By Tobias Chalcraft
Tomorrow the country, and Plymouth, will vote in its third general election in four years, to elect a new parliament. With Brexit, the environment and the state of our union high on the national agenda, this election will be the most important vote in decades. For those that aren’t as politically active as this writer, Generation Plymouth is here to help provide some clarity on everything you should know before the big day tomorrow.
WHO CAN I VOTE FOR?
Plymouth enjoys three constituencies, with the city centre coming within the Plymouth Sutton & Devonport constituency and other parts of the city being represented by Plymouth Moor View and South West Devon. For a list of candidates standing in your area, head to this BBC website: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/election-2019-50459517. Be sure to look up these candidates to get a good idea of their individual manifestos.
With many parties standing aside in favour of those with similar Brexit stances, Plymouth Sutton & Devonport is rare in the fact that the Brexit, Conservative & Unionist, Green, Labour and Liberal Democrat parties are all competing here for your vote.
If you are unsure which party you should support, head to https://voteforpolicies.org.uk for a brilliant unbiased survey which tells you which party you should vote for, based on your individual policy preferences.
However, if you feel unable to vote for any of the options on your ballot paper, it is better to spoil your ballot paper than not vote at all. You can spoil your ballot by leaving it blank or writing ‘none of the above’ at the bottom of the paper. These spoiled ballots appear on national statistics and inform all of the main political parties the levels of dissatisfaction with their policies. Note: If you want to spoil your ballot do not draw inappropriate images within a single box next to a candidate’s name, as this may still be counted
WHERE DO I VOTE?
Multiple schools, church halls and even some pubs across the country will temporarily convert themselves into a polling station for voters to cast their ballot. Please note you must be over 18, and registered, in order to vote.
Not sure where your polling station is? Check out https://wheredoivote.co.uk to find out where you can vote. You may be in for a surprise – you could be voting in your old primary school or local pub.
WHEN ARE POLLING STATIONS OPEN?
Polls are open from 7am to 10pm. However, if something arises and you find yourself unable to get to a polling station (and you’ve not registered a proxy or postal vote), you can register for an emergency proxy vote before 5pm on polling day. For more information, head to https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/i-am-a/voter/voting-person-post-or-proxy/voting-proxy.
Don’t let anything stop you from voting – this will have a big impact on your life, and you might not have this chance again for up to five years!
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
At 10pm, an ‘Exit Poll’ will be released – this is an estimate of the result, judging by voter feedback throughout the day. This poll is often accurate, so it will be worth checking out before you go to bed, if you want some idea of the results without staying up all night.
Following the Exit Poll, results will steadily come in throughout the night. If you are a politics geek like me, and plan to stay up all night, the most intense results will start coming through after 2am. So, the best time to nap will be 11pm-1am, although it will be nearly impossible with all the hype caused by the Exit Poll.
Pending on the results, Friday won’t offer much respite as plenty of political drama could splash the headlines, as party leaders may resign their position following poor results. There is also a moderate risk that some key figures could lose their seat – which will also pour oil onto the flames of political drama.
HOW WILL MY VOTE MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
With many seats not changing hands, and following years of political deadlock, some of you may feel that your vote won’t make a difference. However, we in Plymouth are lucky in that our seat is fairly marginal – with the Conservatives and Labour working hard to win this seat. This means that your vote could make the difference between either side winning.
Also, this election seems to be following the 2017 trend of tactical voting, as those on both sides of the Brexit argument are voting for the more likely to win candidate that backs their view on Europe. This election is a deciding moment for the UK’s relationship with Europe, so perhaps it is time to apply your vote to a different party that ensures your preferred Brexit outcome.
Even if you don’t care about politics – there other incentives, with BrewDog offering a free drink to voters who have taken a selfie outside their local polling station. You can find your local Brewdog bar here: https://www.brewdog.com/bars/uk.