Today, I took a bold step in the name of democracy: I surrendered my vote.
I burned it.
First, some background.
I am registered to vote at two different addresses, in two different regions.
I should point out to non-election law geeks (apart from the fact that you’ve taken a serious wrong turn somewhere in the web-o-blag) that this is entirely legal.
In fact, it’s even legal to vote twice in some sets of elections, but only if you don’t vote twice for the same democratic body. Hence, whilst if you’re registered in both West Bumfluffshire District Council and Pimple-with-Acne District Councils, you can vote in the council elections of each – even if the elections are held at the same time, on the same day.
You couldn’t so so for a general election – because both votes are for representatives to the same Parliament – nor could you in a council election if both of your addresses were in West Bumfluffshire.
Usually, the question doesn’t arise, because my registered addresses are so far apart – my main residence is now in Saaaarf London, and my other registered address (that of my parents, and a slight hang-over from when I was a student, and was resident at each of my addresses for roughly half of the year) was somewhere distant and provincial. I couldn’t physically vote in each, and I was only a registered postal voter in one.
This year, however, I forgot about my old postal vote (registered at the address of Momma and Poppa VoteRedGoGreen), and also registered for a postal in a South London Borough.
Interestingly, both arrived at my South London flat on the same day.
What’s a politically engaged comrade to do? In practice, although illegal, nobody would ever know if I filled in both ballot papers and sent them to two different Returning Officers. And two votes for Labour is always better than one vote for Labour, especially in these European Elections.
However, if you will permit me a short pompous and moral outburst, there are principles at stake here. Comrades past fought for each man and woman to be enfranchized equally. If I believe in that cause, it stands to reason that I shouldn’t play the system, even if the opportunity arises.
So I took one of the ballots – the non-London one, if you must know. I tore it into little pieces. Then I took it into the garden, and set the small bundle of democracy aflame. I even took a picture.
The flame of democracy lives still
My flatmate and fellow paintbrush comrade Durbinite (the blogging comrade formerly known as ElectionsProduceErections, who appears to be cleaning up his act somewhat) chastized me for “dicking about” and “making a mess in the garden”.
He was right, of course, and I still need to clean it up. But it’s a mess in the name of principle and democracy, and as such is a beautiful thing.