New Internationalist

How to vote responsibly

For a lot of British voters their choices in the upcoming national elections aren't very appealing - and this country lacks the option of spoiling your ballot and having it count (which is a considerable gap in the democratic process here). But if disillusioned Brits still want to vote responsibly they can choose to not have to decide at all - by donating their vote.

Give Your Vote, a new online campaign, pairs British voters with citizens in Bangladesh, Afghanistan and Ghana - three countries particularly affected by Government policies in the UK. Bangladesh, a low-lying coastal nation, will be severely affected by climate change as sea levels rise - most of the small country could end up underwater. Already the shoreline is shifting and small islands are vanishing. In Ghana, heavily subsidized and thus unfairly priced British exports are forcing small-scale farmers out of business. And for Afghanistan British military policy is truly a matter of life and death. 

In those countries the mirror campaign, Use A UK Vote, will also give people the chance to ask questions of British parliamentary candidates via constituents in the UK. 

'It is a crazy idea - but that's because the reality of democracy in a globalized world today demands it,' says May Abdalla, co-founder of the campaign.  

Archbishop Desmond Tutu has endorsed the campaign. '[This is] exciting, brave and emphasizes our common humanity,' his endorsement reads. '[In apartheid South Africa] we didn't fight for hand-outs - we fought for an equal voice and for the power to make our own choices. And we are now facing a global apartheid in which the richest dominate global decision-making, often to the detriment of the poorest... We need to rethink our politics for today's world.'

The recent climate negotiations in Copenhagen, says Abdalla, was a profound example of decisions of global importance being made 'by people representing the countries that would be the least affected'.

Do they think the campaign will have any effect on the outcome of the British elections?

'Of course not,' says Abdalla. 'But this is meant to shift people's perceptions of democracy over the next six weeks.'

'This isn't about who wins - it's about who votes.'

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About the author

Zoe Cormier a New Internationalist contributor

Zoe Cormier is a freelance journalist and science writer from Toronto, Canada and now based in London. She has been shortlisted for the Canadian National Magazine Awards twice. With a background in biology, she now specializes in covering environmental issues and is the resident ‘alternative science’ blogger for the NI. Her work has featured in Nature News, The Guardian, The Globe and Mail, and The Ecologist.

Read more by Zoe Cormier

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