9 May 2012
Cllr Dave Harris is the Labour councillor for Berechurch on Colchester Borough Council. He also blogs at www.councillordaveharris.com
With voting being a shrinking pastime, we who believe in democracy cry out ‘we must ensure that more is done to encourage voting'.
Well, it is a fact that in the last few days I have had someone tell me "it's my democratic right not to vote".
It's a worrying trend that as negative campaigning and a feeling of insignificance come over lots of voters, people's eyes glaze over when some of the issues that need to be decided in local government are mentioned.
You only have to say ‘housing revenue account', and ‘audit scrutiny' to send some of them to sleep.
It is also true that where there is a local issue that's easy to hang your hat on, people do get passionate about voting.
We - as a nation - need to move toward online voting, towards a place where positive campaigns are the norm, where voting is the in-thing and ‘cool' thing to do.
The only way to do that, though, is to positively engage with the electorate to dispel years and years of media perception of politics and the doorstep issues that matter to people.
Until we find those building bricks (and it may require legislation), we will continue to have areas of complacency - and that is the enemy of democracy.
Bring on good relations and education about what local issues are, bring on the creation of a caring attitude for a community (a word that I was brought up to understand).
Only with some change - in ways of voting, in media coverage, in campaign styles - will the current and far too low voting numbers be increased.
31 July 2012