Forget Alternative Vote – today is all about the Apathetic Voter

In case by some miracle of media avoidance you hadn’t realised, today is May 5th. It’s otherwise known as “the big day” to Lib Dem fans and hat-doffing Tories alike, or, er, May 5th, to those who have given up on the coalition government already.

Of course, it’s election day, and it’s referendum day. For these precious few hours, we get to queue to give our opinion on the alternative vote (AV), a system that doesn’t seem to be thoroughly trial-run. But then, I would say that – I’m part of the minority that’s ignored the television adverts, flicked through those parts of the newspapers and averted their eyes from the stickers on bus stops. Why? I’m an Apathetic Voter.

There are so many arguements to each side, it’s difficult to know who to believe. That’s politics, yes. But it’s also bloody confusing and at the end of the day, I really don’t believe that my vote would make a difference. So why spend precious Glee-watching time researching something I’m not remotely interested in?

Most people would say, naturally, that everyone should vote because, put simply, it matters. Or else, because referendums are incredibly rare.

There must be a feeling around university towns today though, especially Sheffield, that there’s not a lot we can do. Last time we tried to vote, hundreds of people were left out, quite literally, in the rain. I was at one of those polling stations at 10pm, and watched the doors closed behind me, one of the lucky ones. I saw the segregation, I heard the chants, and the disappointment was instant.

That’s not even where it ended. For students in particular, many voted on something that seemed hopeful, a promise that someone was looking out for people like us. And where did it get us? On the streets, protesting hopelessly against something that could devastate higher education for generations to come.

It’s a disappointment that stays with you, and taints your view of the political process. Perhaps AV is a fairer way to do things, or perhaps it’s a waste of an alleged £250 million, and perhaps I’m being horrifically naive. But some time last year, I lost whatever faith I had in UK politics. Like everything else, politicians will find a way to twist AV to their advantage. I know this for sure: when everything goes tits up, either way, this time I won’t feel responsible.

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