I love voting. I love what it means, that every person has a say in our future, and I love the act of doing it-stepping into the booth, pressing my pencil down on paper to literally make my mark. And while the politics may get dirtier and more cynical, I find voting an incredibly clean and hopeful act.
With that in mind, I’ve collected some of my favourite voting and election stories here, a reminder that even when it doesn’t seem that way, your vote truly matters.
The Guy Who Came Back From the Dead to Vote
In Detroit Michigan in 2012, an elderly couple were voting when the husband collapsed on the floor. A bystander checked his vitals, reported there was no heartbeat and administered CPR. It took a few minutes to get the guy breathing again, but he eventually opened his eyes. His first question on coming back to life was, “Did I vote?” He also took the time to tell his wife that he came back to tell her he loved her as well as be part of democracy in action. What a charmer.
Voting in Space
Seriously though, I don’t ever want to hear anyone say they had too much on their plates to find the time to vote. As of 1997, thanks to a Texan bill, astronauts can now vote from space! From the International Space Station, your voting ballot is beamed up directly to you, and then securely sent to the voting authorities. David Wolf was the first American to take advantage of this ultimate absentee ballot, the same year as the bill passed.
The Proof that Every Vote Matters
I’ve heard people say that their votes don’t matter enough to be worth the effort. That one person can’t change the outcome. Tell that to Liberal politician Harold St Maur, who lost out on a House of Commons seat to Conservative Henry Duke in the 1910 election by one vote. 4776 to 4777. In Nevada, they handle ties with a very courtly drawing of cards, (yep, I mean Ace is high) and in both 2002 and 2011, this process was needed to decide on an election where the results were split.
The First Female Voter
The first American woman on record voting was Lydia Taft, who voted as a proxy for her husband in 1756 at a town meeting in Massechusets. While this was a baby step on the road towards suffrage, I have to say I have a soft spot for a different early woman voter, right here in the UK.
Seven years before women were given the vote, in 1911 Frances was sent a polling card-when organisers mistakingly thought she was a man by the name of Francis. While many women would have dismissed the mistake, Frances showed up on voting day, polling card in hand and demanded her vote. After much discussion (presumably about whether her tiny female hands could manage the pencil grip) the officials in chrage conceded that the rules only stated two things, that the person voting needed a polling card and a name on the electoral register.
There are countries like Brunei where there are no elections held whatsoever.
There are countries like the UAE where out of 9,000,000 people, only 100,000 are eligible to vote.
There are countries like South Sudan, who has 8,000,000 citizens and has never had an election.
There are countries like Saudi Arabia where women are denied the right to vote.
There are countries like the Maldives, where muslims are denied the right to vote.
There are countries like Eritrea, where there were elections up until 1991, and then the right to vote was taken away.
Or, there are countries like ours. The UK, where although you might not always like your choices, , the right to choose, or to let the government know that you won’t choose by spoiling your ballot, is protected by law. Unlike over 80 million people around the world-you can go and vote right now this minute. So what’s stopping you?