November Elections: Too cold to vote?

By Kirstin Fairnie

I really do not understand why everyone’s moaning; if only the government had not held the elections for police commissioners in November, then obviously so many of us would have turned out to vote that the poor people at the polling stations would have been traumatised by the mob of impatient voters banging at the doors to be let in. It’s funny that Mitt Romney has not used the November-effect as an excuse for his defeat.

Political analysts, much more qualified than me, have been pleading this case for weeks, so I am somewhat loath to rock the boat on this one, but I just really do not believe that if the elections had been held in July (when everyone would have been in the Costa del Sol anyway) we would all have dashed out to vote. In November, we need something out of the ordinary to cheer us up, so surely an all-new election should act like a SAD-lamp for our diaries? Apparently not, since only 15.8% of Wiltshire voters turned out yesterday.

I am still not convinced it was because of the time of year though. This explanation insults voters and suggests that we see voting in national elections as no more important than filling out an online feedback form. Unless there is a free iPad at stake, we won’t bother wasting 30 seconds of our time. It suggests that we see voting as so unimportant that cold and wet weather will deter us from leaving the house. Surely a country such as ours that deems itself to be a paragon of Western democracy and is shocked and appalled by Xi Jinping’s undemocratic slide into the Chinese presidency would have an electorate with a burning passion to express their opinions at the polling booths come rain or come shine?

Yes, it is bit odd that so few people in Wiltshire seem to value actually bothering to vote as the cornerstone of a democratic society. I would be interested to know how many of the people who did not vote grumble about the work that their elected police commissioner does during their time in office. I expect it will be something a little higher than 15.8%. But I do not think that this can be put down to the weather.

For starters, this year the weather was as depressing then as it is now, probably more so actually since we really don’t expect driving rain and gale-force winds in July. And if it had been a normal year, the baking heat would have made us too lethargic to get up from our siestas to vote, and we would certainly not have been running anywhere. On a summer’s day, there is a higher risk that I would not be able to vote because I was buried in sand at the beach or because I had got lost trying to find an ice cream van.

Rather than criticising the government’s timetabling, I think it is more important that we look at reminding people just how important it is to exercise your democratic right to vote.

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