As many of you are aware, there was a provincial election recently. The campaign seemed to go on forever since Premier Dalton McQuinty closed down Queens Park early this summer and thus the rubber hit the road.
During that campaign there was a referendum on our voting system that we, as voters, had to figure out and make a decision on. The future of the province was up for grabs. Did we think that the Liberals did a good enough job to carry on for four more years or did they deserve to get the boot?
Despite what side of that arguement you sat on, one thing we should all be able to agree upon is this…the voter turnout was dissappointing.
Just over half of the electorate came out to vote. This statistic has been continually debated after each election and a common theme has emerged. My vote doesn’t count.
Now when I hear that, it makes me shake my head. A perfect example can be given from this past provincial election.
Halton MPP Ted Chudleigh has been representing our riding of Halton for 12 years. He, in my and many peoples opinions, has done a very good job representing us in fights to secure more funding for Milton’s hospital and other services our growing community needs.
To put a long story short, Ted was returned to Queens Park on October 10th with a difference of only 164 votes when everything was counted. Going from having the highest plurality of votes by a winning candidate in the last elections to one of, if not THE closest margin of victory this time. Regardless of what you thought about faith based education funding and what kind of impact that had on Ted’s results, it just goes to show that everyone who did vote here in Halton….those votes counted.
Another example from the previous federal election can be found with our current Minister of Health, Tony Clement. He won his riding by only 28 votes. On election night and before the recount, he had only won by 21 votes. Again, in that riding as well as others, those votes counted.
Want more? Lets go back in time shall we? Almost one year ago in fact.
Last year around this time we were in the midst of our municipal election campaign. I was spending almost each and every waking moment hitting the doors and talking to as many people as possible. My blog was being updated on a daily basis with comments and observations that I got from the voters in my ward.
Every issue that came up, I did my best to put out there exactly what my stand on the issue was and what can be done to fix that problem. From Pristine Power to road safety to green growth and to accountibility of the elected officials…everything was up for discussion.
In Milton, each ward can elect 2 town councillors to represent them. In our current system its the first two candidates with the highest votes that win. In past elections in Ward One, the difference between the first two candidates and the third were hundreds of votes. This time around in 2006, the difference betweeen an elected seat and the third place was only 92 votes.
Less than 100 votes separated myself from current Councilor Brian Penman. Not a large margin…and that’s democracy for you.
So when I hear from people that my vote doesnt count, I bring them to these examples and say, YES your vote DOES count.
Instead of coming up with different ways to count our votes (ie MMP et all) we should be taking a hard look at ourselves and our priorities when it comes to the ballot box.
Why didnt you vote? Oh I didnt have time. The last provincial election had several days of advanced polls so that people who would find it hard to go vote on election day, can come out and have their voice heard. I believe the advanced polls were open 5 days and open for almost 10 hours on election day. There are laws in place to allow everyone a chance to vote. Many people dont take advantage of these options and its saddening to say the least.
In the last municipal election less than 30% of people voted. In the following by election in Ward 2, even less voted … approx 20%. Again in this situation, advance polls were available, extended voting hours and many opportunities given, but yet people didnt show up. I dont think that by changing the system from its current incarnation to MMP or another system will help.
The problem is people dont want to vote. Again, many feel that their vote doesnt count. Hopefully after reading this, they might change their opinion. We need to find out why people arent voting and work at it from that angle…not changing the system so that we end up losing local representation in some ridings by having some political party people sitting in a seat and speaking out on our behalf.
Lets have that discussion soon. A federal election is looming in the next few months quite possibly and given the current state of affairs and the minority government in place, our vote counts even more.