The 47% Solution

by matttbastard

So 52.6% of eligible voters decide to cast ballots; only 39% choose to even touch the question of electoral reform (rejecting it with 63% of ’em aginnit). The Liberals are awarded a ‘historic’ majority because 65% of said 52.6% thought John Tory was the engineer of a big Blue train wreck and were loathe to give him the opportunity to derail the entire province (Howard who?) Oh, and the Greens receive 8%, nearly tripling their share of the popular vote in 2003 — and getting zero seats in return.

Bottom line: almost half the electorate had better things to do.

Tell me again how the status quo is just hunky dory?

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2 thoughts on “The 47% Solution

  1. Yesterday was the most depressing voting experience of my life.

    I live in a high rise condo with a very aged population. Our building had its very own polling station this year. All of the aged residents dutifully went down to the polling station and dutifully stood in line. Then the fun started.

    “Name?” “Charles. C-H-A…” “That’s okay. Last name?” “Albright. A-L- …” “Please stop spelling.” You could tell this guy had been dealing with it all day.

    Now the ballots are handed out. Oh no! There are two ballots! This sends a lot of them to near hysteria. So the poor polling officer directs them to a poster on the wall. I saw a woman walk over, lean in real close, and squint earnestly at the Monet print hanging beside the poster. At this point I’m thinking, no, this is not democracy, this must be a movie. That doesn’t happen in real life.

    Realizing that this woman was utterly blind, the poor voting officer walks over and starts to read the poster. He explains that we’re choosing between two systems. As he’s explaining that the first option is to keep the system we have, you can hear the dread growing in his voice. He knows what’s coming. “Or, we can choose the alternative electoral system proposed by the Citizens’ Assembly (Mixed Member Proportional).” The awkward and unintelligible phrase falls to the ground with a clatter.

    The woman shrieks. She believes she will GO TO HELL (I guess) if she does not vote, but she has no idea what she’s voting on. Very little information can now penetrate her panic. The poor polling officer says, “It’s basically like this: we can keep things the same as they are now, or we can change them.” And that’s the question she voted on. I’m pretty sure I know how she voted.

    This is going on everywhere in the room. The old folks don’t really get the security measures, the little yellow line is just decor. Couples register together, and then try to vote together. One woman is demanding a new ballot. “Yes, I understand the referendum. I’m supposed to be voting on the candidate and the party on it.”

    This is all true. The only thing I changed was Charles Albright’s name. I’m not trying to make fun of these people.

    Normally to vote, I walk up a hill to a church, and up the church’s steep stairs. Half of my building wouldn’t have made that difficult journey. This year the polling station was an elevator ride away. Next year, let’s HIDE all the polling stations really carefully, so that only the truly motivated can vote.

    Also, if you’re 18 years old, please vote. It does not matter if you are not informed. It does not matter if you don’t know the candidates. Just vote however you think an 18 year old is expected to vote. It grieves me to say it, but after yesterday I’m convinced it’s the right thing.

    I don’t think our vote counting system really reflects the stochastic nature of voting. Here’s my proposal for reform: All the ballots for a riding are brought to the same place and shaken up real well. Then someone reaches in and takes one out. Whoever is marked won the election.

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  2. I think that some kind of election reform is inevitable, regardless of how many people voted against it in the recent referendum.

    Voter apathy can have two meanings these days. The classic definition is of those people who simply don’t leave the house on election day, complaining that they don’t like any of the candidates or that their vote doesn’t matter. Said apathy is shared by those people who do in fact vote, but vote for the weirdest reasons possible. “I went to high school with Dalton McGuinty.” “I just think that the Liberals have done a wonderful job.” “My father, his father and his father before him voted Conservative, so I’ve always voted Conservative.” Not a lot of thought process to it–I wonder how many of those people brought the Liberals back to a “sweeping majority”.

    I have a somewhat utopian (read: idealistic) idea that will both eliminate voter apathy and bring back the concept of good government:

    1. Start having referendums on any important idea that would affect Canadians as a population. Want to go bomb some third world country in the name of “peacekeeping”? Have a referendum. This will get the general population to believe that their vote counts for something more than deciding who is going to be paid more in the office for the next four years.

    2) Revert to a unicameral legislature. Get rid of the parties. On election day, say four or five people run for office. Let’s hear ideas, not platforms or promises, and let’s be able to vote on who we feel will best represent the interests of that particular riding without being blindsided by red/blue/orange/green. This will eliminate those people who vote simply because their parents supported the same party, without having a clue about any of the issues at hand.

    3) When the elected government goes to form a cabinet, I want to see credentials. Remember Mike Harris, the person who decided that education budgets were the most expendable? Does anybody know or remember that he was once a teacher and was _fired_? If you’re going to appoint a Minister of Education, I want that person to have some background in education. Minister of Finance? Was he ever an accountant? Can the Minister of Justice please be someone with even a smidgen of background in law?

    After all of this, if you still think that all of the candidates in your riding are useless idiots who can’t possibly represent your interests, we do have one provision in election law that says you can refuse your ballot. Take it, thank the poor soul, hand it back to them and say “I refuse my ballot.” This must be recorded, so in essence, it is a vote of dissatisfaction.

    I wonder what the general picture would look like if the 47% who did not vote got out of bed and did this?

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