Why you should not abstain on 1 November

VOTING matters far more than many who have the vote seem to think.
As the local elections approach, we are told on digital media such as Facebook and Twitter that many people will not vote because they don’t believe this will achieve anything. We also hear claims that the majority of voters – who don’t use these media – agree. Among the minority who take part in the national debate, the view has taken hold that voting is pointless, a stance shared in more than a few other democracies around the world.

The right not to vote is as important as the right to vote. Only 21 countries force citizens to vote – some no longer enforce this even though it remains the law. The numbers will hopefully shrink further: the law has no business telling people that they have to vote even if they reject all the candidates or feel they can make a point by not voting. While some of us believe that it is our duty to vote whatever we think of the parties, this cannot be imposed on others. On the contrary, there is a strong argument for democracies to follow the lead of a handful of countries or regions which include on the ballot papers ‘None of the Above’ or a blank space which voters can mark to show that they don’t want to support any of the candidates….