Finally being at the eligible age to vote is an exciting time but can also be daunting. Whilst playing a role in the changes that will impact your future comes with a sense of liberty, it can be hard to know where to start. However, voting is a privilege that many groups of people don’t have in several countries even today. Therefore, it is so important to use your vote- however, you wish- and have the say that you deserve. This is especially the case in the politically uncertain environment we face at present, with this particular election holding so much power over the response to matters like Brexit and climate change in the coming years.
Deciding who to vote for
Politics is an immensely complex subject to get your head around and to keep up to date with. If you are unsure of who to vote for, there are online quizzes (for example, at https://gb.isidewith.com/) which can help you to find which party best represents your values and priorities. This is a quick and simple way to identify the party that most aligns with your views on various matters.
This being said, the more research you can personally do, the better. You may also want to take expected polls into consideration. For example, if you’re not sure who you want to vote for but are sure who you don’t want to win, then it can be worth voting tactically. This is where you vote for a certain party just to stop a particular opposition from winning.
What if you don’t support any of the parties?
Great controversy surrounds the steps that can be taken if you don’t feel represented by any of the parties and are indifferent about who wins. Whilst some people take the approach of not voting at all if this is the case, others decide to spoil their ballot.
This is where you fill the ballot paper in incorrectly, for example by ticking more than one option. This deems the vote invalid but makes a statement about your lack of representation and discontent towards the election.
Should I discuss my vote with others?
Whether you disclose who you are voting for to your peers or not is entirely up to you. The university environment tends to encourage political engagement and respects that not everyone will agree. Talking to others about the pros and cons of different parties can encourage you to think further about your choices and what you truly value. This being said, there are no obligations for you to share your political stance with anyone, and it is important to realise that it is okay to disagree with others too.
How about the role of social media?
Social media is a great tool in the lead up to an election for following campaigns and keeping up with the news. Instagram accounts like ‘SimplePolitics’ are especially useful for breaking this into easily digestible chunks. However, it is important to remember that social media can be misleading and misrepresentative. Approach all social media claims with caution, and fact check when necessary!
With all of this in mind, make the most of the democracy that we are lucky to be a part of. Voting is an exciting time and exercising your right to vote for the first time should be empowering and rewarding.
At the University of Bath, you can vote at the library if you are living on campus. If you are living elsewhere, your nearest polling station will be stated on the poll card that should have been posted through your door by now. And, if you are registered to vote both at home and at university, you can vote at either address.
With only a week to go before election day, get thinking on how you want to use your vote and encourage your friends and family to engage as much as possible.
For more information on the voting profiles for the Bath constituency, visit the following link: https://whocanivotefor.co.uk/elections/BA2%207JX/, where you can also find details for the election event on Monday 9th December to meet the candidates for Bath and ask any questions you may have.