>In seven days time the polls will be open!!

Unlike in recent years I am actually having to schedule in a trip to my polling station to cast my vote. Getting a postal vote here in Northern Ireland isn’t quite as universal as it would be in Scotland. I will be presented with three ballot papers, two which for the Assembly and Council I’ve still to work out my lower preferences, seeing as I get to elect six people with each preferences down the list do matter. The other ballot is one I’ve known for months exactly how I’ll be voting.

Of course I’ll be voting Yes! for Alternative Vote by using an X. Some people might think it odd that I’m voting for AV using an X more associated with FPTP but I have voted in AV elections by an X before. While internal elections in the party are decided by preferential voting STV for committee spots and AV for single positions, there are occasions that only two people stand for a position and therefore an X suffices. It’s why when people misrepresent Nick Clegg’s ‘miserable little compromise’ comment they have it all wrong, we are a party that elects people to stand for a particular position by AV.

The miserable compromise came in the time that Gordon Brown tried to over up a smorgasbord of electoral and parliamentary reform, in the dying days of his premiership, when it looked like nothing could help him overcome the Conservatives in the polls and even the Lib Dems were threatening to be higher than Labour.

But there is also a misunderstanding of what are MPs are there to represent. Alex Salmond is once again trying to say that the Additional Member System in Scotland the second vote is there to elect a President First Minister, rather than MSPs to represent the region. The No 2 AV campaign seem to make the same mistake with why we elect our MPs. MPs are elected to best represent the voters in that constituency. Sometimes that does come from one of the two main parties, sometimes that comes from another party or from an independent. Westminster elections do not of themselves elect the Prime Minister only 1 in 650 voters have a say in electing the Prime Minister and even they don’t always sure if they have or some other set of voters elsewhere have done so.

What we have in the UK is a representative democracy. We the people elect our representatives, they in turn vote for or against the Government of the day. What we are doing when we vote for MPs is elect the person we think will represent the needs of our area best. That is what AV will ensure that each voter in all of the constituencies will have, an MP with the backing of 50% of the valid votes.

Over 60% of us say we are willing to vote for more than one candidate, only 18% say they will only vote for one. How many of that 60% have already had to compromise on their opinions to vote to try to keep someone else out rather than for what they truly believe. Research shows that over 23% of us have voted for somebody else. Even that figure is higher than the number who say they only have one preference of who they will vote for.

Voting No in seven days time will restrict you to a signle choice in Westminster elections. More of us want to have that option of expressing our opinion than those who are tied to one particular party. More of us have voted for more than one option in our lives than those who will only ever vote one way. Is it right that they can scare people into thinking that a limit of one option is the way to decide who best represents you. I don’t and most of those who vote don’t.

That’s why I’m saying Yes! next Thursday.

If you are voting in Northern Ireland don’t forget to take along your ID with you.

  • A UK, Irish or EEA driving licence (photographic part)
  • A UK, Irish or EU passport
  • An electoral identity card
  • A Translink Senior SmartPass
  • A Translink 60+ SmartPass
  • A Translink War Disabled SmartPass
  • A Translink Blind Person’s SmartPass
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