Why would you force people to vote?

It is one of those silly ideas that surface every once in a while. Someone notices how low the turnout of voters is at elections. They get all concerned and say, “We must get more people to vote.” Why?

Some even suggest that there should be fines for people who do not make it to the polls. Do you really want people to go and take their pique out on the politicians? ‘Leave sleeping dogs lie’ is more than just an aphorism. It is good advice. It can save people from being bitten.

There is the story from many years ago when a speaker on politics gave a spirited defence for having stupid members of parliament. His argument was that stupid Canadians also deserve representation in parliament. Please be assured that there is no lack of stupid members of our parliament. In fact, lately, there has been something of a surfeit.

And when you compare figures between Canada and the United States, Canadians are hardly as reluctant to vote as Americans. Judging by what you hear from American politicians these days, that is hardly surprising. The quality of American politics has gone a long way down hill from the hopes of the nation’s founding fathers.

The facts are that it is the inability of our politicians to inspire and motivate that is really abysmal in both countries. You see the worst of this in municipal politics. Here in Babel, the civil servants who run the municipal elections could not handle the crowds if more than 50 per cent of the voters bothered to vote. Mind you the biggest problem in municipal elections is for the citizen to a) find out what ward they are in, b) what positions and people they might like to vote for or against, c) at what times and d) where can they vote?

Everyone is waiting to see if the new Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau can motivate more of our youth to vote in next year’s federal election. Even then, the key question is whether the candidates that he allows to run as Liberals can motivate enough workers to get people out to vote for the Liberals and their leader.

Mind you maybe the Conservative Party has some new tricks up their sleeves on vote suppression. It was actually the 2008 federal election when total voter turnout was less than 60 per cent. The turnout during the Robocall incidents in the 2011 federal election saw an increase in voting to just over 62 per cent. That is a far cry from the over 80 per cent figures we got in federal elections in the 1900s.

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Copyright 2014 © Peter Lowry

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