Thursday, June 04, 2009

An A-poll-ing Turnout?

I've just fulfilled my constitutional duty and voted in the European elections. Is it a duty, though? I've always held the view that a citizen should be prepared to give up 5 minutes of their time every couple of years in order to tell the politicians exactly what they think and believe in.

But I also have a lot of time for the counter argument, that a citizen should have the right to withdraw from the voting process - although I'm happier for them to do it as a protest rather than through apathy.

Some polls have suggested that there may be a relatively high turnout (for a European election) today, thanks to the scandals which have been rocking Westminster lately. I have to say, I voted in Gorgie Parish Church and I was the only person in there. The ballot box was filling up rapidly, but after talking to the polling clerk it turns out that the boxes are full because the ballot papers are so long, not because there have been lots of people voting. In fact, he used the words "very, very quiet".

Campaigning has been mute, too. Literature came through my door once, buried inside the Herald & Post. The polling place itself, in the photo above, only has two signs outside it - one for the SNP and one for the Green Party. The big three Westminster parties seem to have given up.


James said...

I think Jeff's right: we need weekend voting.

Pleasingly, your Captcha word verification thing gave me "harvi"!

Despairing said...

Ooh, an omen!

As for weekend voting, if we can't get people to pop into a local school or church on their way to or from work or the shops, then how are we going to get them to vote when they've got to visit granny or go to an away match or get pissed on a beach with their mates?

Polling places in supermarkets is an intriguing suggestion, though. With today's technology, it's not outwith the realms of possibility that we should be able to vote in any polling station that we choose.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I wouldn't agree with compulsory voting (you're right that we should have the right to withdraw) and I can't see how weekend voting would be more popular for the reasons you give. People need to feel that politics is more meaningful, need to feel more genuinely engaged, but how do we get to that point?

stirlinggreens said...

You're right, it did seem as though Labour, the Tories and the Lib Dems kept a low profile during the campaign. Well done to the Edinburgh Greens for adorning the capital's lamp posts when no-one else could be bothered. And never mind those grumbling Lib Dems...

As for boards outside polling stations, the Tories' effort was mildly amusing. On first glance it looked like the work of a campaign group aiming to boost turnout, as all you noticed was "JUST VOTE" (blue text on white). Only when you looked more carefully did you see "CONSERVATIVE" at the foot of the board. Hopefully people did "just vote". Just not for them, or indeed certain other parties of ill-repute.