In the Assembly election of 2017, nearly 65% of registered voters cast a vote. Put another way, over one-third of registered voters couldn’t be bothered voting.
I often wonder what these people do during polling day. Do they spend the entire time learning tap-dancing, or performing brain surgery, or slouched in front of the TV scratching themselves and breaking wind?
At the Epsom Derby on 4 June 1913, the suffragette Emily Davison stepped in front of King George V’s horse and was killed. Prior to that she had been jailed 10 times and force-fed 101 times. To say that this woman believed in the importance of having a vote would be to understate on a grand scale.
Twenty-two countries make voting mandatory. They include Belgium, Brazil, Greece and Australia. Why? Because they see voting as a social duty, just as sending your children to school or paying your taxes is a civic duty. If we made school-going or tax-paying voluntary, human nature being what it is, we’d have an ignorant and chaotic society.
So a week from today, ask yourself not are you feeling lucky (punk), but are you sufficiently concerned about who governs you, that you think it’s worth the fifteen or twenty minutes it’d take to get down to the polling centre and cast your vote. In my judgement and without exaggeration, next Thursday could mark a key date in Irish history.
And no, we don’t get the politicians we vote for, not in all cases anyway. We get the politicians that couch-potato wind-breakers land us with.