Concern is growing that the people who post comments on local newspaper Facebook stories may also actually vote and, consequently, have some influence in how the country is run.
“I’m really disturbed,” explained Simon Williams, a cat-shaver from Colchester.
“There was a news report on Essex Live the other day about how someone from Strictly thought Southend was quite nice and there were 600 comments under the story about how there are too many immigrants in the county and that we should repurpose old WWII pillboxes to shoot them as they cross the channel.
“Apparently – and I didn’t know this – but there’s nothing to prevent these people voting. They can just get themselves on the Electoral Register and they can vote like normal people, and those votes are actually counted.
“That’s a truly terrifying thought.”
Mr Williams cited several other examples. On a story about a new façade for the WH Smith in Chelmsford station, an argument was raging about how it was time to stop vaccinating everyone and ‘just get back to normal.’ Another story was about a duck who’d had some babies, beneath it someone had written a long, rambling post about bringing back National Service ‘if these layabouts don’t want to work.’ It had garnered over 400 likes at the time of writing.
“I can’t believe we live in a sophisticated democracy and yet these people still have a say in who governs the country,” continued Mr Williams.
However, he did have a solution.
“About a month before the next election, if we just get the Chronicle to run a story about how the BBC is brilliant and the licence fee is going up by 20%.
“Should keep these maniacs busy commenting and arguing for weeks and, hopefully, they won’t even notice there’s an election going on.”