So the starting gun has now been officially fired for the 2015 election and lots of politicians of all parties are now desperately scrambling around for votes.
But whilst some are politically engaged, there are huge numbers of people who don’t really understand what this is all about. Some years ago when not politically active, I actually helped to administer a general election polling station and was genuinely surprised how many people came up with questions that polling staff were not mainly allowed to answer. Other questions have come up socially, colleagues, young people or when knocking on the doors. So here goes with the first instalment (all of which are genuine questions asked)…
Q: What am I actually voting for?
A: Every adult in Surrey Heath has 1 vote (about 70 000 people) to decide who they want to be their representative (or MP). That person will then go to Parliament and vote on national issues like health, education, transport and defence. There are 650 MPs in total and they cover the whole of the UK namely England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Q: Who are my candidates?
A: We don’t know for sure as the list of candidates will be published by the local Council on Friday 10th April. However, there are currently 7 people that have stated they wish to stand for election in Surrey Heath.
Q: Can I vote for David Cameron/Ed Miliband/Nigel Farage/Boris Johnson etc? Why are they not on the ballot paper?
A: No – You can only vote for one of the candidates standing in Surrey Heath. David Cameron is a candidate in Oxfordshire, Ed Miliband in Doncaster, Nigel Farage in Kent and Boris Johnson in London.
Q: I don’t understand all the party stuff – what’s that about?
A: Most candidates standing in the national (or general) election are doing so on behalf of a political party. Therefore, in Surrey Heath, the candidates are from Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrats, United Kingdom Independence Party, Green Party, Art Party and Christian Party. You can just stand as yourself (or Independent) if you want. All of the parties have different ideas (or policies) on what they would do if they won. The names of the parties will be on the ballot paper along with their party logo.
Q: I’m Scottish and want to vote for the Scottish National Party – can I do this here?
A: No – Not in Surrey Heath – they have decided only to put up candidates in Scotland.
Q: But I thought that being a Councillor was the same as being an MP?
A:No – there are also local elections taking place on the same day and that decides who is your local rep. In Surrey Heath, there are currently 16 different areas (called wards) and 40 people will be elected. These people will decide local issues like refuse collection, planning and parks and they meet in Camberley.
Q: Can I vote on the internet?
A: No – you either have to turn up in person to your local polling station or make an application in advance to vote by post.
Q: Can I go to any polling station – there will be one near where I work?
A: No – You should receive a card in the post in the next week or so from the Council and this will tell you where you need to go. If you don’t get a card or don’t know, the Council should be able to help especially if you have moved house over the last year.
Will tweet any more questions and do a 2nd instalment nearer Election Day all about voting.