- Created: Wednesday, 09 June 2010 22:03
- Written by Cat Wiener
FRFI 215 June/ July 2010
Amid the chaos, incompetence and sheer stupidity that marked the polling arrangements, what emerged most starkly was the total contempt in which the so-called ‘democratic’ system in
Across the country, thousands of voters in
What is clear is that in many parts of
Problems were reported throughout the day: people were turned away because polling lists had not been updated, hundreds of missing postal ballots, insufficient ballot papers and lengthening queues.
Then, when polling closed at 10pm, presiding officers in many areas simply closed the doors, leaving hundreds who had been queueing for hours outside. In Sheffield Hallam, 5,000 students were told to form a separate queue from ‘residents’, with some waiting three hours and still being unable to vote by 10pm. Some angry voters tried to prevent ballot boxes being removed from the polling station and police were called; others tore up their polling cards in disgust. Many went in person to protest at the
• Paul Rogerson, acting returning officer in
• Sir Howard Bernstein, in Manchester Withington, where up to 250 voters were turned. Fee: £9,251
• Colin Hilton in Wavertree,
Voters were also turned away in Birmingham Ladywood, Hackney North and Stoke Newington, Hackney South and Shoreditch, Islington North, Manchester Withington and
Only a handful of polling stations, including in Lewisham, where police were called after 300 people were told they would be unable to vote at Manwood Road, sought a democratic solution; they crammed everyone in, locked the doors, issued everyone with a ballot paper before 10pm – thus obeying the letter of the law – and allowed voting to continue.
The Electoral Commission has urged an immediate review ‘to ensure these problems are not repeated at future elections’.
Of course, the election would have been a farce even if the process had functioned smoothly, with voters reduced to choosing between three parties so similar that no clear choice could emerge. And, other than in marginal seats, each vote is virtually meaningless. Yet however compromised our bourgeois democracy may be, however irrelevant to the mass of the working class, we must defend such democratic rights as we have – and that includes the right to vote.