To Vote or Not to Vote: Is That Even a Question?

In my house we watch elections like most Canadians watch hockey. We have multiple websites streaming news, and various forms of social media open and running. We yell at the screens and write indignant or celebratory posts on Facebook and Twitter. Why do we do this? We happen to be a family that actually believes these things matter. (Plus, since we don’t watch hockey, we need something to get excited about.)

voteWe have a local election coming up, so I will be watching debates and reading candidate profiles and their responses to questions in the paper. We have a large number of people to choose: city councillor, mayor, regional chair, regional councillors, and school board trustees. That means there is a plethora of ugly signs adorning the streets of our community (for the record, I really wish we could eliminate election signs altogether).

I just found out yesterday that we typically get a municipal election turnout of something like 20-30%. Unbelievable! I’m amazed at the number of people who can’t be bothered to learn anything about candidates or important issues.

So, why put this all on a blog about children, nature and community? Let me say this again: “I BELIEVE ELECTIONS MATTER!” Our elected representatives make decisions about schools, parks, neighbourhoods, programs, healthcare, planning, the environment … the list is really quite long, so let’s just stop there for now. It’s probably safe to say you care about at least one of these things. I serve on an advisory committee for the city, and through that process, I get to watch the direct influence these people have over our community’s well-being.

Yes, you can easily be jaded by the system. Yes, there are problems with how our government works. No, you will not always agree with your favourite candidate’s decisions. Yes, government can move slower than a geriatric snail. But, at least we get the opportunity to have a say. That certainly isn’t the case everywhere. There are also plenty of other ways to get involved in municipal politics. There are committees to join, surveys to answer and public consultations to attend. Heck, if you’re so inclined (and have a thick skin), you can even run for office.

When1 I vote, I really like to bring my children along. I want them to believe that elections matter too. I want them to feel that they have the opportunity to make a difference; that every voice counts. (However, last election, I did have a seriously disappointed 2 year old when he found out we were going to VOTE, rather than on a BOAT (which is what he thought he heard)).

Anyhow, if you are one of those people who can’t be bothered to cast your vote, I urge you to think again. ELECTIONS MATTER. (Plus, you still have time to learn about the issues. The election isn’t until the end of the month.)

Rant over.

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