Voting and politics can be very confusing. Often big and old-fashioned words are used, and it can feel overwhelming.
Politics can be a difficult subject to discuss as people can be very passionate about their beliefs. You may feel that nobody around you thinks like you. It is ok to have discussions and try and win people round to your point of view. It’s good to feel passionate about something but remember to treat people respectfully.
When we reach the age of 18 in the UK, we have the right to vote. This is a privilege given to us because we live in a Democratic Society. Many countries across the globe do not allow this; many young people grow up in dictatorships with very few liberties. The age of voting was lowered from 21 to 18 in 1970 under Harold Wilson’s Labour Government.
Women got the vote later than men after fighting for it. This was known as The Suffragette Movement. In 1918 an act was passed which allowed men over 21 and women over 30 to vote. In 1928, the Conservatives passed an Act for men and women to be able to vote at 21. This was a monumental moment in History in the fight for Women’s Equality. It is another reason why it is important to exercise your right to vote.
Every person in the UK is represented by one MP who covers a large area, called a constituency. The UK is currently divided into 650 constituencies. You elect your MP every five years.
When it comes to voting, you have a choice of ways to do it:
- voting in person at the polling station
- voting by post
- asking someone you trust to vote on your behalf (by proxy)
Most people go to the polling station but if you are unable, another option will accommodate you. Before the date of the election, you will receive a polling card; everyone in your household who is eligible to vote, will receive one. This tells you where and when you can vote. Voting usually takes place in a local schools or community centre.
Polling stations are always open between 7am and 10pm. When you enter, show your card to the clerk at the desk or tell them your name and address. They will mark your name off and give you a voting slip. Go into one of the booths and put a cross beside the candidate you wish to vote for. That’s it! You’ve cast your vote, job done!