Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Not voting is part of the problem

I was reading the post Canadian election results on and one of their lead stories was that only 59.1 percent of Canadians voted in the last election: a new record low. One of the first user comments I read I believe is quite telling of this phenomenon, ‘I didn’t vote because there is no difference between the Liberals and the Conservatives, it’s like voting for the worse of two evils’. This of course was met with the standard response, ‘If you don’t vote you can’t complain”, but I don’t think that is a valid retort anymore. What we should say to people who don’t vote is, “If you don’t vote you are part of the problem”! Politicians count on people not voting, they actually want people to not vote, why? Because it makes their job easier, they don’t have to care about as many people and can tailor their message to the fewer number of people that do vote.

Let’s look at some numbers to illustrate my point; the Conservatives won only 37.63 percent of the popular vote, the Liberals 26.24. the NDP 18.20, the Bloc 9.97, and the Greens 6.80. For the time being lets forget about the fact that the Bloc can win 50 seats in the house of commons with only 9.97% of the vote while the Greens get none with 6.80%. I think it’s pretty safe to assume that a good chunk of the 40.9% of people who voted probably wouldn’t have voted Bloc so that leaves the other 4 parties. I could be very wrong in this assumption but I feel that many of the 40.9% probably wouldn’t have voted Conservative, they may not have even voted Liberal, they seem more likely to have voted for a candidate that they knew wouldn’t get in. If either of the two leading parties knew that extra 40.9% was voting they would need to court that share of the vote in order to keep power, they would need to broaden their policies to something more people liked which would effectively make them less evil. So, by not voting you are actually further perpetuating the problem with the system. Working the argument even further, by not voting you are actually hurting the system even more because even parties receives money for each vote they get. This is to give smaller parties a leg up in future elections and help them build a solid base.

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