(AEN) Throughout Canada, voter participation in municipal elections is generally low. It’s lower, in fact, than the turn out in federal or provincial elections and it’s declining, according to a report from the Pembina Institute. The question is, why?
Why don’t people take the opportunity to vote in municipal elections, to help shape their own communities?
There are lots of reasons, but let’s take a closer look at two of the most common.
My one vote won’t make a difference anyway
This is simply not true!
In fact, Municipal Elections are often quite close, with only a few votes separating the winning candidates from the rest of the pack.
In the 2010 municipal elections, Edmonton had a 33.4% voter turn out. The closest race for alderman was decided by 507 votes.
That same year in Leduc, the top two successful candidates were tied and the successful candidate with the lowest number of votes only beat the next candidate by 219 votes.
In Beaumont, only 63 votes separated the last successful candidate from the candidate who was not elected.
In Leduc County, there were 7,395 eligible voters, but only 2,906 cast ballots. In one of County ward, there were three candidates. The winner received 228 votes; the other two candidates received 204 and 155.
When less than half of eligible voters show up at the polling stations, the results don’t truly reflect or represent the citizens of the community.
Consider the real life example of the controversial Downtown Edmonton Arena project. The councillors charged with making that decision were elected by only 33% of eligible voters in Edmonton. Would things have been different if even 60% of voters turned out in 2010?
I don’t care about politics; it doesn’t affect my life
Your municipal officials make decisions about things that directly affect your daily life – garbage collection, roads, economic development, recreation facilities and taxation levels. Everything that goes on in that council room matters to you, your family, your neighbours and your local business community.
If you don’t exercise your right to vote, what right do you then have to complain about what happens in your community?
Voting costs you nothing more than a trip to the polling station.
Not voting could be very costly if you think about the decisions being made by municipal officials you had no say in electing.
Voting is your privilege, your right and your civic duty.
Think of all those who fought long and hard for the chance to vote. What would they have to say to us about how important it is that we take the time to cast our ballot?