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Why you should vote

"Voting is the expression of our commitment to ourselves, one another, this country and this world."- Sharon Salzberg


This year 2024, has been heralded "the year of the election". With a record number of people exercising their vote this year it's worth asking ourselves why we should vote. I'm not going to bang on about civic duty, but there are logical reasons why apathy will hurt you. This is a quick read, so plough on.

In this series I will be asking the following questions:

  1. Why you should vote

  2. What is the "far right"?

  3. What is democracy good (and bad) for

  4. Referenda 

People aren't voting right?

It feels like most elections have boiled down to an unpopularity contest. Two deeply flawed leaders of parties whose time has run out, battle with each other in debates, social media and influencing the newspapers. It is prevalent here in the UK, US, India, France and so many other countries. So that means people are not voting right? Wrong.

The turnout in the 2020 US Presidential election was the highest in the last 100 years. That's right, turnout is very high. In the UK, the last two elections 2017 and 2019 have also had turnouts higher than elections all the way back until 1997.

How do we make sense of the apparent apathy yet high turnout?

According to an electoral strategist that appeared on 'the rest is politics' podcast, political campaigners have a clear top two for maximising their chance of winning:

  1. Getting your supporters to vote

  2. Suppressing the interest of voters on the other side to vote

Working on winning voters from the other party or the undecideds is a distant third. The policy and media connectivity of campaigns to try and energise their base whilst turn off their opponents' base, is on overdrive right now, and I think many of us are falling victim to this. There is certainly an air of "they are all" and fill it in with corrupt/elites/not listening etc. which leads to this feeling that whatever happens, it will be a bad outcome.

Common reasons for not voting


a) All politicians are liars and I don’t want to encourage them with a vote


This is a very commonly held view which deserves a lot of sympathy. Politicians routinely exaggerate, what they are likely to do, and the likely impacts as well as exaggerate what their opponents will do and likely impacts. This is fuelled by the news who depending on their bias, pick out individual sentences and make a whole news cycle out of twisting it. As an aside, I avoid all news coverage of policies, unless it is a well thought through cost benefit analysis.


b) My 1 vote does not matter


Often people live in a “safe” seat which rarely changes MP. In this case, they feel that their vote is wasted whether they vote for or against the party that is so likely to win the seat


c) I don’t like either main party


I have heard so many times that a vote for the third party is a wasted vote. I believe people say this is because that party is unlikely to form a part of the government or in the case of individual seats they might command a substantial percentage of the vote, but not win any seats.


I hear all of these and can completely understand them. I do however disagree profoundly with the conclusion that people should not vote and believe we should fully encourage others to vote.

3 reasons to vote

1)Voting requires engagement. If you don't vote, you do not learn about what the differences between the parties are, and therefore do not bother to work out which of the parties will take the country nearest to the direction. If you vote, you become more aware of the differing ideas of the parties.

If you are unsure about which party to vote for, I would ask myself the following questions

  • Which policies are best for me, or closest to my ideas about the right direction?

  • Which party would have the most competent people in a crisis?

  • Which party do I definitely not want in power?

  • Why party do I trust to the right thing?

For me these questions help answer which party has the intelligence, integrity and direction. I bet that not all parties are equally bad or good when you look at them in this way.

2) Groups that vote are likely to see policies that benefit them

People aged 65 or more are twice as likely to vote than 18-24. For politicians to win elections, they need to get votes, and so they will skew their policies towards groups that vote most. The biggest difference is in age. Because pensioners are an increasing proportion of the population and they are most likely to vote, they have unusually high sway on the direction of policy. For example in the UK, the state pension increased at a higher rate than the wages of the nurses that care for them! This is despite there being a dangerous shortage of nurses.

Groups that do not vote, do not get much less influence when it comes to policy. If you don't speak, people can't hear you.

3) If you don't like the main parties, choose someone else.

In the UK, we have a number of parties that will get seats. In Scotland, NI and Wales, there are national parties and in England at a minimum there will be Liberal Democrats, Greens and Reform. Even if your candidate does not get selected, the MP selected and the national party will know that they are at risk from that other party.  In the UK other parties outside of Labour and Conservatives have at different times secured over one third of the vote. It most certainly is not wasted, and will influence the national parties, as we have seen from the Conservatives with respect to the various more right wing parties like UKIP and Reform this time around.

If after all this, you still decide not to vote, please do not complain about the outcome. If this has convinced you to vote, please pass to your friends, particularly if they are young or from an ethnic minority.

Next week we discuss "What is the far right?". Don't forget to sign up to the blog Blog | Deciders (


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