Lady Summerisle (strange_complex) wrote,
Lady Summerisle
strange_complex

Disenfranchised

I chased up the issue with my election card, and the news is bad. They did receive my application to be registered, but then apparently sent me a letter asking me for proof that I'd been at my current address for more than three months. Except I never got any such letter, so obviously I didn't know to send them any proof of residence...

.... so that's it. I'm not registered, and I can't vote.

To say I am fucking pissed off about this is a serious understatement. I was already feeling 95% disenfranchised over the fact that I can't even vote for the party I actually want to vote for (LibDems) in this part of the world anyway, because they, like most of the other major parties, don't actually run candidates here. But now even my chance to vote for the only remotely sensible party in Northern Ireland (Alliance) has been taken from me.

I like elections. I get excited about them. I think they're important. And I like to participate. I am the kind of person, in fact, who even votes in local elections. So I did want to vote, very badly, even if I couldn't vote the way I really wanted to.

I'm angry that the system here allows this to happen: in Oxford, all I would have needed to do is put my name on a form (a form which I kindly left lying in my flat for the new tenant when I left in September), and it would all have been automatic. I'm angry that no-one ever chased up why I hadn't responded by providing any proof of my residence after they asked me for it, which also would have happened in a similar situation in Oxford. Anyone would think the local authorities didn't want people to be able to vote here.

I'm angry because I'm only living here for a year anyway, but I'll almost certainly be living in England again from September onwards, and will thus be directly affected by the outcome of this election. It's not my fault that I have had to move to Belfast for this year.

And I'm still angry, even though it's now irrelevant, that I wouldn't have been able to help support the LibDems anyway. I don't seriously expect them to win outright, but I really want to see a three-party system, and a more effective opposition. And even if I had been properly registered here, I still couldn't have done that.

I'm also just a little angry with myself, because if I had thought to look into it, it's possible that I might have been able to remain registered in Oxford anyway, and have voted there by post or proxy. But I don't know because I assumed the obvious thing to do would be to vote where I actually lived, and I never explored the options of trying to retain a vote in a place where I didn't live any more.

So all I can do now is sit back helplessly and let everyone else decide on the country's future for me. I feel completely and utterly stripped of all social and democratic power. I'll follow the results, of course, but I won't be able to think at any point, "I helped make that happen". Which is what I really feel it's all about.

All I can say is, if you can vote, please get out there and do it on Thursday. I don't care whether you're going to vote the same way as I wanted to or not. Your very right to do so is precious. I always knew that, but I certainly see it with a new and painful clarity now.
Tags: anger, bureaucracy, disenfranchisement, general elections, impotence, northern ireland, oxford, poorly-designed systems, voting
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