Whatever you do this election make your vote count…

As the scandal, exposés and drip feed of information continues from various departments and political parties over the renewable heat incentive scheme, there is one certainty.  We will be going to the polls on Thursday 2 March.

Regardless of the why, we, the voters, have been handed a golden opportunity to pass judgement on the performance of our elected representatives.

We have an opportunity to appease the ghosts of the 2016 elections, which saw Brexit and Trump triumph.  We have an opportunity to reduce the mandate of Northern Ireland’s largest political party to below the 30-signature threshold required to trigger a petition of concern.  We can eliminate the automatic ability of the DUP to wield it at will in favour of their own.

Of course, you may be happy with the status quo and that is your democratic right.  However you still need to vote.

Voting is one of the most fundamental rights we enjoy.  It was not until the Equal Franchise Act of 1928 that women over 21 were able to vote and women finally achieved the same voting rights as men.  That’s just 89 years ago.  And every vote really does count.  Remember when Michelle Gildernew won her seat by just four votes in the 2010 Westminster election?  Even the Brexit outcome saw a relatively small number of votes, in the context of the voting population, secure the result. 

Who to vote for in Northern Ireland is a perennial problem, with the narrow choice between themuns and t’other ones, and political parties will have a job to do to galvanise a weary public into casting their vote.

However “the public” is angry at the waste of money, time and effort that seems to recur on the hill.  Our MLAs are supposed to work for us.  Our votes got them into office.

Anecdotally, there are stories circulating of people who have never voted pledging to vote.  You can’t believe everything (anything?) you read online but there are indications that some will change how they vote.  In a country with such tribal divisions, even a small change in voting preference could translate into big change at the outcome. 

For those who are starting to consider to whom they will give those all-important preferences, there is a need to cut through the political rhetoric and propaganda that is being perpetuated.  Ask yourself what is important to you?  It could be job creation, equality, the environment; your local hospital or GP practice.  Or perhaps your children or grandchildren’s future. 

Then take action. 

Put your questions to the candidates.  Expect answers.  Then make an informed decision and come polling day, vote for the future you want. 

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  • Nevin

    Sara, might you be the Communications and Events Officer for the Green Party? If so, shouldn’t you have declared an interest at the end of your blog?

  • Brian O’Neill

    Er you do see the big grey bio box were it says ‘She previously worked for the Green Party for #AE16’ https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2591561b055082f95eab0e4d747486b17eb1b893dd6dcf282aa59daf7cc6c188.jpg ??

  • Colm Heaney

    People in Britain can register to vote online, but here, in 2017 we have to phone the bloody electoral office just to find out if we are on the register! What a joke…

  • Brian O’Neill

    You can save time and send them a fax…

  • Granni Trixie

    Plus I think most parties in Ni are making a plea for people to come out and vote to counter apathy.

  • Nevin

    Thanks, Brian. I missed that!

  • samay

    How the heck can I make my vote count? I have voted at every election since 1974 and my vote has had exactly zero effect over all the years. And we are looking at the same old, same old, all over again. I would like to see a joint authority from London and Dublin….but I don’t think either have even a passing interest.

  • NotNowJohnny

    You make your vour vote count by using it. Every government in these islands gets into power solely in the basis of individual people doing that. Your vote is as valid as everyone else’s and therefore there’s no less reason for you to vote than anyone else. If you can’t decide who to vote for, then use your vote to help throw some scoundrel out.

  • Dan

    Can we have a box for ‘direct rule’ on the ballot papers, please

  • the rich get richer

    Is it too late to bring back Ian Paisley(Old Ian)…….hard as it is to believe but he was better than the present DUP lot………………..

  • Madra Uisce

    Yeah lets just be ruled by people who dont stand for election and have no mandate, there is a word for that.

  • articles

    Fair play to you Sara for successfully going undercover with the Green Party but with a pitch like that, part naïve part wishful, you’re obviously a member of the MRLParty. But for what’s its worth I agree wholeheartedly with you.

  • Anthony O’Shea

    Its up to your gang granni, get the sleepers off their sofas.

  • Granni Trixie

    Actually “get off the sofa” is a great strapline.

  • BT15GS

    Einstein is supposedly associated with the quotation “The definition of stupidity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome” Only 10 months after the last election perhaps we will remember that on 2nd March. It is interesting that since the last NI Assembly election there have been two other votes (EU referendum in UK and US presidential election) that have demonstrated the power of the electorate in an unexpected way. This would surely encourage many voters to consider that it is possible to achieve change this time, and to encourage the many traditional non voters to participate more actively in choosing their representatives for the next assembly, perhaps focusing on those who haven’t just messed it up for the umpteenth time.

  • Liggy85

    Exactly. You’d think Paisley’s DUP or Robinson’s DUP would be bad enough….
    ……Foster’s DUP has trumped them both.

  • Liggy85

    Absolutely not. We should have the right, and more importantly, the ability to govern our own province. It’s not the form of government that’s the problem, it’s the people who are elected into that government. The only hope for real change doesn’t lie with direct rule or even a United Ireland……it comes from electing the right people into the right seats.

  • Dan

    It’s entirely the form of government that’s the problem.