Did you show your voting licence?

Tomorrow, we can bemoan the poor turnout of voters. This Ontario election will only serve to prove it is getting worse. Too many people have disconnected from the basics of our democracy. The only problem is that we are going about the solution the wrong way. We have got to stop urging the wrong people to vote. If you had to have a licence to vote, more people would participate.

“Vote as you wish, but vote” is a dumb slogan. We hardly need more ignorant people to vote. Not everyone is a political science major and not everyone pays attention to the news media, reads political propaganda or meets their candidate. And just because somebody is stupid does not mean they are not entitled to vote.

But if you had to prove your right to vote and prove you are paying a reasonable level of attention to what is going on around you, you should get a licence to vote. It would save a huge amount of money for the political parties as they would only pester the licensed voters. The licensed voters on your block would lord it over the unlicensed. Mothers would want their children to not only be doctors and lawyers but also licensed voters.

If you just once worked in an election as a deputy returning officer or poll clerk, you would realize the wisdom of this. If you have looked at what people do to ballots, the scrawled comments, the funny marks, you would understand that exercising the franchise is only one step in the process. You really need to know what you are doing.

Just think of the difference it would make if politicians knew that people were really listening. It might end the simplistic, meaningless slogans. It would mean that politicians would have to learn how to add up their promises. They could actually talk to voters instead of a claque of supporters bussed in for the event to impress the news media. It would produce intelligent questions from an attuned audience.

And, we can start young. It would be a key event with becoming an adult. Like the driver’s licence you got at 16, your voting licence would be the big event of 19. We could also start taking away the licences from the failing minds of seniors who know they have to vote but have forgotten why.

The only problem though is that parties in power such as the Conservatives would try to change the licencing law to ensure that only Conservative voters are licenced. That would certainly simplify things.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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