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5 reasons why you should head to the polls

With the looming local elections, the Conservatives are facing one of their toughest weeks in over a decade. In 2024, we have NHS waiting lists skyrocketing, soaring rent prices, and the ‘cozzy livs’ squeezing everyone's pockets, many are hopeful for change. As this week unfolds, and we await the next general election, our votes count more than they probably have before.


Despite the inundation of reminders to vote from Spotify ads to TV adverts and letterbox leaflets, some may not perceive the urgency to cast their vote. 


But how does voting truly impact our everyday lives?

  

Once upon a time, the political needs of women, people of colour, individuals with disabilities, and the LGBTQIA+ community were sidelined in the voting system. So, despite all the political madness the UK has experienced in recent years, we can still be grateful for having the right to vote as part of our democracy – no matter how cynical it may feel.


A lot of communities – especially where identities intersect — still struggle to be seen and heard, and it remains crucial to recognize that we all possess the power to exercise our agency. Here are five pivotal moments in history when votes truly mattered:


  1. The Emancipation Proclamation and Reflection of Abraham Lincoln (1863):


Abraham Lincoln's reelection in 1864 marked a pivotal moment in American history. His issuance of the Emancipation Proclamation during the Civil War declared enslaved individuals in Confederate states “forever free” as of January 1, 1863, laying the groundwork for the abolition of slavery.


2. Passage of the Civil Rights Act (1964) and Voting Rights Act (1965) in the United States:


African Americans' voting rights were secured, advancing civil rights and political representation after years of systemic discrimination and efforts by activists like Martin Luther King Jr. and the Civil Rights Movement.


3. End of Apartheid in South Africa (1994):


The first multiracial democratic elections led to Nelson Mandela's election, marking the end of apartheid and the start of a democratic era following decades of racial segregation and international pressure for change.


4. The Suffragette Movement and Representation of the People Act (early 20th century):

The Suffragettes, advocating for women's suffrage through militant tactics, contributed to the passing of the Representation of the People Act in the United Kingdom (1918), which initially granted women over 30 the right to vote. This was later equalized with men by the Equal Franchise Act in 1928.


5. Brexit Referendum (2016):


The UK's referendum resulted in a vote to leave the EU, triggering significant political, economic, and social consequences, reshaping the UK's relationship with Europe and its global position. The UK officially left the EU in January 2020.


Reflecting on these historic milestones, a common theme emerges – voting matters. Whether it's from participating in marches, and demonstrations, or exercising our right to vote, ordinary people have reshaped the trajectory of their lives through small actions. Heading to the local ballot on Thursday won't miraculously raise wages, lower house prices, or curb crime. 


However, it's undeniably a way to amplify our voices during these crucial times. With Rishi Sunak not ruling out the possibility of a general election in the second half of this year, could we be on the cusp of another historic milestone?



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