In four days, folks in Orléans and across Canada will be heading to the polls to vote in the federal election. Some will vote along party lines, some will vote for the candidate who impressed them the most without regard to party affiliation and some will cast their ballot based on a particular issue. Unfortunately, thousands will vote without any regard to the respective party’s platform or not vote at all.
Several years ago I was invited to be a panel member at a symposium on western democracy and the Canadian electoral process. I was one of nine speakers at the event as a representative of the media.
One of the audience members asked for our opinion on mandatory voting.
I was the last of the nine speakers to respond.
After all eight of the previous speakers whole-heartedly supported the concept of mandatory voting it was my turn.
“Absolutely not,” I responded. “The problem is not that not enough people vote. The problem is that too many of the people who do vote have no idea what they’re voting for.”
This is especially true in municipal elections, where most people automatically vote for the incumbent, or the first name on the ballot. It’s also the reason why I don’t like referendums.
The only people who benefit from mandatory voting are the incumbents.
We don’t need more people voting. We need more people casting an educated vote.
If you are one of the thousands of people out there who are still undecided, my suggestion is to do some research. Peel yourself away from Facebook or YouTube long enough to visit the respective parties’ websites.
If you have a particular issue that is important to you, try e-mailing each of the local candidates for their respective positions on that issue. Some will get back to you sooner rather than later and some may not get back to you at all. Judge them accordingly.
If a candidate cares enough about your vote they will get back
to you. How long it takes largely depends on how busy they are, but it also may be an indication of how organized or unorganized they are. A well organized campaign will assign a staffer or volunteer to monitor the incoming emails and ensure any questions from voters are responded to in a timely and satisfactory manner.
Finally, there’s a lot to be said about voting for a candidate without regard to their party affiliation. First, of all there is no guarantee that the candidate’s party will form the next government, and in the case of the NDP and Green Party, the candidates almost certainly won’t.
If you are trying to decide which candidate to vote for consider which one would be the most effective if you have a federal issue that needs to be addressed like a passport issue, or a federal pension or EI issue etc. And do your homework.
– Fred Sherwin,