Tuesday, March 18, 2008

19% Voter Turnout - Shame, Shame, Shame

Whooee! Well friends an' foes, I was watching the TV coverage of the by-elections last night and I seen that a paltry 19% of eligible voters bothered exercising their democratic right and doing their democratic duty.

Voting is not simply a privilege. It is a responsibility.

New Canadians who pass the citizenship test and take the Oath of Citizenship are educated about their responsibilities and duties.

Citizenship responsibilities

All Canadian citizens have the responsibility to

  • vote in elections;
  • help others in the community;
  • care for and protect our heritage and environment;
  • obey Canada’s laws;
  • express opinions freely while respecting the rights and freedoms of others; and
  • eliminate discrimination and injustice.

At a time when Canadians are sacrificing their lives trying to create a democracy in Afghanistan, failure to get off your ass for a half an hour and perform your duty is unconscionable.

I am truly ashamed of the 81% of so-called Canadians who failed to do their duty yesterday.



Pale said...

With each election.....it becomes more and more apparent that people just don't give two hoots, and are probably watching too much US TV.
In many countries voting is mandatory.
I know that wouldn't fly here....(MUH freedom UH speech) and all that claptrap, I guess includes the freedom to not speak and be ruled by bullies and facists...
Hard to make people care about their own future when they can't even be bothered to vote. *sigh*

Anonymous said...

Oh dear, I knew the time would come when we'd disagree on something of substance JB.

What is unconscionable is a system of choosing a governing body where eligible citizens get to go into the voting booth and cast their ballot for the individual who will be told how to vote by the party whip based on instructions said whip receives from the party leader.

That ain't democracy, heck, it ain't even a representative democracy unless yer talking about the party as the entity being represented.

I think the last time I actually cast a legal ballot was in 1980 when I was helping out the Rhino Party candidate in the federal riding of Nunatsiaq -- hard and thirsty work it was developing a platform on where Andy sat on the issues because he refused to stand for anything.... not to mention going knocking on doors in -30 deg C weather :-)

A lot of people are disillusioned by what our system of electing a government has become, and how that government operates JimBobby, and they know that perpetuating the whole mess is not the solution.... so what are our options?

I look the thing over and I ain't got nothing to vote for except more of the same and that just ain't palatable to me.

Scott in Montreal said...

stageleft, Ido believe both the Greens and the NDP have electoral reform in their platforms. Heck, if you join up with the Greens you can instantly involve yourself in formulatin' and refinin' the party platform online. That impresses me, and it should impress other Canajins too, but it's like pale says: people I know around here talk US pol'tics more'n Canajun seems...

Scott in Montreal said...

(that last comment made with apologies to the host, but truth to tell, my Mum grew up talking much the same way in rural Queebec. Townshippers're traditionally reluctant to waste precious time pronouncin' useless "g"s, eh?)

Erik said...

In many countries voting is mandatory.
I know that wouldn't fly here....

It COULD fly here if there were two options added:
1) nothing of the above
2) apathetic

I wouldn't be surprised to get a majority for "apathetic", but I'm sure many upset with the current FPTP system would vote "nothing of the above".

I would applaud implementing these options ASAP and give a $50 tax deduction for all of those who do vote.

Anonymous said...

Democratic reform? We don't know for sure what the Greens would do yet but we do know that the NDP whips their vote, and I'm cynical enough to believe that on the day 3 Greens get elected to Parliament one of them will be given the title of whip.

People want a real say in what's going on.

Voting for the person who will be told how and when to vote by "the party" isn't acceptable to them.

(Say what you will about the US system - and I complain about them all the time - but when was the last time you heard of a D or an R being kicked out of the party for voting against the party line)

The party with the greatest minority of votes forming a majority government isn't acceptable to them.

The stupid partisan games played in the House and in the media aren't acceptable to reasonable people.

Real democratic reform starts with people protesting, and one of the most effective (non-violent) ways of doing that is by refusing to participate, and I think it's bloody great that people are staying home in droves.

At some point turnout will be low enough that the powers that be will have to address it, hopefully they'll do better than simply forcing people into the polling booth on pain of being jailed (I fear that because [a] I will break that law, and [b] I really am to pretty to go to jail) but I ain't holding my breath.

JimBobby said...

Whooee! Thanks fer chimin' in.

UPDATE: According to latest reports, 27.9% voted on Monday. Not quite as bad as I thought.

SL, I respect your considered opinion. I think we may have discussed it over at your place before.

I suppose where we disagree is about just how effective non-voting is as a means of change.

"Real democratic reform starts with people protesting, and one of the most effective (non-violent) ways of doing that is by refusing to participate, and I think it's bloody great that people are staying home in droves.

I really don't think many of those who don't vote are refraining as a form of non-violent protest. They are mostly apathetic people who, when asked why they didn't vote, will answer, "I'm not interested in politics." I hear that all the time even when trying to discuss such vital topics as electoral reform or democratic reform.

Even if abstention is a form of protest, I don't see it having any other effect than to encourage despotism. Power is derived from the ballot box. The mobs who don't vote are not likely to storm Parliament Hill demanding a better democracy.

I blame the schools and the parents for the apathy that allows tiny minorities to rule us as though they had the support of a vast majority. How many Canadians realize that voting is a duty, according to official GoC documents? All new Canadians who have passed the citizenship test know that.

BTW, I am in favour of a "none-of-the-above" type choice for protest votes.

Sorry, but I won't be back here much for a few days. I'm busy, busy, busy.


Scott in Montreal said...

stageleft, I hear you, but disenfranchising yourself is not your sole option of protest. On at least one occasion, I have exercised my right to vote by destroying my ballot to show my distaste for all options, while still showing my respect for the democratic process and civic duty. That's (to my mind) a constructive protest; one that can't be construed as an apathetic response.

Anonymous said...

Ask your MP why the option to decline the ballot has languished on the "recommendation list" for electoral reform for years, and years, and years Scott.

There may be many flowery answers provided, but the sad fact is that they don't want to know how many people went to the polls and found nothing acceptable on the ballot.

Your destroyed ballot is categorized with those where the voter wasn't coordinated enough to get an "X" in the circle, or who voted in order of preference.... just like my refusal to go to the polls and legitimize a flawed system is counted among those who either couldn't be bothered, or got lost on the way to the polling station.

.... and the system wants to keep it that way, because if it "knew" it might have to do something.

Saskboy said...

I listened to Lynda Haverstock give a lecture last night on democratic participation in Canada. We all see the danger in the current lack of citizen participation in our country (and are experiencing the harm in our current government who is able to rule without opposition, with a minority of voter support). There are so many institutions and people at fault, there's no good place to begin. We just have to each accept one, and do one. Staying at home is confused with apathy, not protest; Sheep, not wolf in planning.