Photos from the 2011 Federal Election

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Voter Apathy

Municipal elections in Markham typically bring out only 30% of the voter eligible public. Thats what my most recent letter to the Markham Economist highlights. Certainly lack of choice is a major issue, when all the candidates sound the same, mouth the same platitudes, promise the same promises its hard to blame voters for their apathy. Its just that kind of situation that prompted me to run as the Libertarian candidate in the last Federal election; at least it gave me a moral choice. As I explain most voters prefer to vote for the winner no matter what their faults.  

Re: Voter Apathy in Markham

Markham votes on Oct. 25 and election officials are expecting a voter turnout of just 30%. That number is pathetic in any society that treasures its liberty.

The reasons for low voter turnout are complex but often related to the false idea that an individual vote can make no difference. Voters like to see that their vote is not wasted, so it is difficult to defeat an incumbent because previous winners attract voters, unless the incumbent has really screwed up.

The idea of “wasting your vote” if voting for a newcomer, encourages apathy, and it is that very mindset that needs to be re-evaluated.

In any election every politician reviews past poll results to determine how to fine-tune their own election message. They will examine trends, shifts, and even try to link policy ideas to candidate results. In this examination every vote counts, even the votes of losing candidates. It is this kind of analysis that can ultimately change government policies.

If voters don’t vote nothing will change, and worse a relatively small number of votes that represent a committed lobby group could swing an election to your detriment. In an election with a small turnout, every vote cast is magnified.

One thing that can be done in future elections is to add the category of “none” or “none of the above” to each list of candidates. This allows voters to at least express their indignation at the choice of candidates for a category.

In this election, voters should be aware that they need not vote for all positions available; a voter may only wish to vote for one Regional Councillor and leave the rest of the ballot blank. Our voting machines would consider that a valid ballot, and the blanks could represent indignation or just plain lack of information to make an intelligent choice.

Get out and vote, or be governed by politicians you had no voice in choosing.

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