Don't stop people from using their vote
Regular readers of this column will know my view on voting ... everyone should be compelled to do it.
There are two main reasons why I believe this.
The first is quite simple: how can any government or council be truly representative of its people if less than half of the electorate bother to turn out and vote?
Some of the people I know to be most vociferous in their views of governments and councils of all political hues are the ones who do not exercise their franchise.
Of course they are entitled to an opinion.
But that opinion would count for much more if they had actually turned out to vote.
Then they would be able to claim either “that’s not what I voted for” or “it would have been different if my lot had got in”.
The second is based more on history: people down the ages have fought, and in some cases died, so that everyone over the age of 18 – with some understandable exceptions – has the right to vote.
A century ago that was certainly not the case.
Even in my lifetime the voting age has been lowered and there are moves afoot to potentially lower it again to widen the electorate and make it even more representative of the population as a whole.
But now I have a problem and, for once, I really don’t have an answer.
Plans potentially in the pipeline would see voters having to prove their identity at the polling station.
In this part of the world we know a bit about electoral fraud.
But is it so widespread that taking a driving licence with you on election day is the only answer?
Would it stop electoral fraud among postal vote returns?
Would it stop some people voting because they forgot their photo identity?
How would, potentially, 16-year-olds prove who they are? The easiest way is a photo driving licence and they can’t have them.
Everyone should vote. Don’t put obstacles in their way!