Around about this time in the run up to a general election the phrase 'voter apathy' starts to appear in headlines and news articles. This mysterious condition is a malaise so serious, if you listen to some reports, that most of the UK population is struck down by it just before voting. Various causes are attributed to it from political scandal, sleaze and expenses rows to the weather and what's on telly that night. And there seems to be no cure for it, this year will as bad or even worse as the last general election with millions not bothering to vote, and millions more not even registered to vote.
So why bother to vote?
1) Because it's your money they are spending. National insurance, income taxes, car tax, VAT, duty on fuel, cigarettes, alcohol, pretty much every aspect of our life is taxed. The only way you get a say on how those taxes are spent is when you vote for a political party at an election. Would you spend out £500 on a new handbag only to find you have no way of exchanging it when the buckles fall off a week later? Of course not! In no other part of our lives would we hand over such substantial lumps of cash and then say, 'Oh it's OK, can't be bothered to do anything about it...'.
2) Because your vote can make a difference. You only have to look at America to see how powerful your vote can be. President Obama's health care reform has come about because people used their vote and voted him into the presidency. They made that change happen. Now 32 million more Americans have access to health care. Not a bad result for simply putting a mark in box.
3) Because politicians have nowhere left to hide! Sleaze and scandal however boring and tedious means that, as a democracy with a free press, we can scrutinise what politicians are up to in government. They will be caught out and widespread corruption will not be tolerated. We keep that democratic process alive by using our vote.
4) A vote is about self worth. Really!!? Yes, really. Nothing says I no longer care about myself, my family, my community and my future like not bothering to vote for the very thing that directly impacts on every aspect of your life.
So, not sure where or how to vote or even who to vote for?
Each political party will be busy over the next weeks leading up to the election canvassing for your vote. They have a manifesto which sets out what they want to do for you and your community and why. They have websites with info. There will be tv debates and mailings through the door. They are on facebook, twitter, the radio...everywhere!!
From the age of 16 you can register to vote and then from the age of 18 vote, by post, at a polling station or by proxy. These websites will tell you how. Registering to vote. About your vote.
Easy read guide to voting