In this close-run election, encouraging as many people as possible to vote on 5 May is essential for all parties. Candidates can now seek insight online at www.notapathetic.com. The site was launched by mySociety on 7 April, for people who are planning not to vote and who want to tell the world why. The concept is simple: a message and comment board which anyone may join.
MySociety is a small group of programmers, which has produced a number of sites aimed at making MPs more accessible, including Write To Them (www.writetothem.com) and They Work For You www.theyworkforyou.com). However, if that wasn't enough, it noticed that something else was required - a space for non-voters. The aim is not to persuade anyone that voting is a good or a bad idea, just to hear and share the explanations of non-voters.
The new site makes fascinating, if depressing, reading. Those who have taken the time to make posts are (as the domain name says) not apathetic, but they are fed up and angry and often feel powerless. Reasons for not voting range wildly. Many contributors have simply lost faith in the government. One person is even desperate enough to suggest that the Windsors might do things better, saying: "I am almost completely indifferent to the royal family, but I can't help but think they would be more responsible than the current governments available to us."Another contributor writes of the first-past-the-post system: "I would prefer proportional representation, which the Lib Dems advocate (or used to!). But they won't get my vote as I don't believe they can run a country. So I don't know who to vote for."
Yet not all those who engage on the site are planning not to vote. One respondent states: "By not voting you are simply letting people think that you do not care. Please, please vote!"
Though not scientifically representative, all these people have taken time to register their feelings about the state of democracy in the UK. Notapathetic.com should be mandatory reading for all candidates standing for election, and for the Electoral Commission.