Are you using your right to vote?

Posted 27 June 2024

Chris is one of our single-parent campaigners. We’re delighted she’s shared this guest blog about what the General Election means to her and her family.

Our household is full of hope and excitement for the General Election. My son turns 18 this month, which makes him eligible to vote for the very first time.  He already takes a keen interest in politics. So it’s an understatement when I say he’s thrilled at the prospect of marking his first-ever ballot paper!

We’ve been looking forward to this for some time and I can’t wait to accompany him to our polling station. What better way to mark his coming of age than by casting his vote for the MP he wants to represent us in Parliament?

Whether it’s a General or Local Election, voting has always been an absolute must in our family.

I remember my Dad, now in his 80s, was always as proud as punch after he’d been to the polling station.  He would come back from voting, delighted with himself and boasting about it.  So naturally we learned from his competitive example.  As he would say, there’s no room to complain if you don’t bother to vote.

The General Election is a once-in-5-years opportunity to have your voice heard

And as single parents, don’t we know how important that is! Our lives and our priorities matter. And during this election campaign, MPs up and down the land are crying out for our attention.  So let’s seize this opportunity, and put our power as voters to good use.

I’m also very mindful that it’s an opportunity to honour our heroes from the past.  We have a great deal to be thankful for in the UK.  The Suffragette movement gave women equal rights to vote. And the recent 80th anniversary of D-Day reminded us how many teenage soldiers died for democracy. These things may sound like ancient history, but they happened just a few generations ago. And even today, there are other countries where people don’t have the right to vote in free and fair elections.

It’s vital to be able to express yourself and your needs during an election. But that doesn’t mean we are being selfish with our vote. It’s an opportunity to vote on behalf of those we love and care about, our children for instance.  And of course, by voting, we set a good example to them.

As a child I used to see polling stations as dull, serious places. But as an adult, I think they’re anything but boring! I’ve worked for my local authority, and I’ve met many council workers over the years who see working at the polling station as a highly coveted day away from the routines of their normal role.

And most importantly, they’re more than happy to meet, greet and help members of the public, offering any support you need to cast your vote.

Despite still being competitive by nature, sadly my dear Dad is no longer as mobile or healthy as he once was. These days he takes advantage of a postal vote which he sends off in advance of polling day itself. Because if there’s one thing in life he’s taught us, it’s ‘Use it, don’t lose it!’

So for our family this election is a significant event.  I’ve even organised a polling card for my older son, who currently has no fixed address, since a no-fault eviction two years ago caused our family to separate.

I can’t predict the results on 4 July, but one thing’s for certain. Over the next few days I’ll be reminding each of my sons and anyone else who cares to listen :

‘On polling day, make sure you have your say in the running of our country! Make your vote count!’

Will you be voting on 4 July?