2Russell Brands Voting ‘Complicity’. Controversial comedian Russell Brand sparked debate following an interview on BBC’s Newsnight where he urged people not to vote.He argued that politicians were all the same and that regardless of who won an election they would fail to address international issues such as climate change and the global disparity between rich and poor.Voting showed ‘tacit complicity’ with the system which is why Brand has never voted and why he went on to encourage others to follow his lead.
3Russell Brands Voting ‘Complicity’. Click here to watch the video
4Pulse Points‘you have a disenfranchised, disillusioned, despondent underclass that are not being represented by that political system’Is it the duty of every citizen to vote?By not voting, are you sacrificing your right to criticize the government?Is voter turnout a fair indicator of political activism/apathy?Is choosing not to vote an effective form of political protest?
5Pulse PointsHow does low turnout at elections challenge the authority of the state?Is political participation defined by whether or not you vote?For what reasons might someone not vote?What other forms of political participation are there?
6Turnout at the 2010 General election. There are certain groups in society who traditionally have a high turnout at elections.The biggest factor is age with 76% of people over the age of 65 voting, compared to just 44% of year olds.There are also differences between gender, race and social class.AgeTurnout %18-244425-345535-446645-546955-647365+76GenderTurnout %Male66Female64
7Turnout at the 2010 General election. Social GroupTurnout %A-B= High/intermediate managerial, administrative or professional76C1=Supervisory, clerical and junior managerial, administrative or professional67C2=Skilled manual workers58DE= Semi and unskilled manual workers/State pensioners, casual or lowest grade workers, unemployed with state benefits only.59Those most likely to vote are middle class, white, male, home owners.- Like most MPsLeast likely to vote are working class, non-white, women who rent their homes. – Unlike most MPs.Look at who is in power. Do people vote for ‘people like them’? If more groups were represented on the ballot paper would more people vote?RaceTurnout %White67All Non-White51
8Turnout at the 2010 General election. Why Not Vote?Turnout at the 2010 General election.Poor weather, lack of transport, and general lack of awareness about the campaign all affect voter turnout. Few elections are held in the winter and local parties work hard to get their supporters to the polling station.The electoral system itself could also determine whether people go out to vote. Under the First Past The Post system, a Labour voter, for example, who lives in a safe Conservative constituency, may feel that their vote is pointless as they will be almost certainly voting for the losing side. This is referred to as a ‘wasted’ vote, in that unless they win, their votes are largely irrelevant. This is different from a ‘spoiled’ vote or ballot.
9Protest votingIn some countries such as Spain, India and Greece, there is a ‘none of the above’ option on ballots for those who wish to register their vote, but not support any of the candidates.There is no NOTA option in Britain so those who which to protest do so by ‘spoiling’ their ballots.An unusually high proportion of spoilt papers may suggest a protest (the UK average is 0.3%), but as no record is made of which votes are accidentally spoilt and which are done so purposely, it is not an effective form of protest.Accidentally spoiled ballots occur more with complex electoral systems. This has to be balanced with the fewer ‘wasted’ votes a more representative system would provide.
10Parish Councils MEPs Regional Assemblies Borough Councils Levels of PowerBorough CouncilsElected MayorsTraditionally power lay in local and national authorities, however, with the EU and devolved government, some voters may feel their vote has less influence to affect change. They also may be weary of being called to vote for various bodies and might chose the ones which they feel will make the most difference.RegionalAssembliesParish CouncilsMEPsUnitary Authorities
11Levels of PowerGlobalisation may also have a part to play in voter apathy as some question who holds the real power in the world. Democratically elected governments, or international corporations.Governments only represent nations. International pressure groups have a far wider reach and represent a global community. Voters who have strong opinions in a particular area, such as environmental issues or animal rights may feel their agenda is best served by a pressure group rather than a political party.
12Pressure groupsA group working for change: a number of people who work together to make their concerns known to those in government and to influence the passage of legislation.British Humanist Association- 28,000 members.Royal Society for the Protection of Birds – Over 1 million members.Confederation of Business Industry –Represents over 240,000 businessess.Campaign for Real Ale- 158,509 members
13Pressure groups William Mahoney 2007 “In the last 40 years interest group numbers andmembership levels have exploded while British political parties‘membership has been falling heavily. In this period themembership of the 'governing parties', Labour andConservative, has fallen from some 4 million to 500,000.Meanwhile, group memberships have flourished. The RoyalSociety for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) alone has over 1million members - more than the total of all the UK politicalparty members."William Mahoney 2007
14Does voter turnout matter? No party since 1945 has received over 50% of the popular vote, which means that more people have not voted for them, than voted for them.It is important for effective government that they have a mandate to rule, otherwise legitimacy is undermined.As the way in which the people chose to express their views and identity changes, what will the repercussions be to our system of government and democracy?