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Friday, 18 May, 2001, 13:57 GMT
'I'm still not voting'
He won't budge. Despite the efforts of hundreds of BBC News Online users, avowed non-voter Albert Atkin is still planning to give the polling station a wide berth on 7 June.
Albert, a 26-year-old PhD philosophy student from Sheffield, was the second candidate in our Persuade Me to Vote series. Earlier this week, bank cashier Joanne Smith changed her mind and decided she would vote after hearing some of the arguments e-mailed in by user [see Related stories, right].
According to some estimations, up to 13 million people will stay away from the ballot box on general election day this year. The figure is considered to be abnormally high.
As with the previous Persuade Me to Vote, the response from users, who were asked to e-mail with reasons why Albert should vote, was outstanding. But having heard a selection of opinions, Albert stuck to his guns.
These are Albert's original reasons for staying at home on polling day.
Why I won't be voting, by Albert Atkin:
"I genuinely feel that no one involved in mainstream politics represents my feelings on any key subject. The result is that I feel politically neutered and disenfranchised.
"What's worse is that I'm not a political extremist by any measure, which just goes to show how limited the range of views represented by the parties are.
"How can I exercise my democratic right to vote when there is no real choice about who to vote for? As such, I think it's best not to vote at all and instead be part of that statistic that suggests the political alienation that I know I feel.
"I wouldn't want any of the current parties thinking that they speak for me or the majority of fair-minded people I know."
Some of your arguments:
Albert:"I agree totally. The thing that really pricks my conscience about not voting is that PR would go some way in opening up the debate. But the Lib Dems are not going to get in power and as a traditional Labour voter I have a serious block about voting Liberal."
Albert: "I agree, but then spoiling your ballot paper is as open to misinterpretation as not voting at all. It could be seen as 'you're too stupid to even put a cross in a box'. If there was a 'dissatisfied' box on the ballot paper, I would cross it."
Albert: "That's the alternative approach - to vote for damage limitation; who is least likely to ruin the country. I think that's a very, very sorry statement about democracy."
Albert: "But I don't actually agree with one party any more than the other. All it comes down to at the moment is who will manage the economy most effectively, and for that you have to say whose statistic do I believe most."
Albert: "I know they're going to speak for me and I'm appalled about it. I choose to deny the validity of the process that returns them to power."
Albert: "It has to come down to the constitution and for that I would vote Lib Dem. But my father voted Labour, his father voted Labour, and his father too and I can't bring myself to vote Liberal."
Albert's verdict: "I haven't been persuaded. But these arguments have brought home to me that not voting isn't a decision to be taken lightly. It should be heartfelt. My great-grandfather fought in World War I for democracy but I think he would endorse my stance now."
14 May 01 | Vote2001
Persuade me to vote
17 May 01 | Vote2001
Persuade me to vote II
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