This time tomorrow, failing any unfortunate accidents or natural disasters, I’ll have voted. Twice in fact: a friend’s out of town for work, so I’ll be proxy voting for her too. I’ll be voting Ken first, Jenny second. at no point have I even considered voting for Boris.
I love voting. By a happy accident, I’ve lived somewhere there’s been an election every year since I was 18 and voted in the 2005 general election. I’ve always woken early on polling day, taken my card to the school, church hall or scout hut that’s been commandeered for the day, and purposefully put my cross or numbers next to my preferred candidate. The stiff ceremony of those five minutes never dulls: knowing that the mark you make with the pencil provided is your physical mark on our democracy is uniquely pleasurable. Then there’s the slight anti-climax you feel once you’ve posted your slip into the ballot box, tempered by wondering how those walking in as you leave will vote.
I love the election campaigns too. Yes, they’re exhausting and by election day, you’ve heard every party member spout the same sound bites until they’re hoarse. But it is exciting. No more so than when you see candidates visibly rattled by their gaffes and stories the press have unearthed. That’s democratic power, right there.
It was only when I was cycling home this evening, thinking about the Chartists mural in my hometown (it’s still there, though they’re destroying it, criminally) that I paused to think that however much I hate this government, however disenfranchised I feel by the fact we elect MPs by the unrepresentative First Past the Post system, I can still vote. I’m a woman, I don’t own property and I’m working class, though have now done quite a bit of vaulting in the social mobility stakes. I can vote, when women and men in some parts of the world still can’t. So do get out and vote tomorrow. Because every time we vote, it feels like we’re moving forward.