Why You Have To Vote

Make a difference, no matter how small

Image for post
Image for post
Photo by Steve Houghton-Burnett on Unsplash

Today is general election day in the United Kingdom. We will vote for a new government which will determine the course of our nation for the next five years.

This feels like the most important election in my lifetime. A choice between going ahead with Brexit or putting the question back to the people as well as an increase in public spending the likes of which we have never seen before.

It can feel overwhelming at times to know which way to vote. It can even feel as if there is no point in voting. After all, how often does one vote make a difference?

Except in the UK, it often does.

The voting system uses the first past the post method which dictates that whoever gets the highest number of votes in a constituency wins.

While it can mean that some constituencies are considered safe, there are a lot of ones that come down to the wire.

The 2017 election is a case in point. The constituency of North East Fife was won by two votes. Likewise, the Perth and North Perthshire constituency was won by 21 votes.

Even though it can feel like your vote is not worth much on its own. Every vote counts.

But, that’s not the point. The reason why we vote is more than just wishing to see our desires enacted. It’s to partake in the democratic process to be involved in the decision making of our society.

Only doing something because your preferred outcome is guaranteed is the antithesis of democracy and honest living.

Voting is much more than that.

Your Vote Matters

It’s easy to be seduced into thinking that your vote doesn’t matter. One vote of out of millions can hardly make a difference. However, recent elections and referendums in the UK show this is not the case.

The 2016 referendum on European Union membership is a case in point. Polls consistently had remain in the lead, with a final poll on the day of the vote putting them ahead by 52% to 48%.

When the result came in, the percentages were right, but the polls had got them the wrong way around. The majority voted to leave by 52%. However, this does not tell the full story, as I have outlined previously.

A lot of people did not bother to vote in the referendum. 13 million who were eligible to vote, did not. Leave won by 1.3 million votes. It’s hard to say why those 13 million did not bother to vote.

Maybe it was apathy. Maybe they thought remain was going to win and there was no need to vote. Or maybe they did not want to vote. Either way, there is no doubt their votes would have made a difference either way.

Likewise, in the 2017 general election, the Conservative party was polling well ahead for the majority of the campaign, until they narrowed in the final stretch.

Most commentators were expecting a Conservative majority government, but it did not materialise. The election resulted in no overall majority for either of the two main parties.

Your vote may feel pointless, it may feel like it has little value, but it is vitally important. Polls are not always accurate, strange things can happen come election day.

The casting of your vote is in your control, the outcome may not be, but that is no excuse not to vote. It is not an excuse to duck your duty.

Your Vote Is An Action

Democracies are built upon action. Each of us can express our views through the medium of the ballot box. It is an action and a better world is built upon action, not inaction.

Our actions may not have the desired effect, they may not be reflected by the majority, but we do them anyway because it is our duty. A tiny contribution to the common good makes a difference however tiny.

To not vote is worse than any option on the ballot paper. It is an admission that matters of society are not important. That we can breeze on without thought and consideration for what constitutes a better society.

If this was applied to all walks of life, then society would quickly disintegrate. What is the point in being honest, standing up for injustice and doing your work to the best of your ability?

We would regress to the mean and nothing good would come from the individual who decided to do the right thing. We know that honesty, justice and hard work are virtuous traits.

Yet, voting is up there with them. It is our chance to participate in society, to have our say at the top table.

Being good is a choice as is voting. Much like voting, we have no way of knowing whether it has a significant impact on the world, but we do it anyway because we have to. The alternative is not worth contemplating.

Politics is almost always a choice between the lesser of two evils. This has become even more apparent in recent times. No candidate is perfect, no policy comes without its downsides.

To decide not to vote because of this is to neglect the reality of the world we inhabit. Your vote is precious, it is a right that has been hard-worn and must be cherished as such.

When you cast your vote, do so with the knowledge that it may not have a significant impact, but that you have voted with your best intentions at heart and done your tiny act of contributing to the common good.

Written by

I like to write. I like to travel. https://www.thetravellingtom.com Join my email list -> https://tomstevenson.substack.com/

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store