With the dismal numbers (59.1%) coming out on this year’s federal election compared with previous years, and with the even lower turn-out for the Halifax Regional Municipality with online voting to boot, it is no wonder that people are calling vote promotion venues like D250 to task. Dal News is one of these, and I will re-post part of my response here:
I think young people see how their nations, states and municipalities are not wise, but they don’t see/understand/acknowledge their own place in that lack of wisdom. D250 managed to brand voting as a positive thing — what it didn’t do is brand it as an intelligent/wise/clever thing. Or, perhaps more importantly, it didn’t brand lack of voting as an unintelligent/stupid/moronic/asinine thing.
To me, voting is the Wikipedia of our government. If alot of people participate, putting in quality thought and decision, then a wiki will provide excellent content. If people let the system be taken over by folks who just happen to show up, our system crumbles and can even be used for serious wrong-doing.
Government is no different. And with the angst over Canada not having proportional representation voting becomes even more poignant. We cannot expect the current government in power to even consider a change in the electoral system unless the people who want that change are willing to put them out of office for failing to act. Nor can we expect an opposition party to make proportional representation part of their platform if the people who want it are not willing to reward them for doing so. The same goes for just about any issue. 10 million votes (the number of people who did not bother to show up) could easily swing the election towards or away from any of the current ruling parties. In fact, 10 million is almost twice the total of people that voted for the ruling Conservative party. In the states, some think absentee voting may have contributed to the so-called Bradley effect that created a distortion between public polls and electoral reality during the election of the Governor of California back in 1983 and this, in turn, could result in a similar result for Barack Obama.
All of this is a huge tragedy, not only for our country but the world. As I said before, without those 10 million people my country is more stupid, less compassionate and ultimately bound to repeat the mistakes of the past. Sure citizens can be involved without voting, but mamby-pamby grassroots movements have nothing on the sheer power of a 569 billion dollar Canadian tax base. That’s kind of like saying “oh, I can dig this ditch with my handy spade while the steam shovel drives itself.”
But all in all, a low voter turn-out simply leads to poor decision making in our governments. Under this regime, even the smartest politician can only be and do dumb things. A leader cannot possibly make strong decisions when more people sat home and twiddled their thumbs than actually chose to endorse his policy position. In short, I support Belgium and Australia in legislating their citizens to vote and would love to see some of this legislation come to Canada.