THERE is a relatively new neighbour in my street who comes from south east Asia and is married to a Scot.

We haven’t had a chance to have the normal social interchanges because of the current ground rules, but in a chance encounter in the street the other week she and her husband told me about the hassle they were having getting her on the electoral roll despite her having, and having sent off, all the relevant paperwork.

The local MP got on her case and sorted it, but it made me think about the effort people from other countries make to ensure they can use their franchise. And about how little some Scots seem to value that privilege.

Who could forget those pictures from South Africa when the apartheid regime fell and Black citizens queued for hours in baking heat to use the vote they’d been denied so long?

Who could not despair at the naked attempts in some American states just last November to prevent people getting to polling stations if they were perceived to be likely to vote in the “wrong way”?

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And 100 years ago in this country, only some people were allowed to take part in elections, their eligibility being decided because of property and wealth rather than worthwhile citizenship.

So today’s election has to be seen in the light of some troubled history, too much of it too recent.

Yet there are still people who can’t manage to find the small amount of time it takes to register their preference. And others who think a spoiled paper is somehow a clever way of saying “a plague on all their houses”.

It’s not. It’s a cheap stunt which denies all the efforts people of every persuasion have put in over the last few weeks. Life is all about compromises; one of the ones most of us make is voting for parties with whom we mostly agree, since the one which exactly mirrors our views doesn’t exist.

So if you still have a vote to cast, get out and do it. You are lucky enough to live in a democracy. People died to make sure you could.