The turnout figures for the UK (especially in European and local elections) continue in an ever increasing downward spiral. Reports that the election on June 4 only managed to excite 34.5% or 15,625,823 means that 4% fewer people chose to vote this time around. Over the space of the previous three general elections turnout has fallen by 10% whereby now the election only garners interest from 6 out 10 people. How then do we ensure that voters re-engage with politics, how do make sure that the incentive to vote matters?
The Electoral Commission states that, "unless voters feel that the election is relevant to them and that their vote matters, they are unlikely to participate." The figures for the next General Election could take a significant hit as we have such a lame duck Prime Minister and government at the moment. On the one hand many voters will believe the Tories to be a shoe-in and on the other Labour supporters could turn their backs on their chosen party. There are two ways to address the declining turnout in voters: the first is by making it compulsory (exceedingly illiberal and ensuring around 90% vote) the second is by allowing people to sell their vote.
Much is made of those who abstain, (in a way this is the same as voting) they evaluated the candidates and decided they were unrepresented and now their vote goes to waste. But what if the market stepped in and allowed others to purchase that vote. In a European Election with low turnout prices would be low as there would be many people selling their votes. In a general election on the other hand prices would increase, especially if the buyer lived in a constituency with a narrow majority. Even more so if the person attempting to purchase the vote was from a party that the seller wasn't likely to support. Obviously some constituencies could end up with more votes than voters, but obversely when a minority of a minority elect an official we cite that it's democracy at work. Perhaps rather than attempting to stuff the ballot box Gordon Brown, via PR he could return democracy to us and allow us the freedom to cast our votes to whom pays us the most. (Not unlike the current system, just a fairer and surer way of obtaining the cash).