AT this moment, not a vote has been counted. All the politicians are on zero. Every vote therefore will count, and it will count equally.

It will determine the identity of the next government, and it may well be even more profound than that: it may signal a change in party running the country; it may give one party a big majority in the hope that they will get cracking and fix the nation; it may determine the direction that other parties will take in future; it may allow a third party to threaten the big two in a way that has never been seen before.

Or it may just be a vote for a local champion.

There are fears that turnout today will be lower than 2019’s 67 per cent. Agreed, 2024 hasn’t been the most inspiring campaign – it has dragged on far too long, not just in the six weeks since Rishi Sunak called it in the rain, but in the year-long phoney campaign before that.

And agreed, the two main candidates to be Prime Minister are not the most effervescent of characters – although after our brush with Boris, we’ve probably had our fill of colourful individuals.

But it is a complete cop-out to say that all politicians are the same because they are not. Surely everyone can distinguish between Nigel Farage and Reform UK and Carla Denyer and the Greens. Or Ed Davey and the LibDems on their paddleboard. You must therefore be able to choose whether you want Mr Sunak’s Conservatives or Sir Keir Starmer’s Labour Party to take the reins of government.

It is less than 100 years since every adult in Britain got the vote and yet it could be that more than a third of people don’t go to a polling station. Their grandparents and great-grandparents, who were around at the time of that great struggle, would look on them askance if they pass up this powerful opportunity.

The Northern Echo had its say yesterday. Today is the time to have your say. Go out and vote.