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Home | 2016 | June

Ignorant? Uninformed? Thick?

Posted by Thersites on UTC 2016-06-06 09:02. Updated on UTC 2016-06-09

The Electoral Commission strikes again.

Research conducted by the Electoral Commission shows that, before the Commission launched its public awareness campaign:

  • 1 in 3 (36%) eligible voters in the UK were not aware that the EU Referendum is taking place at all.
  • Only 25% of voters in the UK were able to spontaneously identify 23 June as the date of the referendum.
  • 1 in 4 (26%) UK voters did not know they need to be registered to be able to take part in the referendum.

We can therefore conclude, this time in normal language:

  • That 36% of 'eligible voters' are completely detached from the political process in the UK. They have no idea that even an event of the importance of the EU Referendum is about to take place. They are therefore completely ignorant of British politics.
  • The 25% of 'voters in the UK' who could not name the date of the referendum can only be described as uninformed. We can assume that this number must be in addition to the 36% ignorant, meaning that 61% of potential voters are either ignorant or uniformed about politics in the UK.
  • The 26% of 'UK voters' who did not know they needed to be registered in order to vote can only be described as thick. They will probably be part of the 61% of ignorant or uninformed potential voters, but could also be among the other 39%.

We are told that, since the launch of the Electoral Commission’s public awareness campaign on 15 May, over 1.35 million people have applied to register to vote online across Great Britain so far.

Why is the Electoral Commission expensively campaigning to encourage ignorant, uninformed thickos to have a say in this important referendum? Why are we actively soliciting the opinions of 1.35 million know-nothings?

The task of the Electoral Commission is to facilitate registration, not encourage it.

Whisper it softly: enfranchisement is not just about age and nationality, it's also about political engagement, normally visible in the large number of potential electors – even people on the electoral register – who do not turn out to vote. Disturbing their ignorant sleep is fundamentally undemocratic.

As we have already pointed out on this blog, in a close-run referendum, turnout is everything. Surely the Electoral Commission is not seeking to influence the result?

Update 08.06.2016

The circle of our electoral Hell reserved for the Ignorant, the Uniformed and the Thick requires another category of resident: the Tardy Insomniacs.

This category contains people from the other three who lead such busy lives that, when they do get round to applying to be put on the Electoral Register, they can only manage to start the process an hour or two before the midnight deadline.

The wailing and gnashing of teeth you can hear in this circle is emanating from those who were frustrated in their registration attempt by an hour-long website outage from 10 pm, two hours before the deadline.

Now, to appease the Tardy Insomniacs who didn't manage to register, there are calls to put back the deadline. Since a deadline delay of one hour to compensate for this outage is utterly impractical, there would have to be a well publicised extension to the registration period of several days. If this is granted the circles of electoral Hell will be filled with even more of the Ignorant, the Uniformed, the Thick and the Tardy Insomniacs.

Do we really want to know their opinion on Britain's continued membership of the European Union?

Voting and other difficult stuff

Getting on your name on the Electoral Register using a smartphone is one thing, but it will be interesting to see how many of these fresh citizens of the new polis will survive the hurdle race that is ahead of them:

  • EITHER: Get out of bed on 23 June, locate a polling station and turn up there in person during opening hours on the day. You will need to remember your name and address (particularly if this is different from your real name and address). You will have to choose between two options using a writing instrument.
  • OR: Obtain the form for registration of postal voters, fill it in (remembering your name and address etc.), sign it, fold it, put it in an envelope, find out and write address of your local electoral registration office on the envelope, buy postage stamp and affix to envelope, put in letterbox so that it arrives before before 5pm on Wednesday 8 June (today).
  • OR: Find some dope who will turn up on the day and vote in your stead. This will involve more form filling and posting (ditto, ditto) but you have until 5pm on Wednesday 15 June to do that. If you live in a house with, say, 23 'close relatives', this is the option to go for.

Update 08.06.2016

The Government really is going to push through secondary legislation to extend the deadline for registration until midnight on 9 June. Bernard Jenkin MP, chair of the Commons Public Administration Committee commented:

It is probably legal to keep the site open for a short period, a few hours. But any idea of rewriting the rules in a substantial way would be complete madness and make this country look like an absolute shambles.

Update 09.06.2016

The UK Government extended the deadline for registering for the Electoral Register in time to vote in the EU Referendum, but seems to have failed to extend the deadline for applying for a postal vote. We are told that

The deadline to apply for a postal vote for the EU Referendum has now passed.

The Tardy Insomniacs will have to get themselves out of bed and appear personally at the polling station. Let's see how that works. Oh, and how long it takes the powers-that-be to notice this anomaly.