Friday, October 30, 2009

Make G......g.....granville's Vote C....c...count

It's the 9th February 2009, it's dark, it's late after 8pm at least. Having delivered the third or fourth leaflet of the day climbing numerous back stairs to flats in the dark, we return to car to find a postal ballot paper under the windscreen wiper. Certain we'd pass near a polling place on the way back to the committee room we head off with the sealed envelope, looking for somewhere to deposit this one vote.


I rush into the committee room and ask for the location of the nearest polling station. Finding out it was at Carnegie Hall so I ran across Sinclair Gardens.

Now imagine what would happen if I or the actual voted had done that before 10pm to find that the polling place or station had shut up shop for the night. So that instead of casting that vote on time it would have left a voter disappointed and disenfranchised.

However, the Ministry of Justice is suggesting just that, early shutting of some polling stations. If that were to happen and you couldn't make the hours of opening at your polling station what do you do? Where do you go? Is there an alternate? Can you personally get there? Do you have time?

Admittedly I have long been the person, if I vote in person and not by postal ballot, who is normally the first to post their vote into the box. I once even was told by the police on the door in Bangor that they weren't ready yet. I asked what time it was, to be informed 7:01. So I walked on in. My democratic right is to vote at a polling station near my place of residence from 7am to 10pm on General Election day.

Although the Ministry of Justice are also looking at shutting some of them down too. To be fair there are two other polling stations about as far from my flat as the one I actually vote in. But that is because I'm on the edge of one boxes area in an urban area. There are a lot of boxes in West Lothian and I'd say they are all necessary to enable everyone to vote in their locality and in urban areas to vote unrushed, unhurried and in a timely fashion.

Like all things there are peak times and slow times. When I worked in retail in the West End the shop was open to 10pm. But people still turned up right to that time. The same applied to voters. They will still turn up right to the end. Some of them may be party workers who do it on the way to a quick shower before heading to the count after a long day. Other's may have waiting until putting the children to bed to get some peace before heading off. Other's may be workers who work away from home but have grabbed a train to enable them to get there even if only just before 10pm on a Thursday night.

The reason for these proposals is apparently money. You can imagine there is outcry that of all the ways government want to penny pinch it is in giving the people their say especially in light of recent months.

John Turner, of the Association of Electoral Administrators, told The Times:

"There is a real danger that despite years of trying to get the voter to engage, the Government is doing the opposite."

Ken Ritchie, of the Electoral Reform Society, added:

"The health of the democratic process is more important than saving peanuts. We risk turning an economic recession into a political one."

I would say panic not as the Ministry of Justice are saying this is only a working paper and not policy right now. Sadly I don't trust a Government, with a healthy majority, that has asked for such a working paper to be drawn up that does seem to vote against the public on issues such as 10:10 will do the right thing. I may of course be surprised.

"G...g...g...g....granville! Did you g....g....g...g....g.....go and"

"I went Mr Arkwright but I didn't get to vote they had shut up early."

"Well that's b....b....b....bad. g..g...get b...b...b...back to work then. Still a c....c....couple of hours for us."

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