Tuesday, 13 April 2010

The Floating Vote

With the upcoming General Election, I have been looking into registering to vote as a residential boater in Cambridge.

I called the City Council and was bounced around various departments (who all started trying to help be asking 'Can you give me your address?' and were stumped when I couldn't answer) until I found someone who seemed to know what we are talking about. Apparently, in order to register to vote, we have to fill in the standard form, but instead of an address, we have to place a cross on a map, showing which ward we area moored in. This is of course, entirely arbitrary, because we are entitled to moor anywhere along the designated stretch of river, and could be in Market Ward, Abbey Ward, or Arbury Ward, depending on where we decide to bang in our mooring pins... but at least they have a system which doesn't entail having to declare yourself homeless. For those living in marinas with a residential address, it is no problem, but plenty of residential boaters don't have addresses. Continuous cruisers struggle even more, and unless they still own property and can apply for a postal vote, have to declare a 'local connection'. This is exactly what a homeless person would have to do in order to vote in the area they found themselves in when the came to vote. Understandably, plenty of people don't want to use this method, and feel disenfranchised by the system.

As for who will get our votes, so far only the Lib Dems have made the effort to flyer our boat with their manifesto. So that's a point in their favour already!

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