerist approach to political choice, the failure of political parties to engage with the wider public, lack of civic education in our schools etc.What is true is that there’s no one reason why people don’t vote, any more than there is one simple reason why people do. Certainly not ‘mindless conformity’ – that’s just patronising to the many people who vote for a host of reasons, such as believing that our hard won right to vote should be used and defended, or simply wanting political change. Many of us may want to change the political system we have, but not voting is not going to achieve that in the absence of a serious and credible alternative political platform.
    Oh … and how about voter registration opportunities when we apply for passports, driving licences etc, votes at 16 and being able to vote online (my polling station has moved half a mile away – almost impossible for some of the elderly car-less people in my street)

  • Mike Harwood says:

    My last word, I promise you!! If one is concerned to preserve ‘voting’ – that is, I take it to mean, parliamentary democracy as we know it – it is no good sitting on ones computer-side and self-righteously condemning those who choose not to vote. They may have chosen disengagement rather than engagement. What one should be looking at is why they have chosen disengagement. The future of democracy cannot (I hope) be seen to turn on a weather forecast. Choosing to abstain rather than to vote is as legitimate, meaningful and democratic a response as choosing to vote. Those concerned should be searching for that meaning; and the answer and the fault may lie as much in the governmental and parliamentary element as in the electoral element of the system.
    Mike Harwood

  • Mike Harwood says:

    I am glad that Richard Honey agrees with me. My central point was indeed that the poor turnout at elections cannot simply laid at the door and fault and idleness of those who failed to vote. But, at the end of the day, the central question – which I do not think has really been answered here or elsewhere – is why do we suffer all the problems/faults to which Richard rightly pooints? It is obvious (to me) that the answer does not simply lie in a right to vote for a government, a right fought for with such sacrifice and nobility; and that the right, whether or not exercised by more or fewer people – guarantees nothing in the way of social justice and dignity for ordinary people