If you’re a Birmingham resident and you’re not registered to vote, you have just 5 days left to do it before the local council and European parliament elections on May 22nd!
If you’ve recently moved or turned 18, make sure you’re on the electoral register by visiting http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/elections or calling the elections office on 303 2731 before 14 April. (You’re not automatically registered to vote, even if you’re registered with the council for council tax / services)
I do this every year, but some of you won’t have seen it yet, so again I’m going to reproduce here a blog post I wrote back in 2009 on a personal blog about a lady who inspired me to never fail to vote again!
I’m not a believer in compulsory voting.
However, personally, I feel that neglecting to vote is an insult to the struggle and suffering of the many who have fought for universal suffrage over the years. They did, of course, also further our right to choose NOT to vote and not voting as a conscious decision is just as important for some.
In last year’s local election, I neglected to vote. I was busy / tired / tied up etc. Or lazy / complacent / ignorant if you prefer!
When I collected the kidlets from primary school, the secondary school on the same campus was serving as a polling station. I’d been somewhere in the car and was a bit early, so sat in the car park waiting. As I sat there, an elderly lady came out of the part of the building where the polls were being conducted. I saw her, then carried on messing with my mobile phone: tweeting or somesuch nonesense! Five minutes later, I looked up and this lady had advanced no further than 5 metres or so towards me, her mobility was so much of an effort. (*NB. All distances are estimated and I’m rubbish at estimating distance! Just take it as read that she was very, very slow!)
I went to her and asked if she was okay or would she like any help? She was trying to the exit the car park: 20 metres up a steep slope across the busy entrance. She said she was all right but it would be nice if I would lend her an arm. It took us 15 minutes to walk that 20 metres. I was beginning to think I was going to be late collecting my kidlets. Her next pitstop was the supermarket 100+ metres away! She wouldn’t let me help her any further and insisted on slowly, independently making her way off to do her shopping.
Whilst walking with this lovely lady, we chatted. She was proud to have used her vote. She would have done anything to make sure it wasn’t wasted. She felt it was the single most important thing she had done for months.
So, in future, in respect for this anonymous stranger & the thousands of other people, both reknowned & unknown, who have struggled for my right to vote in democratic elections, I will never neglect to use my vote again.
Further information about registering, voting and postal votes can be obtained from Elections Office, Council House, Victoria Square, Birmingham / 0121 303 2731 / http://www.birmingham.gov.uk/elections or fromhttp://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/