AS an 18-year-old first-time voter I took a closer interest than normal in the local North Lanarkshire council election results.

I was astounded at the figures given:

n Only 93,104 valid votes cast;

n Only 37.72 of the electorate voted.

North Lanarkshire has, according to 2010 Key Facts 326,320 of a population, 22% of whom are under 18. Of the 78 % left that would mean there were more than 254,000 potential voters. If these figures are correct then more than 160,000 did not turn out on Thursday to vote.

We, as young people, are constantly bombarded in the media that we have a "civic responsibility" and a " moral obligation" to get involved in local politics and our communities when it has been clearly shown that those same adults who chastise us in cannot live up to their own so called standards.

Why should we care when they obviously don't?

Rachel Scott,

132 North Kilmeny Crescent, Coltness, Wishaw.

I NOTE with interest your report ("'Deluge of spoiled papers and low turnout fail to materialise"). I am left wondering exactly what is regarded by some as a low turnout. It has been reported that turnout is expected to have been nearer to 40% than 30% and that is somehow to be regarded as fairly satisfactory.

Was it ennui, apathy, indifference or torpor which lay behind the lack of engagement by the majority of the electorate? It is clear that voter turnout over the last 40 years in the established democracies, including the UK, has been decreasing at a steady rate. Various measures have been mooted in the past to halt this trend and perhaps to reverse it, such as:

n Moving the election day to a Saturday or a Sunday;

n Improving the levels of citizenship education in our schools;

n Making voting compulsory as they do in Australia, where participation can reach 95%:

n Making the process easier to carry out by extending the facilities to vote by post or via the internet; or

n Introducing rules which render an election void if too few people vote.

It is a matter of concern that the majority of those with the right to vote in this country often fail to exercise it. That right for most sections of our community did not come about with ease; it had to be fought for with tenacity and resilience by many committed men and women. Increasing detachment by the electorate from the voting system is not just a major challenge in front of our political parties. It is also an issue to be addressed by all who believe in maintaining the vigour of our democracy.

How far does the turnout have to fall before the legitimacy of our political institutions comes into question? There are potential dangers ahead and it would be prudent to circumvent them by adjusting our current downward course with a view to at least encouraging (if not obliging) the non-participants to make the comparatively modest effort to put numbers or crosses on a ballot paper as appropriate.

Ian W Thomson,

38 Kirkintilloch Road,


I AM mystified as to why Chris Parton cites visitors from abroad and children, when replying to my point that people on the Register of Voters who don't use their vote shouldn't complain about the outcome (Letters, May 5). Mr Parton was badly advised if he was told to write "damn the lot of you" on ballot slips (I've seen a lot worse). When they are produced at the counting of the votes, a collective sigh can be heard. Deliberately-spoiled ballot papers are a waste of time and opportunity which impress nobody.

However, the low turnout of voters last Thursday should give us pause to think and give serious consideration to how to encourage more people to vote.

I was a polling agent at two locations last week where many electors who had voted in the same place for years found that changes had been made which resulted in them having to vote at different polling places, which caused inconvenience and annoyance. In one instance it seemed especially ridiculous that people living opposite the hall that was being used for polling purposes had to travel beyond walking distance to vote. Putting obstacles in people's way will hardly serve as an encouragement to them to cast their vote.

As almost everything else in life can be done online, perhaps the use of modern technology could be an additional way of voting, but without doing away with the traditional method. Voting apathy is getting worse, and the causes and possible solutions need to be addressed by everyone who cares about the principles of democracy.

Ruth Marr,

99 Grampian Road,


HAZEL-ANNE Steel (Letters, May 5) points out that the recent council elections were a rather low-key affair in terms of street publicity and canvassing. While I agree that canvassing could have been more enthusiastic, I welcome the almost total lack of posters attached to lampposts and the like. These used to remain in position for many weeks after elections and were rarely removed by the parties concerned.

Anyone with the remotest interest in elections is well catered for by the media and I think that voter apathy is the main problem rather than any lack of street publicity.

Dave Stewart,

129 Novar Drive,


COMPLAINTS about inactivity during the council election have some justification. The reason that there were virtually no posters on the streets was because of an agreement between the big parties and Glasgow City Council to make them illegal. Having stood as a UKIP candidate I sympathise with the complaint that parties should not leave it to the media – the BBC, funded by the taxpayer and having a legal duty to be "balanced" notoriously give 40 times more coverage per vote to the Greens than to ourselves.

However, when a writer complains that the parties do not send out enough people delivering leaflets or canvassing the answer is obvious. Politics should not be a spectator sport. It used to be that the main parties had memberships in the hundreds of thousands. Now all the main parties' activists combined in Glasgow will be in the high hundreds.

Most of this is the parties' fault. The days when party conferences or individual members had any influence on most of them is long gone.

If you want a functioning democracy, deliver some of the leaflets – don't just bemoan the fact that they aren't being delivered. Work for whatever party most closely reflects your beliefs. Or do we want to reach the position where the only activists are those with comfortable jobs in quangos or as environmental lobbyists?

Neil Craig,

200 Woodlands Road,


AMIDST the uniformly depressing voting percentages at the local government elections it was interesting to note that the two highest turnouts, and the only authorities in which more than half the electorate bothered to vote, were in two of the island groups, namely Western Isles and Shetland. The third island council, Orkney, was sixth highest. Is there perhaps a connection with the fact that 64 of the 74 councillors elected in these areas were Independents and therefore not controlled by any of the national parties?

Ken Nicholson,

3 Letham Court, Glasgow.