It would be hard to think of anything sillier than for our Canadian politicians to make voting mandatory. They might just get more than they deserve. Anyone promoting the idea of making it mandatory probably has no idea of the why, when and how of voting by the general population. They might not realize that not voting also makes a clear statement.
While there might be a tendency for people who do not vote to be the first to complain about the results, they obviously have decided that they cannot make a change in the outcome. This could be frustration speaking in that the person feels they cannot effect change. It could be a dislike for all the candidates. More likely though, the actual act of voting might have been an inconvenience. The complaint about frustration can be just a cop-out.
The truth to be faced though is that politicians are not always the ones to promote the privilege of voting. The Conservative government’s so-called Fair Elections Act during the last parliament did not exactly encourage voting across all demographics. There was an automatic assumption that doing away with the practice of vouching—where a registered voter could vouch for a person lacking identification—would benefit the status quo. Also stopping the Chief Returning Officer from impartially promoting voting would also support the status quo. Despite these so obvious efforts, the government lost the subsequent election anyway.
It was the Conservative MPs themselves that stressed the importance of political parties themselves taking responsibility for encouraging Canadians to vote. And while there have been claims made for some alternative systems of voting that they will encourage higher turnouts in elections, they are probably just as likely to cure baldness. It is probably not in any political party’s direct interest to just say ‘Vote as you like but be sure to vote.’
Over the past 100 years of Canadian elections, the political parties have developed more and more sophisticated systems of identifying their vote. ‘Can we count on your support?’ has never been an idle question from those ubiquitous door-to-door political canvassers.
Voting for elected positions at all levels of government has been an ingrained right of Canadians before Confederation in 1867. Our new citizens each year and our young people turning 19 can look forward to that right. It is their right. It is not a duty. They should be able to exercise that right if and when they wish.
Copyright 2016 © Peter Lowry
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