In the last few days you’ve heard from four out of five local election hopefuls on why you should vote for them.
But if you’re not convinced by any of them, perhaps this guest post from local blogger and stand up comedian Dave Pitt might be for you…
“The way of the apathetic voter”
Itâ€™s that time of the year again. You come home to find a pile of badly photocopied leaflets strew on your doormat, each one filled with a grinning suited person standing next to a defaced wall or damaged pothole. The typeface along the top declares that this person will fix whatever problem is in the image. You stuff them behind the pizza menus in the letter holder your Mother got you from Portugal last year. You conveniently forget about them until Eastenders is interrupted by a tannoy announcement outside your home. You look outside to see a five year old Corsa edging down your road while one of those grinning suited people sit inside talking into a microphone, their voice stripped of its humanity by the sound system and spat into your ears with all the sophistication of shattered glass dragged down a blackboard. Once Eastenders finishes, and soon enough for the drum roll to still be echoing in your head, another faceless suit wearing automaton appears on your screen promising you pay rises, tax cuts and free cake. You wish theyâ€™d just shut up so Holby City could start.
Itâ€™s easy to get turned off from UK politics and never more so than when it is forced down your throat for the elections. In an ideal democracy we would take time to consider all the candidates listen to their messages and debate their arguments but itâ€™s hard to ignore that underlying itch of futility about the whole debacle. The sensation that your choice is between one self-serving automaton and another self-serving automaton. As a result you will stay in the house and become a statistic, one of those people who suffer from â€œvoter apathyâ€. But deep down you know this isnâ€™t voter apathy, it is voter jadedness.
If you fall into this category there is another way which stops you becoming a statistic. A way to make a protest vote without moving towards the extreme ends of politics or the single issue parties. A way that is frighteningly simple.Â You spoil your ballot paper.
This act of minor vandalism seems pointless but it has meaning when done by many people. In the 2001 General Election less than 60% of eligible adults exercised their right to vote. Now imagine if that 40% had all spoiled their ballot papers? Suddenly the political parties couldnâ€™t blame â€œvoter apathyâ€. They would have to admit that their empty promises, dodgy deals and soundbites no longer work. Maybe this idea of spoiling ballot papers could take route in some of the 60% who did vote. Suddenly that lesser of three evils vote becomes a â€œspoiled paperâ€.
You can even have fun with it. You could do it a simple way by ticking all the boxes, ticking none of the boxes or writing the name of your favourite footballer as an alternative candidate. Or you could get more complex and creative. Draw a caricature of the candidates next to their names, write in your favourite one liner joke or simply get vulgar. Think of the pleasure you could give to those sleepless counters toiling all through the night putting pieces of paper into piles when they open up your paper and find a joke to read or a â€œVote for Pedroâ€ poorly added to the end of the list.
Most importantly, donâ€™t let anyone tell you itâ€™s a waste. If you feel disengaged from politics then sitting at home is a waste. Getting up, going to the polling station and casting a vote for Big Bird is very important. You are sending a message to the leaders that they are there to serve us and they are failing. We can leave the polling station and say, â€œWeâ€™re not apathetic, weâ€™re jaded and Iâ€™ve just drawn a picture of the three main candidates as farmyard animals to prove it.â€
There is no clearer message.