All the media outlets seem to be celebrating a 68.5% voter turnout in this federal election, much better than the last election at 61.1%, the highest since October, 1993 when it was 69.6%. But before we give ourselves a hearty pat on the back for our enthusiasm, it should be pointed out that this was the 45th Canadian federal election and of those 26 drew over 70% turnout and 9 of them managed over 75%. The highest was in March of 1958 when 79.4% of eligible voters turned out to re-elect Conservative John Diefenbaker to the Prime Minister’s Office.
But the media seem very impressed with this election’s disgraceful numbers in spite of the fact that it means 31.5% of eligible voters couldn’t be bothered. I don’t know what excuses they may have concocted but, with plenty of advance polls, a legal three-hour voting window, and voting by mail, it’s a stretch that anyone would come up with a convincing one. No choice isn’t a reason – you can always vote for the least objectionable. I know that doesn’t sit well with some, but surely if the choice was being hit with a hammer twice, three times or four, they’d choose.
Next time, let’s get that number up to a truly respectable 90% at least. There is no privilege and right so great as voting in a democracy. If you can’t be bothered to do such a simple thing, you have no right to complain because you’ve essentially tacitly agreed to go along with the majority of those who could be bothered.
Some of the same people who couldn’t be bothered to vote are no doubt supporters of sending soldiers to die in foreign land to fight for democracy. I don’t understand why they don’t see the irony of that when they have so little regard for democracy at home.
When I was part of a citizenship ceremony only a few days before the election, a number of the brand new citizens told me they couldn’t wait to go get registered so that they could vote. At least they were happy to get the right.