Monday, May 08, 2006

Solving the election turnout problem

Low voter turnout is generally considered to be a Bad Thing by those who claim to know about such matters. This is a debatable proposition but for the purposes of this post let's assume it's correct.

Various proposals have been made about how to increase turnout; compulsory voting seems to be back in favour with some at the moment. I have a better proposition which would remove the need to send non-voters to gaol or even jail. If the system assumes that everyone wants to vote Labour then the only people who need to vote will be those eccentrics who don't agree.

It seems quite fair to me, what's the problem?

Alternatively, why do we vote on Thursdays; is it a typical British tradition the origin of which no one can recall? Moving the voting day from Thursday to Saturday and Sunday might help. Increasing the number of polling stations and putting them in more attractive locations would also be good as would making the postal voting system a bit easier to understand.

The present system seems to favour the Tories; their voters are more likely to have free time on a Thursday, less likely to do physical jobs which make them too tired to go out to vote and more likely to have access to cars to take them to remote polling stations. When I stood for the County Council in Barnwood, Gloucester last year one area was about a mile away from its polling station which was on the other side of the busy ring road and up a hill. It's an area full of Labour supporters but I can't blame them for not turning out.


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