By all accounts choosing who to vote for in a normal general election is a difficult task. But for first time voters (myself included) the rise of smaller parties, all this talk of coalitions & tactical voting and, let’s be honest, a lack of any substantial difference between the main parties, has made things a lot more difficult.
We’re not going to tell you who to vote for. That’s your decision. Although this may help. But to further help you with your decision, here are some tips to make sure your vote counts:-
1- Know your constituency:-
Unfortunately for our democracy, not all seats are contested quite as hotly as many think they should be. As such, it might not be worth you voting for your ideal candidate. If you’re a Tory in Liverpool Walton, for instance, which is generally considered one of the safest seat in the country after Labour took 74.2% of the vote in 2010, voting that way may not be your best option. With that in mind:-
-Use the Electoral Reform Society’s ‘Safe Seat’ tool to identify the nature of the competition in your constituency.
-Think about the demographics of your area – For example, if you live in a area populated by students, a vote for the Greens is likely count much more than if you in a place mostly dominated by more conservative pensioners.
2 – Vote Tactically:-
Armed with this information, it might be worth thinking about voting tactically. This means voting for your second or third choice because they are more likely to win, or deny the party you dislike the most a victory. Here’s a quick guide.
But for those don’t fancy either a Conservative or Labour government, it’s pretty simple if you have all the right information. Which you should if you’ve used the tool above. That being said, some constituency polling data may also help.
In essence, once you’ve got all that, you need to vote for the party you like that is competing closest to the one you want to keep out of power. For example, say you support UKIP but they are coming polling in fourth place in your constituency. It may be worth voting conservative (who are likely in first or second) so as to prevent Labour from winning.
Get it? If not, comment below and someone will try and help.
3 – Spoil your ballot properly:-
If the polls and fears of political reporters are anything to go by, no one under the age of 25 is going to bother turning up tomorrow.
We don’t agree. We think young people are engaged they just don’t like the people standing. If this is the case for you and you have registered to vote you can always spoil your ballot. This is pretty much the ‘none of the above’ option. By spoiling your ballot you are reaffirming you commitment to the democratic process but stating loudly and clearly that none of the politicians standing represent your views. But make sure you do it properly…
On election night, as the votes are being counted, workers from each of the parties will be doing their best to ‘point out voters true intentions’ to counters. In simple terms this means two things; 1 -the vote being counted should actually go in favour of their party or 2 – the vote for the other party should not count.
Bearing this in mind, the key to spoiling your ballot is where the ‘X’ lands. If the middle of the ‘X’ goes in one of the boxes for a candidate they could argue that it was your intention to vote for them.
It is probably best to put several ‘x’ across the ballot paper so as to avoid confusion.
So with that in mind, best of luck, have fun and remember, regardless of who you choose to vote for, just how important what you’re doing really is. With the touch of a pen, without a single bullet being fired you are contributing to a systematic overthrowing of the government and potentially changing the direction of society for the next five years.