If you caught the faint whiff of smoke on Monday evening, it could have been from the phone lines and Wi-Fi signals that were burning up as members of the public scrambled to beat the deadline to register to vote.
In total, a record half a million people registered to vote in the final hours before Monday’s midnight deadline. Admittedly, many tens of thousands of others missed the boat. But the size of the response was not only a vindication of the money spent on an ad campaign to encourage voter registration. It was also a welcome demonstration of the public’s appreciation of the importance of this election – contrary to the views of comic turned activist Russell Brand, who has labelled the election irrelevant.
Despite turnouts for local and European elections being little short of miserable, Britons aren’t awful when it comes to voting in general elections. Official figures show that in 2010 the turnout was 65.1 percent. Even the lowest turnout of recent times – the 2001 election (when a Labour victory was all but certain) – was still 59.4 percent.
The number of registrations to vote on Monday suggests that we will hopefully be on the way to similar turnout levels come 7 May. They will be sorely needed in such a closely contested election – one that throws up all manner of permutations as to which parties might be included in the next government. Admittedly Mr Brand’s comments – along with his suggestion last year that people shouldn’t bother to vote – were not a promotion of apathy. But with British politics being more fragmented than at any point in living memory, it’s a welcome sign that a majority of voters will determine which party or parties at least have the right to discuss forming a government.
For information on the policies of the main political parties, please visit www.de-mob.co.uk.