An election: so how are the democratic foundations?

If you’re checking out a house, it’s probably a good idea to start with the foundations. If they’re not sound, no matter how elegant the sitting room and how hi-tech the kitchen and how well-tended the garden, you’ve got a problem.

Which is why, as the people in the south start on their much-anticipated election, it’s probably sensible to check that the basics of the system are in good shape.While not wanting to throw in a spoiler, they’re not.

The fact that thousands of people are currently not on the electoral register should be is a scandal.  The first duty of the state is to defend its citizens. That thousands should be at risk (to put it optimistically) over whether they’ll be allowed to vote is such a basic flaw it’s dangerous and depressing.

The second follows from this, and I know there are those who somehow see it as an imposition: all members of the population should be automatically deemed members of the electorate.If you’re Irish, you can vote (no, Virginia, the north is another topic for another day) agus sin é. One hundred per cent registration.

And finally, I would maintain without a moment’s hesitation that everyone entitled to vote   — everyone  – should be made to vote. Talk of personal choice is twaddle.  When someone chooses not to vote, they’re not only welching on their own civic duty: they’re damaging the whole concept of democracy, where the people decide who is being elected to government. We don’t allow people to drive at whatever speed they choose,  or shout “Fire!” in a crowded auditorium: they’re not only putting themselves in danger, they’re endangering everyone around. It’s not allowed, and neither should thickos who stay at home and pick fluff from their navel be allowed to opt out of their civic duty.

A footnote for another day: the wards and constituencies must be made up in a way that is meticulously fair. There should be NO hint that the bad old days of gerrymandering are making a comeback.

There. And I never even mentioned health pr education. If the foundations are dubious, it won’t matter if you get to see the doc inside three days.

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