A reader sent me some literature from Fair Vote Canada the other day. This piece was complaining about the number of Canadians who did not vote in the recent federal election. I am not sure what they are complaining about. In our electoral system, people have as much right not to vote as they do to vote. It’s a statement in itself.
Of course, there are many reasons for someone not voting. If they died, they really should be excused. If they were sick and went to the hospital instead of the polling place, they might be excused. We need not list the millions of reasons for millions of people to fail to vote.
But I hardly think imploring people to get out and vote, without considering their wishes in the matter, is a good idea. It does seem ridiculous, for example, to beg people to get out and vote when they might have absolutely no idea what the election is about and no knowledge of the people on the ballot. Why would you want people to vote stupid? That will happen anyway.
Major political parties all have their ‘Get Out the Vote’ (GOV) program for when the advance polls and regular polls are open. Instead of the olden-days solution of bribes, today we use persuasion. We either phone or send someone to the door of people friendly to our party, to urge them to come out to vote. We offer them transportation, baby sitting, whatever is needed to encourage them.
But obviously, we do try to restrict this effort to people whom we think will vote for our candidate. We try to be practical. It takes people power and organizational effort to mount an effective GOV program in every electoral district. When you lose a riding by less than 100 votes, you know your GOV activities were not good enough.
And when you see a riding wherein the three major political parties are all working hard on their GOV effort, you know it will be a close race.
When you think about it, if Justin Trudeau had just spent more effort in building the membership of the liberal party, instead of just asking liberals for money, he might have had a GOV effort that could have given his party, at least 12 more seats—and a majority government.
Copyright 2021 © Peter Lowry
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