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Thursday, May 30, 2024

London Mayor elections – all you need to know, and don’t forget to vote!

The elections for London Mayor are fast approaching, and the stakes are high for the future of the people of our capital.

The election is set to take place on Thursday 2 May, and it is vital to know that for the first-time voters will have to bring ID with them to be able to vote.

All the main parties are fielding their candidates, Conservative, Labour, the Green Party and Reform UK. Also hoping for the title of London Mayor are a range of independent voters, from financial gurus, gym owners and even the legend that is Count Binface.

However, there are several things’ voters must be aware of:

TO do:

  • You must be registered to vote! If you are on the electoral register, then you can participate.
  • Bring ID. This is a new measure for voting, but you will not be able to vote unless you have it.

– Accepted forms of ID are passports, driving licenses, Older or Disabled Person’s bus passes, and Oyster 60+ cards. If you have none of these, go to the, ‘London Elects’ Website, www.londonelects.org.uk/election/information,  for more options.

  • Be aware of your local polling station, and opening times. The usual opening times are from 7 am to 10 pm but can vary. If you are unsure, go to: www.electorialcommission.org.uk
  • Make sure to carefully read and follow the instructions on the ballot paper. It may sound obvious, but it is important to make sure your vote is valid.

There are also some things NOT to do:

  • You must not try to campaign or influence the voting of other people in the voting station. This includes wearing political insignia, for example a shirt or button with a political slogan.
  • Respect the process. Do not disrupt in any way the voting taking place or the work of officials at the polling station.
  • Respect others, and do not ask at the polling station who people have voted for. It’s a private matter.
  • Don’t take photos. This might discourage voters from turning up.

Also worth knowing is that the voting system has been changed to a first past the post system, meaning that you can only choose to vote for one candidate, and that the candidate with the most votes will win.

Alongside this it is important to note that voters will also be able to vote for the London Assembly on the day. One vote is for a local assembly member to represent their constituency, and the other for a London – wide assembly member.

So why is it so important to vote – particularly at a time when many people, especially in London, feel disillusioned with politics, and do not identify strongly with any of the politicians available?

Trends in previous London Mayor elections have reflected this sense of disillusionment with politics and officials. In the 2021 London Mayor Election, voter turnout was 40.9% – meaning that less than half of Londoners actually turned up to vote. Another trend is from the previous elections in 2016 London Mayor elections the turnout was 45.2% meaning that voting has dropped by over 4%.

Given that London has an estimated population of 9,748,033, this means that  in 2021 there has been a drop in voting of nearly 400,000 people, and that 5,716,087 people didn’t vote at all.

So why should Londoners vote?

The answer lies in the issues facing London, and the need for urgent action on the big issues. Crime in London is spiralling out of control, from a shoplifting epidemic where store staff say they are too frightened to confront shoplifters, to knife crime claiming the lives of youths in London on an almost weekly basis.

There are also issues such as the Ultra Low Emissions Zone, or ULEZ. Labour candidate Sadiq Khan sees it as essential for clean air in the capital, but at the same time Reform UK see it as an unnecessary cash grab and not only plan to abolish it but to give refund the money taken from London motorists.

Housing is also in crisis, hitting many in the South Asian community that live in multi-generational households particularly hard – signifying that change is needed.

Finally, it is important to consider the option of voting for independent candidates – who have been on the rise in recent times. If you feel disillusionment with the main parties, it might be worth a look at these, who often have very different policies from the mainstream big parties.

The big reason however that people should vote is that if you want change in the capital, it is a must to put forward your vote on the politicians that are offering to make a change.

A vote wasted is a chance to make London a better, more prosperous, greener and safer place to live wasted. If Londoners do nothing, then nothing will change.

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