Be honest – were you filled with dread when this general election was announced? Maybe you’ve got this “election fatigue” that everyone is talking about. Maybe you don’t want to see your Facebook feed covered in political memes. Or maybe, like a lot of people, you don’t really understand what it’s all about.
There’s no shame in that! Whether you’ve never voted before or you’ve always kinda cobbled your way through it, there are plenty of us who feel overwhelmed by the amount of information there is to absorb suddenly when campaign season rolls around. It might feel easier to write yourself off as non-political and avoid it all for fear of being caught out – but then you don’t get your say, and where’s the fairness in that?
Luckily, the internet is here to save the day. There are useful tools and sites popping up all over the place to help you make your decisions with plenty of time to spare, so you too can join in with the polling station selfies on 8th June… and actually feel secure in your vote.
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Start with the basics: Use Your Voice
What’s the difference between the House of Commons and the House of Lords? And actually, what’s a ‘snap election’?! Whether you feel completely in the dark or just fancy a refresher course on the basics, the Use Your Voice toolkit released this week is a great place to start. Written by and aimed primarily at first-time voters (but useful for anyone who feels confused), this is a completely unbiased guide to the general election. You can even find out how to set up your own political party, if all this research leaves you thinking you could do better yourself…
Who do I vote for? I Side With
Ah, the difficult bit. We’ve still got a couple of weeks before the election, but if you’ve no idea where to start then that doesn’t feel like a long time to navigate the nitty-gritty of who’s going to be running your country. Luckily, there are tools to make it easier. I Side With asks you how you feel about certain issues, for example, “Should there be more or less privatisation of the NHS?” and then tells you how much you align with each party’s views. Most of the questions are yes or no, but if you have the time you can select more complex stances or add your own, as well as select how important that particular issue is to you.
If you find the results interesting, you can also see how your views compare with major parties around the world; click the flag on your results page to see how you might vote in the USA, Canada or in one of our European neighbours. Got the bug, haven’t you?
Keep things social: Tweet The Vote
Even though it’s Jeremy Corbyn (Labour) or Theresa May (Conservative) who'll be running the show, you’ll actually be voting to elect your local MP. Not sure who that is? Tweet The Vote will take your postcode to check which constituency you live in, then give you your candidates as well as links to their Twitter accounts. While it might not be the most traditional method, following your candidates over the next couple of weeks could be useful for keeping up with the materials that the parties are putting out, as well as give you some context of who your vote is going to, and what they stand for personally.
Where to vote if you're a student: GE2017 Students
Students are in a unique position in the UK, because they get to decide where they want to vote: home or away. It might seem easiest just to vote where you’re going to be on the day but, actually, depending on your political leanings, that might not be the best option. Enter your home postcode (probably your parents’ house) and your uni postcode to see how people in your constituency are likely to vote. If one of them is a 'swing seat' a.k.a. an area where the vote could go either way, that may be a better use of your vote if you want to clinch a seat in parliament for your chosen party.
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Tactical voting: Stop The Tories
‘Tactical voting’ sounds instantly complicated but really, in this case, it’s just about stopping a party who is likely to do well. Realistically, as the Conservatives are currently in power and are polling ahead, most of the tactical voting that will happen this election will be to try and beat them. If you’re most concerned with knocking Ms May off her perch, Stop The Tories is an online tool that tells you the best way to vote in your constituency. Of course, the final decision in who you want to vote for is always up to you but if, for example, you actually wouldn’t mind if Labour or the Green Party won the seat in your constituency, and you’d prefer either over the Conservatives, this site will let you know which candidate in your area has the highest chance of succeeding.
The bottom line: Register To Vote
Hopefully this has given you some food for thought. What you can expect to see coming up are more comparisons between the main party manifestos (the big old PDF booklets that lay out all of the plans and policies each party intends to bring in should they be elected). The Conservatives have finally released theirs, along with the Liberal Democrats, so we’re in a better position to compare them all side by side. Keep an eye out for manifesto summaries from reputable news sites for a handy breakdown but if you’ve really got the information bug then all the documents are available to read in full online, too.
None of this matters unless you’re registered to vote. Visit here before midnight on Monday 22nd May to have your say in the general election. It takes two minutes. More Like what you see? How about some more R29 goodness, right here? Anthony Weiner Pleads Guilty In Sexting Case Sweden Drops The Julian Assange Rape Investigation, But That Doesn't Mean He's Free Who Is Michael Flynn & Why Is He On The News So Often?