Published: 6 April 2016

Viewpoint: Why is voting important?

Voting

History undergraduate and Guild Affecting Change society member, Helen Parker-Jervis, explores why voting is so important:

“Election time again, everyone’s favourite revision distraction! This year in Liverpool we have local Council elections, the Police and Crime Commissioner election and the Mayoral election in early May, plus the EU referendum in June. That’s an awful lot of democratic power we have to assert, even though it’s not a general election year. So lots of voting to do, but why is voting even important?

I sat down to write this piece two days ago and spent a good few minutes staring at a blank piece of paper. Despite the fact I’m pretty politically engaged and should definitely know the answer to this question – I didn’t. My answer was that voting is important… because it is!

This is not a helpful answer, nor will it convince anyone else of the importance of voting, so I asked a few of my friends. Most of them had pithy one sentence answers that they could fire off. And their answers were varied, clever and blindingly obvious.

The first of these blindingly obvious reasons is that the government aren’t mind readers. They can only know what you want if you tell them – if you engage by voting. Of course there are other ways of engaging with government but voting is the one that shouts by far the loudest and is most likely to be listened to and understood.

Another friend reminded me that voting is a privilege that we should not take for granted. This, for me, is one of the most important reasons but one of the most easily dismissed or forgotten. The simple fact that we actually get to have a say in who governs us is a privilege and not something we should treat lightly. So many people, in the past and in other parts of the world today, don’t get to exercise this privilege so we shouldn’t dismiss it as unimportant.

Another argument people make is that voting isn’t important because it won’t make a difference, especially at a local level. In some councils it is possible that that’s true, but Liverpool isn’t one of those councils. Voting at a local level can have a real impact on who gets into the council and what they do, especially this year with the Mayoral Election. Plus students make up a massive 10 per cent of the population in Liverpool, but are some of the least likely to be registered to vote (http://www.publications.parliament.uk/pa/cm201415/cmselect/cmpolcon/232/23207.htm).”

The deadline for UK students to register to vote for the local elections is Monday, 18 April and you can do it online or by post, and you’ll need your national insurance number.

This blog was originally published on the Liverpool Guild of Students website.

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