Thursday, 5 May 2011

What price democracy ?

As it happens, quite a lot really.

I have had a rather unplanned long walk this evening after a long day at work in the quest to cast my vote for the local council elections and the referendum into the voting system used in general elections. If you're expecting some sort of informative and fact based entry about what the difference between the two options in the referendum are, or indeed some trendy analysis into the merits or risks of each, you are sadly going to be disappointed.

On my day off yesterday, as I had not received a voting card in the post I rang the council to check that they had registered me to vote at my new flat. The very helpful lady on the phone confirmed that they had, and apologised that I hadn't received the voting card, some have gone missing in the post, she said. No worries, she didn't say, as she then proceeded to tell me the location of the polling station for where I live. 'Great' I thought, I can pop round there after work.

So, after a day that started earlier than 8am (although only by 15 minutes), a pleasant enough trek in the sunshine round to the newly discovered polling station. I might not be like a lot of people, in that I feel my right to vote is like a muscle. I use it, or I may lose it. Okay, so there's no real danger, even remote danger that my ability to vote would be removed, but I just have this great sense of duty and pride in exercising my vote. Bizarrely I find it more important when I think it's likely that my vote goes against that of the leading opinion.

Walk on round I did, only to be told that my vote registration arrived a day too late to be used for this referendum and local election. One obvious question formed almost immediately upon my lips.

'it would have been handy if the person I'd asked yesterday had told me that'. To which the very helpful lady who was in charge responded 'they were right to say that you were registered to vote here, but they wouldn't realise it was for this vote'. Well, really what the hell else did they think I would be calling to check for, with it being the day before the referendum ? I mean really ? What did they imagine that the reason for me calling would be ?

Seriously, I know they are probably busy with preparing for the referendum and all, but that is such a lame arse response. I would have been happier with 'I'm sorry, but they got it wrong and should have told you', but to try and pass the information given as the right information, but only if you squint enough and look at it in the right light is just trying to make intelligent people look stupid.

I feel really sorry for all those people that work for the council that have either suffered pay freezes or even lost their jobs, but if that's the sort of imagination they have, I'm not at all surprised.

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