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Source: Seven, or is it eight million people have ‘dropped off’ the electoral register in Britain? October 2015 article on the wonderful  PoliticalSift blog

Seven, or is it eight million people have ‘dropped off’ the electoral register in Britain?

World population 7 billion (source, United States Census Bureau)

Now if seven, or eight million people had drowned…

But like migrants fleeing war becoming numbers and ‘quotas’, so the excoriatingly slow process of disenfranchisement has been creeping up on us all in Britain. And we’re all the poorer for it.

17 million British men and women didn’t vote in the last election. 80,000 prisoners now belong to the privatised justice system rather than Great Britain or the European Union because they can’t vote. They’re in no-man’s land and we all know how hard it is to get back from no-man’s land. Are we saying that we don’t rehabilitate any more, that we really have the world as it should be, nothing can ever improve?

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Voting is the way we have a meaningful conversation with the future rooted in the places we live, work and grow old in. That’s it.

Remember Selma, how when black citizens attend to register how they’re asked for increasingly onerous ‘evidences’ to be eligible? Liars don’t qualify? (see Junius Edwards) Have we inadvertently created systems that erode the identity and right of more and more people to be citizens in this conversation?

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Above Liars Don’t Qualify (to vote) a short story by Junious Edwards, explaining the circuitous ways Alabama sought to prevent free slaves from become citizens and voting….

 

We’re all diminished by a democratic process that gives easy and permanent membership to some but keeps pushing out, or making it impossible for some people to have the space to be citizens by introducing increasingly arduous forms of ‘supplying additional evidence’ to be able to vote.

MP  John Spellar is fighting for the right of people to vote not for the kind of system we need. Nottingham South increased voter registration by 5.9% between 2014/2o15

As an experienced Westminster politician he can see pressures bearing down on parliament for change: automation, lobbies, boundaries, proportional representation  but chooses encouraging the registration process because so many people have been discouraged from feeling worthy of a vote. He’s a politician who thinks about the whole of society. Is it bonkers to think about the wellbeing of everyone?

 

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Above image from Why Homeless People Don’t Vote: New Statesman

And fighting for balance (I don’t care who you vote for but I want you to feel how important your vote is) and a balanced economy, as well as a much, much broader sense of who and what a customer is, what a product is and who it can be for needs to be at the core of the new society.

This is a time where we seem to be enfranchising robotic algorithms  at the expense of really testing out the technology in the unruly realities where we all get born, live, learn, work, play, get ill, get well, have accidents.

The European parliament has urged the drafting of a set of regulations to govern the use and creation of robots and artificial intelligence, including a form of “electronic personhood” to ensure rights and responsibilities for the most capable AI.”

This legal testing has always gone on but it’s a good moment to talk about what this examination of future technology should facilitate.

How about:

Great part time jobs: 2,3,4 days a week a job for everyone, paid, with a meaningful contract and pension with access to skill and training development throughout their lives.

Why can’t we work all the way through our lives, happily, constructively and creatively?

We need technology like we need food but we also need to connect it to an idea of enfranchisement that is economic, social and cultural. We need technology companies, we need science and biotech but we need to understand that we need a much broader recognition that competence and innovation is happening everywhere, all the time.

And recognising the importance of voting will help this happen.

In our new registration system for voting, according to Gideon Seymour, more than 7 million voters who were previously on the register were not matched on the new database and would need to provide additional evidence of residence. If they failed to provide the extra information they could be removed from the electoral register.

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Why are some people strongly of the belief that they can’t vote/shouldn’t vote/it’s not worth it for me to vote?

When the Red Cross is allowed to make an utterly irresponsible press release (but shies away from committing itself to writing anything about the ‘crisis’ on its blog or website) you begin to realise how manipulable we are.

No wonder the BBC have set up a fact checking department.

Registering to vote, now in 2017 is part of a tangible way people can begin to feel part of a truth they live.

So beggars aren’t on the streets because they have faulty genes, the streets aren’t filthy because the people who use the streets are filthy. The streets around us are a reminder of the parts of ourselves that we neglect to care for.  We don’t realise that by not registering our need to vote that we’re shutting down parliamentary discussion and debate about what’s important to us.

Parliament then becomes a place for ‘not us’,  not a place where the results of universal suffrage are accounted for and tested, where everyone feels they are represented, they can see and hear themselves.

Believe it or not, parliament is really, really interesting. Unlike the Sun it won’t scorch your eyes. Watch it, on Freeview channel 131: it’s great!

But parliament and the vote need to come together again.

 

 

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