Encouraging voters discouraged

It’s on. The race to Canada’s 42nd federal election is officially underway.

It’s on. The race to Canada’s 42nd federal election is officially underway.

Many, we’re sure, are looking forward to casting their vote on Oct. 19. Many more, undoubtedly, are not.  According to Elections Canada, more than 14.8 million people cast a ballot in the 2011 federal election, while 7.5 million did not. That’s more than votes received by any one party, including Harper’s 5.8 million-vote majority.

More than a quarter of those who didn’t vote said they simply weren’t interested. Another 23 per cent said they were too busy, while 7.6 per cent said they didn’t like any of the candidates.

This is a problem. Well, except maybe for the prime minister. Last year, the federal government amended the Elections Act, effectively stripping Elections Canada of its ability to promote voting. The sections removed from the act had authorized the chief electoral officer to “make the electoral process better known to the public, particularly to those persons and groups most likely to experience difficulties in exercising their democratic rights.”

This amendment, according to Conservative Minister of Democratic Reform Pierre Poilievre, was based on his party’s belief political candidates are better at inspiring voting than bureaucracies.

Based on the prominent percentage of eligible voters who didn’t cast a ballot in 2011, it’s arguable neither Elections Canada nor candidates did a good job of inspiring the electorate.

It is likely the early election start, with 78 days of campaigning instead of the more usual 36, will only end up putting off more potential voters.

There appears to be a pattern here.


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