Every now and again, you come across something which reminds you that, for all our great progress in e-politics, we still can’t do some of the absolute basics.
Tomorrow there’s a by-election where I live: the Thatcham South and Crookham ward of Thatcham Town Council. It’s not a big deal, perhaps, but it’s another chance for democracy to get some exercise. I received my polling card, and I was interested to find out what I could do with it.
To their credit, the Lib Dems have made a serious (offline) effort. We’ve had a couple of badly DTP’ed newsletters, a quite convincing pseudo-handwritten letter from the outgoing councillor, and a couple of knocks on the door in the very recent past. Plus, they’ve picked a candidate who rejoices in the name Marvellous Ford. A name you won’t forget, although not ideal for search engine optimisation.
But that’s all we’ve received, from anyone. So, who else is standing? I genuinely haven’t been able to find out. Nothing on the award-winning local paper website, or on the BBC site, or (that I’ve seen) in the various freesheets we get through the door. Nothing on the local Tory party website: I’m not even sure they’re putting anyone up. (There’s nothing on the local LibDem site either, actually.) Nothing on the town council website, apart from a PDF telling me there’s going to be an election. Nothing on the local authority website, under whose auspices the election takes place. Nothing coming up on Google.
Tomorrow I’ll do my civic duty. I’ll make my way to the polling station, and cast my vote. I will be doing so in complete ignorance of the choice being offered to me. And that, folks, is a bad bad thing.