I’m British: So why is it so damned hard to vote in UK elections?

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Ever since I turned 18, I have always voted in British elections.  This year, though, it’s proving much harder to cast my vote.

As I am currently living in Denmark I am classed as an Overseas Elector, along with millions of other British expats around the world. Back in January I decided to heed the advice from the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office and apply online to register. It was pretty straight forward.

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Letter from my local council in London

A few weeks later I received a letter from my borough council in London telling me that I had been successful. The electoral services department included a postal vote application – which is by far the easiest way in which to exercise my right. However, it came with this advice:

“Although ballot papers can be sent abroad by post, they are only posted out about a week to ten days before an election. You are strongly advised to appoint a proxy.”

A proxy? Someone I trust enough to put the ‘X’ next to the name/party to whom I’m giving my vote? Am I the only British citizen who finds this deeply uncomfortable? Where’s the ‘secret ballot’ in all this? Given the numerous investigations into postal election fraud in the UK, why is it considered ‘democratic’ to ask someone else to vote on my behalf?

I was hoping my parents would help me. But it turns out they’re out of the country on election day. So now I have to think of someone else who will exercise MY right on Thursday 7th May.

When I do convince someone to help, they then have the whole issue of how to cast MY vote. Either they do it in person in my South London constituency, or they can receive my ballot papers by post. If they choose the latter, there’s an application form he/she will have to fill in – one that I have to send them first, from Denmark.

The whole system seems crazy. With all this technology at our finger tips, why is it so damned hard to vote? Surely it’s time the Electoral Commission and the British political system in general moved into the 21st century.

Kiin Kiin in Copenhagen: Probably the best Thai restaurant in the world

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Kiin Kiin’s freeze dried Thai red curry

Until I moved here, I didn’t fully appreciate the number of fantastic restaurants there are in Copenhagen. 15 in this capital have at least one michelin star. While I’ve been lucky enough to eat at the very best in the world – Noma – I may have now experienced somewhere that tops even this joint.

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The Snowball – with candyfloss, watercress, squid, mint and cucumber

Kiin Kiin is nestled in the heart of Nørrebro and is the only Thai restaurant outside Thailand to be awarded a Michelin star. And boy is it deserved. From the moment we entered this former drug den, we were treated like royalty and fed like kings and queens. Of the 22 dishes we were served, it’s hard to know which was my favourite. The flavours, the textures, the look and smell – every single course was perfect.

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There’s more to insects than ants: Crispy cricket in edible soil.

The crispy cricket buried in a bucket of edible soil is chef, Henrik Yve Anderson’s equivalent of Noma’s ant dishes. As Kiin Kiin itself says: “Insects (including ants) are high in protein and very healthy… But so many serve ants these days.” This really was delicious.

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The liquid in the syringe turned into thick noodles!

Tuna worms in wasabi are also a talking point – and really tasty.  So too The Snowball – candyfloss with squid, mint, cucumber and watercress. There was salted meringue with cashew, lotus flowers, miang kam – a spiced salad with tamarin, chili, lime and ginger. Honestly the courses and the flavours just kept on coming.

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Chicken hearts plus egg yolk

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Scrumptious dumplings

At almost 1,000 DKK for food alone, this is a restaurant you need to save up for. But I really can’t recommend it highly enough. I hope I’ll get the chance to come back for a second sitting.