Political Engagement and Election Participation

Political Engagement and Election Participation

As I am sure you have all guessed by now, I have my own thoughts and opinions in terms of political views and, particularly at the moment, the EU referendum. But in acknowledging that I have my own thoughts, and that we live in a Democracy (of sorts), everyone is entitled to their own political ideas and opinions, even if they do not align with mine.

Unfortunately, the United Kingdom (and many other western countries I should add) have large percentages of the ‘Voting Age Population’ who do not participate in elections and referendums. In the 2015 United Kingdom General Election, there was a Voting Age Population of just over 64 million people. Of this 64 million, only 46.4 million were registered to vote. That’s nearly 20 million people in the United Kingdom who were of voting age but were not registered to vote. 20 million people who were of voting age, but didn’t register and will have to live under and be effected by the current government, for better or for worse.

Looking beyond that, of the 46.4 million people who were registered to vote, only 30.6 million of them did actually vote. Again, a huge proportion of people who had registered and were entitled to partake in the election to choose who will run the country for the next 4 or 5 years and they did not vote! All in all, 60.45% of the Voting Age Population of the United Kingdom cast their vote in the 2015 General Election. In the 2015 General Election, the Conservatives received votes from only 22.3% of the voting age population and won the election.

It is hard to gauge precisely why so many people choose not to vote. Certainly a small percentage will be down to circumstances not allowing people to make it to the polling stations. Perhaps a number of people turned up on the day to vote but were unable to due to not being registered and some confusion there. I suspect however, that the two largest reasons are political apathy (i.e. having no interest) or perhaps people having resigned themselves to the fact that under the current voting system, their vote did not matter (a subject I intend to cover at a later date).

These are understandable reasons, but not ones that should prevent you from casting your vote. Every vote counts at some level. And having no interest in politics is, I believe, damaging to society in the long run. Almost everything you can think of is in some way influenced by politics and the influence of the party in charge can be felt long after the 4 or 5 years that they may be in charge for.

So please, in the run up to the EU referendum, make sure you are registered to vote. There are no constituencies to be won, every vote counts. Simply go to https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote and register by Tuesday 7 June 2016 and then get to your local polling station on Thursday 23 June 2016 to ensure you have contributed to a referendum that will certainly affect you in some way.

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