Tuesday, October 19, 2010


There are a few things in life that really get me worked up and upset. One of the major ones is politics. Now I’m not talking about bad policies versus good policies or right versus left, Conservatives versus Liberals or Democrats versus Republicans or even the fact that many of those elected to public office have very little idea how the ‘real people’ live. My issue (today, anyway) is completely based on Voter Turnout.

I live in the capital city of Alberta (and no, it isn’t Calgary). I have lived in Alberta my entire life. Alberta became a province in 1905 and Edmonton was named the capital immediately. Edmonton was incorporated as a city a year before in 1904 and it is speculated that people have been living in Edmonton since 3000 BC.

And perhaps those first inhabitants had more sense than those living here today.

Ok, I’ll get to my point.

Yesterday marked the day of the Civic Election – the day when all (of age, eligible) Edmontonians have the right to vote. The right to vote.

I was asked if I supported the Public of Separate school board, if I was of eligible age, a citizen of Canada and that I’d lived in Alberta for the six months prior to Election Day. I handed them my Driver’s license and signed my form. I was then handed the ballot and sent on my way to the voting both.

From the time we parked our car until we returned to it about eight minutes had passed.

Eight minutes of my life. I spent longer waiting in line for a coffee earlier that afternoon.

Oh right my point.

The turnout for this election was a dismal 34.3%. Edmonton had a total of 573,104 eligible voters but only 196,661 of them cast ballots. Granted this was an increase over the 27.26% turnout in the 2007 election but it is still pathetic.

And I don’t understand why. I don’t – I can’t get it. I’ve voted in every election I’ve been eligible to vote in. I voted when I was 9 months pregnant, I voted a few days after surgery, I voted in Advanced Poles because I was going to be away on vacation. It’s easy, it’s simple and it is a right – a privilege. People (speaking generally) always express shock and dismay when non-democratic nations have coupes and militant groups rise to power and commit heinous acts and genocide but when given the chance to have their say, they’d rather stay home and watch TV. I know many who hide behind “Oh I don’t know who to vote for…” or the “I don’t care” position but rest assured they will certainly complain when their sidewalks crumble and the property taxes are increased. I’ve heard the “it’s only a Civic election” argument and how their one vote doesn’t make a difference.

But every vote makes a difference – even if the Nominee you support doesn’t “win”. It’s about taking advantage of the choice, the option and the possibility to make change. It’s standing up and being counted and it’s about having your say. It is about taking advantage of the path forged forward by many who came before us so we all have the same rights and freedoms.

I’m saddened by the turnout. Disappointed beyond belief (although not quite as disappointed as I was after the last Provincial election but that’s because of the 41% turnout and the ability of 52% of the 41% being about to elect a majority government). Even a little bit disgusted with my fellow citizens.

I don’t always love the democratic process but I love that I have the choice. Don’t you?

Statistics provided by the City of Edmonton

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