Next time don’t just pen­cil in your vote

Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Nuts & Bolts -

Never mind whether you voted LEAVE or RE­MAIN in the EU Ref­er­en­dum. The much more im­por­tant ques­tion is whether you used the PEN­CIL pro­vided at the polling sta­tion to put your X on the bal­lot pa­per or if you were a bit of a rebel and used your own PEN.

Tra­di­tion­ally, polling sta­tions have good old-fash­ioned pen­cils at each polling booth (usu­ally at­tached to a piece of string to pre­vent them be­ing pinched).

But ap­par­ently dur­ing the EU ref­er­en­dum some polling sta­tions – in­clud­ing, we un­der­stand, the Brook­field Road one in Ash­ford – were in­fil­trated with pen­cils bear­ing a pro Brexit ‘Vote Leave’ type mes­sage, which were swiftly re­moved.

There were also ridicu­lous mes­sages do­ing the rounds across the coun­try on Twit­ter and other so­cial me­dia that peo­ple shouldn’t make their pref­er­ence with a pen­cil as the X could be rubbed out, whereas a pen-writ­ten X could not.

We had two emails com­plain­ing about the use of pen­cils at Ash­ford polling sta­tions, but an an­cient mem­ber of the Nuts and Bolts team who has voted in many elec­tions in his long life said: “I’ve al­ways used the stumpy pen­cil, se­cured with a piece of string, when­ever and wher­ever I have voted. In a way it’s part of the quirky, charm­ing vot­ing sys­tem we have.

“I love the way you can turn up at a polling sta­tion, not nec­es­sar­ily even with your polling card, say who you are, with­out hav­ing to ac­tu­ally prove your iden­tity, and get given a vot­ing slip to vote.

“So per­haps peo­ple should be more wor­ried about the po­ten­tial vot­ing abuse in this than whether a pen­cil writ­ten cross could be rubbed out. Maybe it’s time we in­tro­duced an on­line vot­ing sys­tem, which would un­doubt­edly be more se­cure.”

We un­der­stand Ash­ford Bor­ough Coun­cil – in com­mon with ev­ery­where else – only pro­vides pen­cils at all its 82 polling sta­tions, but there is noth­ing to stop us mak­ing our mark with a pen if pre­ferred.

And you don’t even nec­es­sar­ily have to cast your vote with an X. You can mark the box with a tick in­stead. The im­por­tant thing is that your vot­ing in­ten­tion is clear.

So at the next elec­tion, why don’t we all be re­ally re­bel­lious and put a tick on the bal­lot pa­per, writ­ten with a PEN?

On sev­eral oc­ca­sions we’ve high­lighted the is­sue of Ash­ford’s dirty road signs.

One per­son who has long cam­paigned for them to be cleaned is keen cy­clist Ted Prangnell from Ken­ning­ton.

Ted sent us an­other ex­am­ple, this time of this grime-cov­ered sign in Can­ter­bury Road, Ken­ning­ton. As he points out, such signs do not give a very good im­pres­sion to vis­i­tors and ob­vi­ously aren’t eas­ily seen by cy­clists and mo­torists.

Last week the the Na­tional Po­lice Air Ser­vice tweeted an aerial im­age of a town cen­tre in Kent taken from its he­li­copter, invit­ing peo­ple to guess where it was. The Nuts and Bolts aerial pic­ture iden­ti­fi­ca­tion team were im­me­di­ately on the case, iden­ti­fy­ing the town as… ASH­FORD.

The give­away was prob­a­bly the dis­tinc­tive Ash­ford po­lice sta­tion build­ing. With ID skills like ours, per­haps we should be ap­ply­ing for a job with the boys, and girls, in blue.

How many times a month do you say to some­one “Where did I put that?”. Quite a lot, we’d sug­gest. And a new sur­vey proves the point as ap­par­ently the av­er­age per­son in the South East loses more than 2,700 items in their life­time – in­clud­ing 160 bits of cloth­ing and 69 um­brel­las, the re­search re­veals.

A na­tional study of 2,000 adults found we’ll also mis­place 344 pens across a life­time and on av­er­age lose four items a month.

Keys are the most com­monly lost item, fol­lowed by mo­bile phones, pens and glasses.

And the av­er­age per­son from our re­gion has to fork out £1,904 dur­ing their life­time to re­place items they have lost.

The re­search com­mis­sioned by My Nametags, a Bri­tish man­u­fac­turer of name tags, found it’s not just an adult trait, with chil­dren los­ing seven items a month – most com­monly school jumpers, school books, sta­tionery, their socks and toys.

For adults, head­phones, lip­stick and mem­ory sticks are also on the 20 most lost list.

Wor­ry­ingly, the re­sults also show that one in four peo­ple have even tem­po­rar­ily lost a car!

Pen­cils are pro­vided for vot­ers – but we don’t have to use them; cen­tre, Ted Prangnell’s pho­to­graph of a dirty road sign; right, the aerial pic­ture from the Na­tional Po­lice Air Ser­vice he­li­copter was not that hard to iden­tify for our crack unit of spot­ters

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