Hump Day: Honour Canadian democracy and get out to vote on Monday

Hump DayHump Day
By Brian Cormier
Wednesday, April 27, 2011
Moncton Times & Transcript
Editorial page

Sometimes, I wonder whether or not Canada would be well served by a good old fashioned national tragedy, devastating war or terrorist act on our soil or a government so evil that it partakes in genocide and the systematic dismantling of everything we hold dear, including public health care and education.

I write this because sometimes I think we’re way too comfortable.

Why? Because a huge chunk of eligible voters don’t even bother to go to the ballot box to take two minutes of their time to mark an “X” next to a candidate’s name.

Next Monday, Canadians will go to the polls in the country’s 41st general election since Confederation.

Millions of Canadians will exercise their civic duty and mark their ballots. Some will also deliberately spoil their ballots in an attempt to send a message. Fair enough. At least they showed up.

Millions, however, will not even bother to take the time out of their day to pick up that stubby pencil, unfold the ballot, mark their “X” and then fold it back up to give to the poll worker who then tears off the security tab proving it’s a legal ballot, followed by you depositing that very important piece of paper in the ballot box.

Let’s go through some of the excuses that people use not to vote.

“Didn’t have time.” People can vote at advance polls and at returning offices for several days before election day. There’s no need to wait until May 2 to cast your ballot. Surely within those several days you can find a minute to write a little “X” on a ballot?

“Didn’t know where to go.” Everyone gets a card in the mail. Even if you’ve moved, you’ll probably get a card destined for the previous resident telling you where and when you can vote. A simple search online will tell you where to vote. Call one of your local candidates, as well. They will give you the right number to call.

“Didn’t have a way to get there.” You can call any candidate and I can guarantee you that they’ll send someone over to pick you up at home and drive you back. If they think you’ll vote for them by providing you with a drive, rest assured that they’ll treat you nicely. You’re under no obligation to vote for the candidate whose team gave you a drive, but it’s considered polite to call the candidate you intend to vote for.

“I didn’t have identification on me.” You need identification to vote. Workers can’t just take your word that you’re the person whose name is on the voter’s card. Taken directly from Elections Canada’s website, the following identification options exist:

1. Show one original piece of identification with your photo, name and address. It must be issued by a government agency. (Example: Driver’s licence.)

2. Show two original pieces of authorized identification. Both pieces must have your name and one must also have your address. (Examples: New Brunswick Medicare card and utility bill – telephone, cable, electricity).

3. Take an oath and have an elector who knows you vouch for you (both of you will be required to make a sworn statement). This person must have authorized identification and their name must appear on the list of electors in the same polling division as you. This person can only vouch for one person and the person who is vouched for cannot vouch for another elector.

Another reason that people don’t vote is, “All politicians are the same.” Oh no, they’re not. Party platforms differ widely in a variety of areas, including emphasis in certain areas that may impact your life more than others. Do some research. Read the pamphlets that show up in your mailbox. Don’t assume everyone’s the same. They’re not.

“I hate elections.” Interesting comment. Many people in Libya, Egypt, China and North Korea would love to have true democratic elections. Talk to any immigrant or refugee from one of those countries and they’ll tell you pretty quickly that Canadians are very lucky to be able to vote freely and without threats of violence – or worse.

“I forgot” Really? Not enough wall-to-wall news coverage and election signs on every corner to remind you?

“One vote doesn’t make a difference.” According to online research I did, the following was decided by one single vote:

King Charles I of England was executed in 1649, a fate decided by one vote.

In 1800, one vote made Thomas Jefferson the U.S. president over Aaron Burr.

One vote can make a difference, including over life or death.

“I can’t be bothered.” Really? Thankfully, the members of our military didn’t say that in the First of Second World Wars. If they couldn’t be bothered, how different would Canada be today?

“All politicians are crooks.” It drives me crazy to hear people say this. While I understand the cynicism, it’s completely untrue. The vast majority of politicians are well-meaning and work very hard every day to help their constituents. Whatever you may think of them, I can assure you that most politicians work seven days per week.

Next Monday, please do your duty for your country as a Canadian citizen. Cast your ballot. Please honour our peaceful democracy by voting.

One Response to Hump Day: Honour Canadian democracy and get out to vote on Monday

  1. Excellent, Brian. We share a passion to this. Nothing drives me crazier that people who can’t bother to vote.
    Fortunately, this time I have noticed much less of that. Even though I live in Gilles Duceppe’s riding, I am hearing from hard nosed bloc supporters that they are voting for “Jack”.
    I lived in Ontario during the Rae days, so this is a bit disconcerting – but I’ll take anything over Harper and Duceppe.