On National Voter Registration Day (February 5), Birmingham City Council Chief Executive Mark Rogers reflects on why it has never been more important to use your vote – including making sure you are registered to do so in the first place.
With both the general and local elections now just a matter of months away, some people may find themselves asking: â€œWhy should I vote? Whatâ€™s the point?â€
While millions of people think nothing of picking up the phone each week to vote for their favourite contestants on television talent shows, it seems many of us are not quite as enthusiastic when it comes to voting for someone who could have a real impact on our lives and play a key role in shaping our future.
We are extremely fortunate to live in a democracy where we have the right to vote for the candidate of our choice in free and fair elections. Politicians are accountable to the people who elect them â€“ our votes can put them into power and, equally, they can also remove them.
People have even given their lives so that you and I can have our say in who runs the country and our local councils â€“ a right that many countries still deny their citizens today. Even in Britain, women had to fight for the right to vote and this battle wasnâ€™t won until well into the 20th century.
Your right to vote is something that shouldnâ€™t be taken for granted. Without a vote, you donâ€™t have a voice. Itâ€™s easy to think that one vote wonâ€™t make any difference, but this simply isnâ€™t the case. Every vote counts â€“ and, besides, if everyone decided it wasnâ€™t worth voting then we would never see change.
If you are not yet registered to vote then it is not too late. You can register online here. As you may be aware, a new system came into place in June last year, where each person in a household is responsible for their own registration, so donâ€™t assume someone else will do it for you.
Itâ€™s YOUR vote â€“ register it; use it; donâ€™t lose it.