I’ve been racking my brains trying to come up with passionate and powerful reasons to make sure you are compelled to get out and cast your ballot in the municipal elections this Saturday, Nov. 19.
But to be honest, I have nothing you probably haven’t heard before.
• Voting is critical to the democratic system. A democratic community can only survive if its citizens see participation in the political process as a duty and a responsibility.
• People have laid down their lives so you have the right to help choose your leaders. There’s another alternative to democracy – it’s called dictatorship.
• Voting connects citizens with their political process. The simple act of marking a ballot tells our leaders what we think about decisions that affect our lives, such as how much taxation we think is fair or what issues we think are most important.
I may be preaching to the converted anyway, as studies have shown that people who read newspapers regularly are also much more likely to head to the polls.
So for those of you who already planned to vote, make it your mission to push, pull or drag a friend out to the polling station. Voter turnout in municipal elections across the province is historically low, with roughly two-thirds of voters not bothering to mark their X. Young people are notoriously lax when it comes to voting, so if you can grab someone under 35 all the better.
The polls are open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday at three polling stations: the Salmon Arm Savings and Credit Union Recreation Centre, North Canoe Community Hall and Gleneden Hall. Any eligible voter can vote at whichever location they choose.
There is no need to preregister to vote; however, you must have resided in B.C. for at least six months and have owned property or have resided in the City of Salmon Arm for 30 days.
Two pieces of identification are required, which will prove both residency and identity, but picture identification is not necessary.
Keep in mind, while you can cast your vote for six councillors, you are not obliged to vote for that many. While the electronic voting resembles those “bubble tests” you used to take in high school, the preferred method of voting is not to close your eyes, spin your pencil over the paper and fill in whatever circle your point hits just to make six marks on the paper. If you only feel comfortable voting for three candidates, that is entirely up to you.
To reiterate: Vote this Saturday. Bring a friend. Bring ID.
And for the latest news on who gets elected, check out our website at www.saobserver.net. We will post results as soon as they are issued Saturday night which, thanks to electronic voting, should be before 9 p.m.