The Ultimate Step-by-Step Guide to Voting in the General Election 2017

I get it, politics can be confusing, you keep getting different messages from family, friends and the media. If only there was a quick and easy way to decide whether to vote and who for. Well congrats, you’ve just found it, in just a few steps (and in less time than it takes to watch one tv episode) you’ll be set.

Here goes …

Palace of Westmister at dusk with clear blue sky

What is the General Election and why has it been called?

The General Election is when you vote for those who represent you at the houses of parliament. The party with the most seats (not votes) tend to win. If a party gets over half of the available seats, it is theirs automatically, if they don’t but they have the most they will be the main party but can form a coalition with other parties to make up the numbers.

The election has been called by the Prime Minister, Theresa May, as they (the Conservative Party) currently do not hold a large majority. This means that it is more challenging to pass bills as if a handful of Conservative MPs disagree with their own party the bill can fail. The Conservative government believe they can increase their majority and thus make it easier to pass the changes they wish to make.

Why should I vote? It never makes a difference to me

You have probably heard all the old sayings of ‘people died for you to have this right’ and ‘people in some countries do not have this luxury’  and well, they’re not wrong. However, it is more than that.

If you feel that the current government (whoever is in power at the time) is not doing a good job, then you vote for someone else. Not voting is as good as an endorsement for them to keep going as they are. Also, particularly if you are 18-24, and feel that they do not represent your concerns, they never will if you do not vote as they have no incentive to try and win your vote. Instead parties focus their attention on the older generations who will be keep them in power / get them into government.

Also; if you have voted, you have a moral right to moan when they are doing a bad job (and it’s fun to moan) and to challenge them to do better. You participated in getting them their job (even if you didn’t vote for them), they work for you, you can find out more about who currently works for you , how they vote on big issues and see if they represent your views.

How do you know if you are registered to vote?

This one is easy – I have already received a Polling Card through the post for this election, so if you have not, you’re probably not registered.

 

How do you register?

Before reading any further, get registered, it’s really simple and also urgent as you only have until the 22nd May to get registered, so don’t put this off.

  • Check your diary for 8th June 2017 (that is when the election takes place) and see where you are / what you are up to.
  • If you are on holiday, in an all day meeting / lecture, or have a really bad hangover and don’t plan to get out of bed (on a Thursday, really!) then you will need a postal vote. This means you get it all over and done with ahead of time and it is pretty darn satisfying. Or you could have someone you trust vote on your behalf, find out more information on Proxy voting here.
  • If you plan to visit your local Polling station (often a community centre or Church, etc. within a few minutes walk from your home), then you can just register as normal.
  • Now stick the date in your phone with a reminder, you don’t want to miss it. Try and set it early, so that you vote before you go to work or Uni, it gets it out of the way and means that you can stay out with friends or head to the pub and not have to get home to vote.

Okay, registered … but who do I vote for? They’re all as bad as each other!

You will have been getting a whole range of different opinions from many different sources, passionate friends and family, the tv, social media, the truth is the only opinion that really matters is yours. Who actually best represents your ideals?

Yes, none of the parties are perfect, there will not be a perfect fit to your beliefs, however think of it like this. You could walk through a cowpat laiden field in Wellington Boots or in Barefeet. Standing in a cowpat is not an ideal scenario and although both options can be cleaned up and improved by you taking action, there is clearly a better of the 2 options. It is the same with the parties, you want to pick the best starting point – you can still hold them to account if elected.Wellington boots in MudFeet in mud

 

 

 

Understand that unlike the US, you are not voting for a personality, you are voting for the party that have the best plan for the country.

Try this short quiz to determine which parties best align with your views (the results may surprise you).

Okay I have my results – now what?

Well it depends on your results and what you believe in. If your top result was the Conservative Party (the party currently in power) and you are happy with what they have done in the past 7 years and what they are planning to do in the next 5, then you can probably stop reading now, you have your answer.

If however, you are an unhappy with your Conservative result, or whose results indicate views to the left of the Conservative party, there are options.

  1. You could vote for the party that best matches your ideals (assuming they are standing in your area (i.e. SNP only stand in Scotland)
  2. You could vote tactically. This might mean that you do not vote for the party with the top score in the quiz you completed, but for one of the other parties who still likely scored better than the Conservatives, but whom stand the best chance to win in your area. Now this will vary for everyone, so just enter your postcode and this site will tell you the best option you have to change the government.
  3. Or you could protest vote, by voiding your vote by drawing a big cross across the whole page. It is still counted as a vote, but indicates that none of the parties were good enough.

Now feel free to use this information to further your research, look closer at manifesto plans, but don’t get bogged down on single issues that are being forced on you, the government impact is wide ranging.

Be aware that media is bias and that algorithms on things like Facebook can mean things become a bit like an echo chamber and you only hear the same message.

But know that your vote really matters and that if you choose to vote tactically you have a real chance at changing the government or at least preventing a majority and ensuring they continue to feel pressure in the decisions that they make.

If this helped, please share with friends and family – especially if they are in the 18-24 year old bracket who really would make a huge difference to the country if they turned out to vote.