My good friend and ex-politician Nelson McCausland, in a recent conversation, seemed to express the belief that much of the non-voting section of the population can be explained by the existence of people on benefits who don’t want their identity or whereabouts revealed. I rarely disagree with such a gleaming intellect but in this case I feel I must, if only because I couldn’t quite make out what the hell he was talking about. The fact is, just under 65% of voters turned out last time (10% up on last year), which would leave 35% of voters under suspicion of doing tricky stuff with the benefits system. I know we’re a bad lot but that does seem excessive.
As I’ve mentioned on more than one occasion, I don’t like it when voters choose not to exercise their franchise. So I got to thinking of reasons why they might so act (or not act in this case).
- Non-voters derive deep pleasure from scratching their backsides, and even the half-hour that might be needed to go down and make their mark on the ballot paper is to them time wasted. Sharp-nailing across their rear-end trumps all other activities.
- Non-voters are in charge of an elderly relative who needs 24-hour attention. Other relatives and neighbours, when approached to fill in for a half-hour, have laughed scornfully. So the non-voting saint is, so to say, chained to the bed of their elderly ailing relative. A grim fate but one which they embrace gallantly.
- Every election time, just as they are about to leave the house and head down to the polling station, non-voters trip and break both legs in the hall-way. There they lie in excruciating agony for up to ten hours, until the polling booths are closed, at which point a neighbour discovers them and ferries them to the fractures clinic.
- When the non-voter’s mother was expecting them, she was badly traumatised by entering a room in which the radio was playing Willie McCrea singing “In the Shelter of His Arms”. As a result, the non-voter has, since childhood, been breaking out in hives when s/he hears the word ‘Election’ and remains bedridden and hive-raddled until the votes are cast and everyone’s gone home.
- Non-voters are deeply cynical people who know the price of everything and the value of nothing. They think that saying “Politicians – they’re all the same – useless” shows how razor-sharp their judgement is. When someone explains that this statement makes as much sense as saying “Bus-drivers – they’re all the same – useless” or “Brain-surgeons – they’re all the same – useless”, the non-voter rolls their eyes and goes back to watching EastEnders.
The only question remaining is, should we put such people in the stocks and hurl rotting fruit and vegetables at them every election day; or pass them over to mental health experts, to see if electroconvulsive therapy might help them see that voting is their civic duty.