Vote, and you too can be a ninja with a pencil

Ballot Box with Thumbs Up

Ballot Box with Thumbs Up - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

This may come as a shock, but it's the General Election on Thursday – slap bang in the middle of Severe Weather Awareness Week and just one day after Flexible Working Awareness Day, which is terrible planning.

I'm going to miss the deluge of mail begging me to vote for a various shade of the political rainbow – especially as so much of it is personalised: I can never find my name on a keyring or a mug, so it's nice to have some leaflets from the Labour Party that I can tape to an ordinary mug (or keyring) to make my own Eustacia merchandise.

Now let's be frank: you are all clever people so I don't need to spam your Facebook pages with pictures of suffragettes or bang on about how you don't have the right to an opinion if you don't vote (you do – not voting is a political act in itself) but when it comes to my good self, I wouldn't even consider not voting.

I think it's the fact I get five minutes to myself in that quiet partitioned shed structure in my local church hall and that it's actually illegal for anyone to bother me by asking me to sign their school planner or give them lunch money.

I don't believe you should hassle people about who they're voting for or whether or not they're actually voting – although I do argue with my Mum about it all the time, which is different because she's family and we can't talk about Poldark any more now that it's finished – but I do see voting as a very hopeful act.


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You hope that things will get better and that you can be part of that process – and that involves shifting yourself to the nearest church or village hall, school or wherever the ballot box is and putting your cross in the box.

And if you're not voting, use the time you won't spend in the ballot box by making the most of Natural Skincare Awareness Day on Thursday and International Drum Month, which continues until May 31. And it goes without saying that we should all make the necessary arrangements for Saturday: Lost Sock Memorial Day.

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In the meantime, I've made a voting list. This is as close as I get to election coverage: on Thursday evening I'll be at the launch of Norfolk Food and Drink, eating canapés and sipping Champagne. Which absolutely isn't a clue to the direction in which I'll be voting.

10 things I Love About Voting Or Which Would Make Voting More Fun:

1) Snack bars outside polling stations: I always vote early in the morning and it would be nice if there were some croissants or perhaps a hot chocolate available for me to purchase. There could be themed snacks on offer such as an awkward bacon roll (Ed Miliband), a fictitious Cornish pasty (David Cameron) or a marginally less awkward bacon roll (Nick Clegg). How about Green Tea (Natalie Bennett)? I'll stop now.

2) What I like best about voting is the secrecy: When was the last time you did something that was properly secret? I mean yes, you can tell people how you voted, but you COULD BE LYING! No one will ever know! You are like a ninja in all ways other than most ways. A ninja with a voting slip and a pencil.

3) In Nevada, not only can you vote for the candidate that you like, you can also vote against the candidate that you really hate. In some cases, this means that candidates actually poll more 'negative' votes than actual votes – meaning they politically melt away, like the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz, only not so spectacularly and not in technicolour. The only problem associated with voting against candidates is that deciding who you don't like is far easier than deciding who you do like. There would be too much choice.

4) How much happier would we all be if the General Election was also a Bank Holiday? By which I mean two bank holidays in one week, not swapping May 4 for May 7, which would be rubbish. This would not only stop people using the 'I was too busy at work' excuse not to vote, it would also mean that people would associate politicians with being fun-bringers rather than joy sponges. By suggesting this I am being properly altruistic: I am a journalist: we don't have holidays because you lot are too busy making news.

5) Voting takes 10 minutes away from your busy schedule just so that you take a stand for the place where you live and the people that you love. On a Karmic level, this probably means you can avoid a job that takes 10 minutes at another point in your week and feel justified about it. I won't do the ironing this week – I never do the ironing, but on this occasion I will be not-ironing in the name of democracy.

6) Children get a sticker if they go to the dentist, even if they scream throughout the whole appointment and have teeth blacker than the black hole of Calcutta at midnight. Voters should get stickers. It would make them feel special and possibly encourage them to also brush their teeth more.

7) Loyalty stamps at polling stations: Every time you visit for local and general elections, you collect a stamp. If you collect 10 stamps, you get to go to Disneyland Paris and have the VIP fast passes. This would definitely address voter apathy. Those that didn't wish to travel to Paris could swap their prize for a toaster or a steam iron.

8) Voting forms double as lottery tickets: I mean in real terms, the whole election is a bit of a lottery. But I mean an actual lottery, one in which you win actual cash. Or maybe cuddly toys. Or a car. Postage stamps. Something.

9) Put a polling station in an IKEA: this involves building an IKEA in Norfolk, but if the Government is serious about encouraging people to engage with the parliamentary process, big decisions need to be made. It can go where County Hall is. No one would notice.

10) Cold hard cash: I'm not talking much, maybe a bag of 2p pieces for the slot machines at Sea Palling if you turn up to vote before 8.30am. Or a WHSmiths voucher for £2.50 if you're first through the door.

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