Thursday, 6 May 2010

Making my mark

That's it. I've done it.

I am surprised how emotional I am when it comes to voting. The private walk to the polling station, a few moments to think through what I really want and the responsibility of marking an X on the ballot paper.

I remember turning 18 and being so delighted that just a couple of months later there were European elections and I could vote! The privilege! The honour! I've never been quite so excited about the European elections before or since.

This time I had to queue! I guess that the school run is bound to be the busiest time when the polling station is in a classroom. My most recent voting experience was for a local council election and involved walking to a portakabin on a scrap of land that previously I didn't know existed. Last general election we were living in Zambia. Whilst I could have gone through the procedure to get a postal / overseas vote I didn't. It was a lot of fuss and a very early deadline and I could only vote in the last constituency I was registered at, which I didn't really care about at all. 

But, for me, the real frisson of excitement comes with actually entering the polling station and holding the stubby pencil attached to a piece of old string, and making a cross on the paper. I am actually able to make a statement of my beliefs, with no coercion (if you excuse the media and politicking of the last four weeks) and no risk of retribution. No-one need ever know how I voted and nobody can tell me I was wrong. It is my democratic right.

It is a great privilege.

So, thank you Ms Pankhurst et al for fighting for this freedom of mine. And thank you, UK, for your democracy, despite its flaws. I enjoy voting, every time, even if my choice doesn't get in. Thank you.

(And no, I wasn't quite dressed like that!)


Picture taken from iTelegraph (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/1542248/Suffragettes-were-like-al-Qaeda.html): all copyright remains with them.

5 comments:

PantsWithNames said...

Yay you for voting. We're going to go after school, take the boys and try to explain why this important. I had an attempt yesterday but Adam just asked whether he could vote for me, which was encouraging in a 'I'm glad you think I can run something' sort of way but didn't make me think he had actually understood much of the previous 5 minutes...

Troy said...

I think after Ms Pankhurst et al went to all that trouble that you could at least have made the effort to dress like the lady in the photo.

We have an interesting 24 hours ahead of us.........

IrmaOrbison said...

從人生中拿走友誼,猶如從生活中移走陽光........................................

Muddling Along Mummy said...

Good on you for voting - I had a postal vote which is far less exciting (but means I can vote if work keeps me late)

I admired the Pankhursts so much I called Babygirl after one of them...

Catharine Withenay said...

PantsWithNames - I think it really shows how much he loves you and thinks you are in control. I once wrote to ask for a postal vote to vote for my friend's mum, but couldn't remember what level of our beloved bureaucracy she was standing for. Embarrassingly, she was with the man when he opened the letter and she has enjoyed laughing at me about it ever since!

Troy - interesting times indeed.

MAM - Postal votes do lose some of the romance of the occasion (or, if you read my story above, add to the embarrassment) but I understand their practicality. In this digital age you would hope that you could vote during a lunch hour for a candidate in a physically different constituency. We'll wait and see what comes...

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