ON Thursday there are elections and everyone has two votes - one for Somerset County Council and one for the European Parliament.

Turnout at elections has fallen in recent decades, and public discontent may further reduce the enthusiasm for voting.

That would be a real shame, for two reasons.

First, someone is going to win each election, and if we want hard-working politicians who share our values, we have to vote for them.

The popularity of the BNP could be exaggerated, but anyone who fails to vote cannot complain if extremists win.

And secondly, the decisions made by Somerset County Council affect local schools, care services, roads and many other aspects of our lives.

We have the opportunity to influence those decisions on June 4.

The European Union lacks democratic accountability, is not properly answerable to ordinary people and needs substantial reform.

But it would be strange if dissatisfaction with the lack of democracy in the EU meant people did not vote when there is an election.

The EU impacts on all our lives, and has an important role to play in addressing climate change, tackling international crime and promoting free trade.

Voting takes place between 7am and 10pm on Thursday, June 4.

It takes a few minutes to vote, but the consequences, for better or worse, last many years.