Elections – what do I do?

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Today is the day for residents of Southampton to vote who they would like to represent their local area, as well as being able to declare whether or not they would like the Alternative Voting system (AV) to replace the current voting system for UK Parliamentary elections.

You have until 10 PM to vote at nearly one hundred polling stations across Southampton.

You should have received in the post over the last few weeks, a poll card registered specifically to you. This will tell you where your nearest polling station is, with a map. You do not need to take the card with you to the polling station: just give your name and address to a member of staff when you get there and they will issue you with ballot papers.

For those who haven’t voted before, it is a very simple process. You take your ballot papers to a booth in the polling station and mark your choices with an ‘X’. There are always very clear an instruction on the ballot papers, but if you are still unsure, a member of staff will be on hand to help you.

Results should be issued the next day. The counting of votes takes place overnight tomorrow, and although results for local elections will most likely be issued more quickly, it shouldn’t take too long for the outcome of the national referendum votes.

So what are we voting for? The local elections are to decide on who should be allowed to make decisions on matters affecting the City. Southampton is divided into 16 wards, with three councillors representing each one. One seat per ward will be up for re-election tomorrow and it is up to voters to decide who should be elected to the ward in their area. For more information go to www.aboutmyvote.co.uk.

The National Referendum on the Alternative Vote may change the way we vote nationally in this country. Currently we operate on a ‘first past the post’ way of voting, with the person who has the most votes being elected. Those in favour of keeping this set up argue that it is simpler, fairer and that any changes would be costly to us.

The new, proposed way of voting, the Alternative Vote, means that instead of choosing one candidate when voting, we number the candidates in order of preference, as we do with our own union elections. Those in favour of this new system argue that even if our first choice candidate does not become elected, we can still have a say in who does based on our preferences.

Both are very strong campaigns and it is likely to be a close race. Southampton’s television society (SUSUTV) has created a video for the ‘Yes to AV’ campaign and there are videos from the ‘No to AV’ campaign also on youtube and the official website (www. no2av.org ).

For most private-housing students in Portswood, the main polling stations are St. Andrews Church on the Avenue or Bevois Town Primary School on Cedar Road.

Details of polling stations for the main University Halls of Residence are:

Glen Eyre – St Michael’s and All Angel’s Church Hall, Basset Avenue SO16 7FD

Hartley Grove – Cantell Maths College, Conference Room, Violet Road, SO16 3GJ

Orion’s Point – Edmund Kell Unitarian Church, Bellevue Road SO15 2AH

Wessex Lane – South Stoneham Church Hall, St Mary’s Church Close, SO18 2ST

Highfield Hall – Highfield Church Centre, Highfield Lane,  SO15 7PL

Gateley Hall – Banister School, Archers Road, SO15 2LX

Information on any other halls of residence can be found on the Southampton City Council website (www.southampton.gov.uk), or on your polling card.

So please go along and vote today. It is very important that everyone’s voice is heard and it only takes a few minutes, but the decisions our country makes will have an effect on its future and we are part of that.

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