As you will have heard, there is a General Election coming up next month in the UK. Here is some information about what it means and what you can do.
As you will have learnt throughout your time at Hertford Regional College, democracy is one of the fundamental British Values.
Voting is a key aspect of the democratic process. "Democracy" literally means "power to the people", and the ability for the citizens of its country to be able to vote for its leaders is what is known as a fundamental principle of democracy. A system in which the people do not have the say over who rules them (like, say, the monarchies we used to have in past centuries, or countries with dictatorships) is not very democratic. So if we the people are to have any say in our future, having democracy is important, and therefore so is having votes.
There are General Elections in the UK every few years. In the general elections, everyone who is registered and able to vote (see below) votes for their local MP. The country of Great Britain is divided into 650 constituencies, or voting areas, each one represented by an MP. Almost all MPs are members of political parties, and the party that has more than half of the 650 possible MPs becomes the ruling party. The leader of the ruling party then becomes the Prime Minister.
In a general election, then, you are voting for your local MP, but in doing so, you are also voting for who you want to be the ruling party and the choice of Prime Minister. So it really matters!
How to vote?
Firstly, you must be 18 or over. There is plenty of debate as to whether the voting age should be lowered to 16, like many other things have been - however, as of right now, the legal voting age remains 18.
Secondly, everyone who wants to vote must register to vote. A key democratic principal is that every person gets one vote, and one vote only. But that can only happen if it is known who everybody is, which is why we each need to register.
The deadline for registering to vote is Monday May 22nd. The election will take place on Thursday June 8th.
To register to vote, follow the link above to the Government website. You will need to answer a few questions, but it does not take long.
On voting day itself, go along to your local voting station and simply vote there. When you register to vote, you will be sent through a polling card that tells you where the place you need to go to is.
Who do I vote for?
That's up to you!
Put some thought into it, read the manifestos (plans) on what the various parties pledge to do, and decide what is most appropriate and important for you. There is loads of information on the internet, including services that can help you figure out who you should vote for based on the answers to certain questions, such as this one.
There is a lot to know, and it can be difficult. Nevertheless, you don't need to know everything to vote. Your vote is important, and the things that are most important to you, only you know.
Do remember, though, that voting matters. Even if you think one vote does not make a difference, it all adds up. At the last election, 15.7 million people who were registered to vote, did not - this is actually more people than who voted for the winning party (the Conservatives). More people declined or forgot to vote than who voted for the government that now rules us - what if those 15.7 million all wanted to vote for someone else, but decided it wasn't worth it, because their vote didn't matter?
In a democracy, all votes matter. So please take a couple of minutes to register to vote, then vote on the 8th June, and help ensure that we the people really do get what we want.
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