Having been a candidate in a local election last year, I spent a lot of time telling people ‘vote for me’, and as a candidate again this year, I’m doing much the same thing. The more I think about it however, it’s the first third of that phrase that is truly the most important part, and although local politics may not be all that exciting – it is something that affects everyone – above all we need to convince people simply to ‘vote’.
Part of this is acknowledging that the majority of people don’t even vote in local elections, and far fewer get excited about them. It’s a huge issue that turnout usually sits at well below 40% in local elections, but an issue that is difficult to examine as a political activist. In the run up to polling day I am surrounded by activists who (quite rightly) put a lot of time and effort into campaigning locally, and the dedication of my colleagues and political opponents never fails to impress me. As activists, we have to learn to accept that most voters don’t get quite as excited about it all. We need to view things from a different perspective if we want to see why turnout is so low and what we can do to improve it.