Voting is Important in Spite of What Churchill Said

In a poll organised by the BBC in 2002, Sir Winston Churchill was voted the greatest Briton of all time. 78 years ago this month, it was said of him that he “…mobilised the English language and sent it into battle.” One of the main reasons Churchill took on that challenge in the spring of 1940 was to defend our way of life – including our democracy. Yet he has also been quoted as saying democracy “…is the worst form of government – except all the others that have been tried” and that a five-minute conversation with the average voter is the best argument against democracy.

Fast forward to 2018. Politicians today are probably as unpopular as they have ever been and it is democracy that gets a bad name as a result

For our democracy to have any chance of working – however imperfectly – the second thing we all have to do is vote. The first is to make sure we are eligible to vote.

You can register to vote online You will need your name, address, date of birth and National Insurance number.

If you:

i) receive a form through the post from your local Electoral Registration Officer it will offer various options for registration, including filling in the form and returning it by post,

ii) live in Waverley and are not sure whether you are registered to vote, contact the Electoral Services Team, email: or tel: 01483 523116,

iii) don’t want your name and address published on the open register which can be accessed by commercial organisations, you can opt out on line or by contacting the Electoral Services Team (your details will still appear on the full register and your ability to vote will not be affected),

iv) have a valid reason for keeping your entry on the register anonymous (for example, because you are escaping domestic violence or keeping your identity private because of your occupation) contact the Electoral Services Team.

Who can vote in a UK General Election?  At the moment:

  1. Commonwealth citizens, British citizens and citizens of the Republic of Ireland who are registered to vote and normally resident in the area on the qualifying date and who will be aged 18 or over during the period covered by the electoral register are eligible to vote in any election.
  2. British citizens living abroad can vote in UK Parliamentary and European Parliamentary elections if they have previously been resident in the UK and included in the electoral register in the last fifteen years.  They cannot vote in local elections or elections to devolved bodies such as the Scottish Parliament, National Assembly for Wales or Greater London Authority. They are registered to vote in the same Parliamentary Constituency as before they went abroad.
  3. Peers and EU citizens cannot vote in Parliamentary Elections.

Finally if you know you will be away on the date of an election you can apply for a postal vote. However, voting forms are sent out 14 – 15 days before an election, so you will need to be sure you will be able to receive them in time. If you are not, you can consider applying to vote by proxy. This means the person you name can go to your polling station and vote on your behalf.

Worried about something?

Don’t put it off – Citizens Advice Waverley (CAW) can almost certainly help. For free, independent, confidential advice on a range of topics, from debt to immigration or housing and benefits to worries about how you are treated at work call:

0344 848 7969

or visit:

Citizens Advice Waverley is a registered charity. You can help local people get the support they need by making a donation to Citizens Advice Waverley at donation stays local and will ensure we are here to help local people when they need it most.

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