Shake-up of our voting system is needed

I have (with many more citizens) always considered our voting system outdated and as such it needs a radical change on how, when and where we vote.

The present system of using schools as polling stations, which in effect closes the school for the full day, is now beaching current laws on penalising parents who wish to take their child away on holidays during school term.

There is now a movement by parents to insist that when schools close down for any reason, the school should compensate the parents for finding alternative accommodation for their children.

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Examples are parents having to stay off work, get other adults to look after them, or find any other organisation that may be able to run out-of-school activities on the day the school is closed.

All of these disrupt the child and parents’ life and should at all cost be minimised.

Also, one must consider the use of a weekday for polling, bearing in mind there are very low voting figures on any local elections, one has to look at the reasons for this.

Clitheroe and its major villages’ citizens have always been an out-of-the-area workforce, relying on work outside the boundaries of the Ribble Valley.

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This out-of-the-area working commitment has always meant early morning starts and early evening returns, thus restricting the ability and desire to go out and vote.

Bearing in mind all the above, I have enclosed below some strong suggestions that need attention.

These are my recommendations on the way we vote here in the Ribble Valley:

1. The use of public places such as schools and voting during weekdays must stop. The old system must be replaced by a simple logical new system of having the voting days and times on a Saturday. The counting of the vote then can be done at a sensible time on a Sunday (taking into consideration Church services) and can be done at any school that was used as a polling station.

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2. The counting of votes. There could even be a new system of counting, which could actually take place on the polling day at the venue of the polling booths. Bearing in mind the chaotic situation at the last local election where counting of the votes took over nine hours, which was finally finished at 7am on a Friday. If we introduce a system where two officials are present to count the votes on an hourly period at the polling stations, these can be put into respective boxes of candidates and recounted on the Sunday, saving time on that day.

3. By changing the day from the present Thursday to the more acceptable Saturday will stop the absence of children from school classes and ensure the voters of this region have a much fairer system where they can be available to vote at a more agreeable time of their choosing.

Ron Loebell,

Edisford Road, Clitheroe

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