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Monday, 14 May, 2001, 11:13 GMT
Persuade me to vote
Persuade me to vote graphic
A general election is the most important event in any democracy. But come polling day, 7 June, millions of potential voters are expected to stay away from the ballot box. Can you help change their minds?

Over the coming three weeks, we are asking you to persuade three avowed non-voters to change their minds by e-mailing us with your reasons. First up is Joanne Smith.

Check back on Wednesday and Thursday to see whether your arguments are having an impact on Joanne, and on Friday to see if she has changed her mind.

Why I won't be voting, by Joanne Smith:
"A lot of the time I don't really understand what each party is standing for, what they want to do. I know a bit more about Labour and I agree with some of what they're doing, that we should be a more equal society. But I disagree with giving more money to single mothers. I've not really paid much attention to Hague.

I've never really been interested in politics. I think [politicians] need to communicate better

"I voted last year, but I can't remember who for. My housemate kept on at me, talking about how Suffragettes died for us so we could vote. She had to drag me down to the polling station. I think I voted once before as well.

"I've never really been interested in politics but maybe I should be. I think [politicians] need to communicate better although I'm not sure how. Maybe the fact that I'm single, I don't have any children, I'm not in and out of hospital, explains why politics doesn't have much impact on me."

Your thoughts:

The main political parties offer nothing to young single people, and that's mostly because they expect you not to vote. If all such people voted against the established three parties, one of them will start to target your votes by attempting to do things for you.
Nick Singleton, Poole, UK

Joanne's vote REALLY does matter - it's a key seat and one that'll make a difference

Anton McCoy
Policies decided in Whitehall have an effect on how much you earn, how much you bring home, how much holiday time you have, what you can see on television, how late you can drink in a pub, whether you drive or use public transport, whether you are paid the same as a male colleague, and which drugs you can legally indulge in. You might take these things for granted, but are they guaranteed?
Alan Lansdowne, London, UK

Joanne should vote since she is in the lucky situation that due to her ward, her vote REALLY does matter. It's a key seat and one that'll make a difference. Labour won by just 189 seats in the last election - 190 lazy Labour voters or 95 Labour-to-Tory swinging votes can change it all.
Anton McCoy, London, UK

If you can't remember who you voted for only 12 months ago; have no idea of the countless historical conflicts between left and right; if you have no idea of who men and women such as Pitt, Disraeli, Gladstone, Atlee, Churchill and Thatcher are and what they stood for; then I suggest you vote for the party which offers to improve the British education system.
Matt Child, London

Since the early '80s, it has seemed not merely acceptable, but fashionable, to ignore the needs of others

Russell Jones
Just because you don't happen to have an opinion on the best method of taxation to achieve the non-inflationary rate of unemployment does not make your vote any less significant or worthy. If you believe that the personality of the leader is the most important issue, you should vote accordingly.
Sarah D, Brazil

Twenty-five years ago, the fact that Joanne was not part of the demographic targeted by major policy areas (such as funding for hospitals or schools) would not have prevented her from voting. To admit as much would be to admit to selfishness. But since the early '80s it has seemed not merely acceptable, but fashionable, to ignore the needs of others.
Russell Jones, Manchester, UK

A general election is Joanne's chance to quiz politicians about the things that DO matter to her

In the words of Jo Brand: "In 1913 Emily Davidson chucked herself under a horse to try and get on the electoral role. I'm sure I can get my arse down to the post-box."
Marilyn Bannon, Bishopsteignton, UK

If you don't vote, you don't have the right to complain about external happenings. If you're catching a bus (a problem in Kettering I know, as I'm originally from there) and the service is bad, then you have no right to complain.
Emma, Amsterdam, The Netherlands

A general election is Joanne's chance to quiz politicians about the things that DO matter to her. There are bound to be campaigners knocking on the door, so decide on a few issues which are important (whether it's animal welfare, the Third World, or increasing funding for British athletes), and find out what the different candidates plan to do about it.
Sandra, East London, UK

You work for a bank - they especially need a government that can run a stable economy

Think of the stupidest, most biased person you can think of - it doesn't matter what their views are, just think of someone who you disagree with every time you meet them. By not voting, you are increasing the value of that person's vote.
Sarah Hyde, Oxford, UK

You work for a bank - they especially need a government that can run a stable economy. Also, the government can affect their freedom to carry on their business and - on a more personal note - can make a difference to you keeping your job or getting another one.
Dan, London

If we do not vote, we will lose the right to have a say in the way our country is run and administered. The US had this opportunity recently and ended up choosing George W Bush, who in fact had less votes in total than Al Gore. Their voting problems would have been far less significant if the majority of registered voters actually bothered to poll.
John Harvie, London, UK

If she is too disinterested and stupid to remember whom she voted for last time, then far from being encouraged to vote, she should be prevented from doing so.
Neil, Rome, Italy


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