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Targeting Voters – Minority Rules

November 25, 2019

(originally written for Pilot TV News)

Who votes in an election?  A glance at those in power would tend to indicate it is by vast majority white middle to upper class, educated to ‘A’ level or above standard; people who project the white cis-heteronormative* (see glossary below) able-bodied hegemony.  There are exceptions, of course there are, and the fact that one can generally name those people who are the exceptions yet the average fades into mass unknown proves the point, in my opinion.

vote

Each general election gets on the face of it a majority turnout of the voter population in the borough; in 2010 England had the highest turn-out with 65.5% and Northern Ireland the lowest, at 57.6%**.   By-elections are roughly the same.  This means that those who are elected to represent the borough do not get a majority vote, the votes cast being split amongst the candidates standing.  The numbers tend to be lower for local elections, at approximately 36% for the most recent ones held.

The recent Scottish independence elections were very successful in attracting previous non-voters to the polls so there is clear interest in political process.  The problem seems to me to be the lack of engagement, lack of effectiveness and lack of variety of choice that is on offer for the average voter.  How many times have you heard that no matter who you vote for, the same ‘people’ always get in?  Given a choice and clear accessible information, people will vote.

Those who vote do not equate to the demographic breakdown of the country in equivalent percentages, and attracting the non-voter will swing the election.  The non-partisan group Operation Black Vote found that in the coming election 168 marginal seats could be decided by the Black and Asian residents of those boroughs***.  Age and gender have an effect, with the older and male more likely to vote and to vote Conservative or Liberal Democrat, and the younger and female more likely to vote and to vote Labour^ or Green.

If you are a disabled voter, you are entitled under Electoral Commission rules to the following:

  • The right to request assistance to mark the ballot paper – request the assistance of the Presiding Officer to mark the ballot paper for them or bring someone with them to help you (this person must be an immediate family member over 18 years old or a qualified voter).
  • The use of a tactile voting device – this is a plastic device that is fixed onto the ballot paper so visually impaired people or those with limited dexterity can mark their ballot paper in secret.
  • Large print version of the ballot paper which should be clearly displayed inside the polling station and a copy can be given to voters to take with them into the polling booth to use for reference.
  • It is the responsibility of the relevant council to designate polling places within their area and to keep these under review to ensure access is possible for those with mobility issues or in wheelchairs or other mobility device. If a voter is unable to enter the polling station because of physical disability, the Presiding Officer may take the ballot paper to the voter.

Previous non-voters will hold the key to this election^^, and the result may well hinge on the votes of those who are discriminated against within society.  According to the Electoral Reform Society (www.electoral-reform.org.uk) there are about 51 million people eligible to vote in the UK.  Ethnic minorities, female, transgender/sexual, poor, disabled, non-heterosexual, whether intersectionally more than one of these identities or not, these are the ones in the non-voting 35-40% whose vote could swing the election.  These voices will be heard when the count is in.  One third of this electorate chooses to disenfranchise itself.  Imagine the possibilities if it chose to act.

 

*Glossary of Terms

Cis = cisgender/cissexual – a person who was correctly assigned their sex/gender at birth.

Hetero = heterosexual – a person who has exclusively romantic/sexual relationships with a person of the opposite sex/gender to themselves.

Normative = that which is assumed collectively by a society to be the average or normal default status of the society.

** http://www.ukpolitical.info/by-election-turnout.htm

*** http://www.obv.org.uk/

^ http://www.britishpollingcouncil.org/pdf/nick-moon.pdf

^^ http://survation.com/a-new-in-depth-study-of-non-voters-by-survation-on-behalf-of-lodestone-communications/

 

From → political

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