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Politics: Making your voice heard is crucial in elections

By David Porter

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It is a cliché often said to encourage people to make their voices heard in local elections.

And that is, ‘you get what you vote for’ or, in many cases’ what you don’t vote for too.

MSP Gillian Martin
MSP Gillian Martin

The local council elections are coming up next month and it’s unlikely you’ll have been able to escape a knock on the door from candidates and activists from across the political spectrum or not had a leaflet through your door.

Council elections matter to all of us – from local investment in fixing those pot holes to making sure bins are collected on time – there’s unlikely to be anything in your immediate life and vicinity that is not influenced by decisions made at council level.

Yet despite this, and the fact so many of us will likely discuss issues which are impacted by local government, voter turnout is much lower at council level than in parliamentary elections.

Voter turnout did increase in Aberdeenshire from 37.3 per cent to 46.4 per cent in 2017 – a change of 9.1.

While this increase is positive, it is still much below the national average for turnout in elections such as the one for the Scottish Parliament.

The 2021 election saw voter turnout reach its highest ever at 63.5 per cent nationally to the Scottish Parliament.

While this is also to be applauded we must continue to look at how we can boost these numbers even further.

The margin between voter turnout in the local and national elections is still significant but all elections matter.

Please get out and vote if you are registered to do so.

Decisions are made by those who show up and turning up to vote for candidates is the way to influence the change you wish to see at a local level.

Councillors work incredibly hard for their constituents, working long and often unsociable hours to get the job done.

They do this without any staff to help them and many have done the role – particularly over the last two years – all the while working in other roles and with childcare or other caring responsibilities. They do so because they are passionate and committed to making a difference to local democracy.

The least we can do to give our thanks is to turn up and vote.

It is only by doing so that we get the representatives we want.

Earlier this month, Superintendent Murray Main announced he was going to be retiring after more than 30 years’ service.

I’ve worked alongside Murray since my election in 2016 and I have always found him to be diligent and committed to his role as a local police officer.

Murray has always been keen to keep MSPs informed on the issues that matter most to constituents and to address their concerns.

The connection between the local policing force and the wider community is paramount and Murray has been committed to ensuring it works.

I would like to thank Murray for his hard work and dedication to the police force and wish him well in his retirement.

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