Irrational fear of messing up vote (NOT political)

I’ve just been out to cast my vote, and realised I was really anxious about it. Not because I’ve been undecided, or wondering if I’m doing the right thing, or anything like that (I’m deliberately trying to keep this away from a discussion of the politics).

I mean the mechanics of actually voting. I had a sort of paranoid fear I was going to do it wrong!

Now I am someone who routinely walks into doorposts at least once or twice a day, so perhaps my fears of some kind of mishap were not entirely unfounded - but I am not noticeably disabled, either physically or cognitively, so surely I should not be worrying that I might not be able to put a cross in the right place?

Has anyone else had (or still has, if you’ve not yet voted), this nagging sense of: “Oh dear, I’m sure I’ll do it wrong!”? Enough to actually feel nervous?

I know it’s good to treat it seriously, and as a valuable thing you must get right, but not to the point of feeling apprehensive, surely?

I knew that even if I realised I had made a mistake, all would not be lost - as long as I hadn’t put it in the box yet. All I’d need to do would be to approach one of the presiding officers, explain what happened, and they’d destroy the spoiled paper, and be able to issue me a new one.

So I kept telling myself, make sure you’ve read the question - just as if it were an exam (occasionally - but not in our constituency, I don’t think - you do get candidates who deliberately set out to gain from voter confusion by choosing a similar party name to someone else.)

Just mark one box, and only one. Then check and re-check, and fold it up, and make sure you put it in the right box.

I did all this - even down to asking: “Is this the right box?” (there were two, but either was OK), before depositing anything in there.

Happily, all seemed to go OK. If I somehow did still vote for the wrong person/party, I happily have no chance of ever finding out!

But is it normal to feel this anxious about the simple act of putting a cross in a box?

The ballot paper was nice and clear, it was extra large print, and there was not a huge long list of candidates. The boxes were nice and large, and widely spaced, so even a person with an unsteady hand (like many of us with MS) shouldn’t struggle to hit the target. And the staff couldn’t have been more friendly and helpful, so I’m sure, if I’d had any difficulty whatsoever, they’d have been happy to assist me (short of actually marking the paper for me, which they’re not allowed, but they could certainly issue a replacement if I messed up).

So why did I have this anxiety about: “I’m going to do it wrong, aren’t I?”.

I find if I even have to send a birthday card now, I usually buy two, to allow for one messed up.

I suppose this is just one of the joys of living with MS - worrying that I might not be able to put a cross in a box.

Mind you, this time five years ago, I was very new to MS, and was only a “probable”, not confirmed. I struggled to walk to the polling station, and had no idea if I’d still be walking it again in five years, or even still be alive, as the only high profile case of MS I’d ever heard of was Jacqueline du Pré - and we all know what happened to her.

So I’m pleased to report I not only got to the polling station and marked the box, but walked around the park (about one mile - the polling station happens to be in the park) - and then to the chip shop. So things have certainly not been as bad as they looked as if they might be, five years ago. But I still worry about mistakes with simple tasks.



hi tina

i worry about the silliest things but this is because i do sometimes make mammoth mess-ups!

i miss being the super organised and intelligent person i once was.

but hey, i’m still here and tomorrow i will have bright pink streaks in my hair!

(totally irrelevant comment)

glad you managed to vote.

carole x

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hiya tina

as u know i cant get far so i opted for postal vote-easier?! no!

i had same prob with fear of making a mistake and as for getting the forms back in the envelope-no chance-had to get my son to do it.

why is everything such a hassle?!

ellie x

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Hiya Ellie,

I think I’d be worse with a postal vote, as well! If you realise you have messed it up, it’s not as if there’s a handy assistant you can turn to and explain what happened. They’re not going to include a spare form for people who are worried about making a mistake, because of the obvious risk of fraud, so you get one try!

It’s almost like a self-fulfilling prophecy, because the more important something is (not just votes - anything), the more flustered I get about messing it up - especially if it’s a form with no spare, or a deed that has to be witnessed or anything.


Last week I had to handwrite a very short, postcard-sized explanation of something, for a project we were doing at college. We were given ONE postcard each (I knew I should have asked for a spare). Even though I took the precaution of practicing on a postcard-sized piece of paper, yes, you guessed it - I messed up the version I had to give in.



i voted by post,what a hassle,wish i had just done it the normal way, it would have been easier lol

J x

It’s a good job you weren’t voting here in Otley Tina.

one paper for the General Election

a second paper for Leeds City Council

a third paper for Otley Town Council - where you could vote for 5 candidates.

I was doing duty outside the poling station ( one of those irritating bods who ask for your polling number) and some of the older folk came out looking positively boggle eyed.

One old dear told me she was very confused because she couldn’t see David Cameron’s name anywhere!!!


Oh, we had three as well, Jane!

I insisted I ONLY wanted the one for the GE, because I’m absolutely clueless about local politics, and I think voting from a position of ignorance is actually more irresponsible than not voting at all. I don’t think it follows that you necessarily want the party of the same colour that you want for the nationals, so I could have voted for someone I wouldn’t agree with at all - and against the person I would agree with - just stupid to vote unless you actually know what you’re doing - like sticking a pin in!

Of course, the usher-type person (I don’t know the official word for them) who was explaining it to everyone, was a local councillor, so not at all keen that any voter should decline to vote in the locals. But I was adamant. I said: “No, I understand what you’re saying, but I don’t want to get confused!”

Of course, I could have just taken three forms in with me, and spoilt two, or put them in the box blank, but I thought that was a waste of time and paper, and would lead to more chance I’d have a “senior moment” in the booth - so I took only the form for the one I wanted to vote in.

I’m glad I didn’t vote in the others. One of them, you had to pick THREE candidates, and as I didn’t know anything about any of them, picking one would have been hard, let alone three.

One of the incumbent councillors is a neighbour of mine, but is the neighbour from hell (short of actually being a criminal, which I know some people have to put up with). Neverending building work, building total monstrosities out in the garden, power tools going as soon as there’s five minutes of warm weather - i.e. literally as soon as I can get my shorts on - continually yelling, badly behaved kids - you name it! I was shocked when I learnt he was a councillor. I know his party (which I might otherwise have endorsed) but don’t know his actual name, so the last thing I’d want is to accidentally boost him in the polls. Perhaps I should’ve picked three random candidates that are definitely NOT from the same party, and voted for all of them instead. The only way to make sure I couldn’t possibly be backing him!



This made me laugh out loud - I’m just the same! Standing there dithering and wondering is that REALLY the right box I’m putting the tick in…


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Thanks Alison!

THANK GOD it’s not just me! I kept wondering: “Am I really so bad yet I can’t even put a cross in the right place?”

It’s supposed to be a cross, by the way. However, if you did use a tick, they are instructed to count it, as long as your intention was clear.



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l was trying to think of the easiest way to get to the village hall - l can’t walk unaided - so l could drive down there with my rollator in the car to use. OR l could go on my Tramper and get as close to the door as possible and hope l could manage with two sticks. l chose the latter. Actually hitched the dogs to the Tramper to take for a run first. On the way down we had to stop as the local farmer was moving some cows and very young calves across the road into another field. l got to the hall and left the dogs outside and managed with the sticks. l did not feel safe - and was glad it was just the two officials sat there.

We had two ballots - the GE and Stratford District. So quite easy - one ballot box for the GE and a green one for the Stratford.

Called round to my mum and told her that it was polling day. And to my surprise she said she had posted hers earlier. l was amazed that she had managed that - she is 91 - and very forgetful - but still able to remember some things. For her generation they take it seriously and would not miss the opportunity to place her vote.

I had 3 voting papers to complete.

The GE one was easy, just one box to tick.

The Borough Council was 3 boxes to tick. Again, fairly straightforward as there was a limited choice and a very limited choice of parties with a few independents.

The town council was a huge list - I’m talking 2 feet long! I could choose 17 candidates. I had read all the canvassing literature that had dropped through the door but I could only remember the ones that stood out as wanting the same things I want for the town so I voted for 4 as you don’t have to use all your votes. I wasn’t going to risk voting for anyone I didn’t know and couldn’t remember what their policies were …

I wish they would have the local elections at a different time to the GE so I didn’t have so much to think about.

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l watched on channel 4 last night The Last Leg - the Australian guy Adam Hills was saying that in Australia they often get about 8 or even more candidates and have to list them in order of preference. Can you imagine the stress levels in doing that. But - they do have ‘barbies’ BBQ’s outside every polling station so lots of sausages get eaten and lager drank.