Thursday, May 06, 2010


I've just been to exercise my democratic right, do my civic duty, or whatever other euphemism you like to use for the act of voting in an election.

I assume in the rest of the world it operates in mostly the same way. Schools, village halls and other public places are given over for the day and a little gang of people move into the building to administer the voting process. Here, I vote in the local primary school. It's always nice to go in there and see the world downsized by 75% so tables only come up to knee height and everything is conveniently to hand about 50cm off the ground. It's like I imagine it would be to visit Lilliput. Lovely.

We have notoriously poor levels of turnout for our elections. Many put this down to simple apathy and indifference to politicians and their dubious credentials. I think it's more likely that because of the system we operate here, if you are in a so called "safe seat" it's very likely you know who's going to win and therefore, if you're contemplating voting for anyone other than the likely local winner, there's actually not much point in turning up. In some constituencies it is often said that a tactically shaved monkey wearing the right coloured rosette will get elected. This I suspect keeps a good few people away from the whole malarkey.

But I think the government is missing an opportunity here. Betting. Why, when you place your vote can't you have a flutter on the outcome as well? Polling stations seem to be abundantly staffed with mostly bored looking people. I'll have a fiver on the nose on the LibDem candidate and a £2.50 each way punt on Labour. This way, even though I might be voting for a certain loser (that'll be my free bet), I might still win a few bob on the outcome. The odds may be pretty short in some places but it'll be like the Grand National. Everyone will have a go and everyone could be a winner. The turnout will be up and the incoming government will get a few quid out of the process - and looking at our current state of our economy, they're gonna need it.

Because it's like the Grand National when even the most ill informed punter will want to waste their money you will get a fair number of people voting for probable losers. Little old ladies will bet on "that nice man with a pink hanky in his breast pocket". Astrologically challenged nitwits will perhaps bet on number four on the list "cos Mars is in my orbit this month and it's fourth closet to the" and so forth. This improves the odds for the hardened gamblers who are betting on winners and also should improve the returns to the government. Turnout would rocket up to 90% in a trice I reckon.

In some parts of the world voting is compulsory. Here you don't have to if you don't want to. In the one the part of the world where I do know you don't have a choice, the entire country is populated with habitual gamblers anyway.


Terra Shield said...

Yes, placing bets on the candidates will be much more fun. I am disheartened by the so called democratic system... (well, the way it is in my country, actually)

nursemyra said...

who you calling a nation of gamblers? oh that's right, it's us.....

King of Scurf said...

Terra: Democracy does indeed throw up some strange outcomes. One of the possible outcomes of last Thursday's election is a goverment formed by all the parties who lost and the winners being shut out.

nursemyra: It might be you....and then might not be you. Care for a small wager on it?

sabrina said...

The situation is the same here where most people dont bother voting. I have been guitly of this for the past 10 years and only just registered!