I like voting

I like voting. I like the walk to the polling station, even if it’s raining. I like seeing others heading the same way. I like wondering who they’re voting for. I like how serious their faces look. I like the sense of being part of something bigger and something important.

I like the fact that you don’t have to prove who you are. I like the trust it signifies and what that suggests about our society. As my name is crossed off, I like sneaking a look at the list to see if next door has voted yet.

I like the booth and the stubby pencil. I like the list of candidates and wondering why some of them bothered to stand but not send me a leaflet. I like the moment of hesitation when I wonder if I really want to vote for the party that I decided weeks ago to support. I like remembering that in 1997 I changed my mind in the booth itself. I like worrying whether I have put the cross in the wrong box and then double checking and triple checking. I like folding the piece of paper and putting it in the box. I like the ritual and the simplicity of it all. I like the hope that it might lead to something better.

I don’t like the electoral system. I don’t like that my vote won’t make much difference because of the constituency I live in. I often don’t like the choices others make and the overall result. But I hope I respect their decisions, even if it doesn’t feel like that in the early hours of the morning, watching the results come in and feeling the hope drain away.

But, still, I like the fact that I get to vote at all. And I like to think that I’ll never take it for granted. I like to think that I’ll always remember that voting is our right but also a privilege to treasure.

Author: HanesCymru

I teach history at Swansea University.

3 thoughts on “I like voting”

  1. With you entirely on this Martin. I’ve had a postal vote several times in recent years because I’ve often been away in early May, but when Waltham Forest allotted me a permanent postal last year in reply to an application for a single election, I asked (successfully) to go back on an election by election basis. I explained to the Electoral Services officer that I valued the physical act of voting, and she responded that she heard this from a lot of people…

  2. Thanks for putting into words what I also like and don’t like about voting.

    I had a postal vote for the first time this election and went through the same checking and re-checking process before finally sealing the envelope. Posting it and walking away from the letter-box came with similar emotions as visiting the polling station.

    And now we wait, with dread and the faintest hope that the polls are wrong.

  3. It is a good feeling, but as you say, so many votes don’t count. There really should be no such thing as a ‘safe seat’.

    Also conflicted on occasion that voting legitimises all of the things that are wrong with the current political and electoral system.

    Nevertheless I will be at my village hall on Thursday. Don’t forget to bring your own pen this time.

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