If you don’t know, don’t!

It has always been grating on election day hearing radio announcers telling their listeners to get out and vote. They actually say if you do not know who to vote for, vote anyway. Why?

Why would you want to go to vote against what your neighbours had thought about and maybe struggled over the decision? You would not believe the number of times when at the polls on election day, voters have come to vote and asked who is running for what party?

I have always wished there was some way to qualify voters and make sure they at least know who they want to vote for when they come to the polls.

I was asking someone from a local campaign office yesterday why nobody had called or, at least dropped literature for the candidate, at my apartment building. The answer I got back was that it was rated as a low-turnout poll and had probably been dropped in favour of more effort in another area.

I remember years ago, there was a bye-election in one of Toronto’s poorest areas and I was given a low-turnout poll that the NDP had won in the previous election with 42 votes. By practically living in the poll for the next three weeks, I got to know most of the voters on a first name basis. I more than doubled the vote in the poll and beat the NDP by two votes.

There is no such thing as a low-turnout poll. There are only polls that have not been worked properly.

One of the great disappointments I have had here in Barrie is the insular nature of this town. Part of it is the fact that it serves, in part, as a bedroom community for the Greater Toronto Area. When people only have weekends to look around where they live, it is hard to build community spirit. And in today’s Internet and smart phone era, extended family can replace community.

Politics has also changed and not for the better. Leader-down, politics is breaking down the community’s ability to come together in supporting local candidates. First, you have to pick your candidate far enough ahead of an election to give the him or her time to build a base. It is also critical that local candidates and party supporters have a say in policy development. This leader-centric party system we have been struggling with does not work.

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Copyright 2018 © Peter Lowry

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