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EDITORIAL – Modern version of advance voting does no good for democracy

(Image: Mel Rothenburger)

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

VOTING IS WELL UNDERWAY in the federal election, thanks to four days of advance voting over the long weekend.

Turnout in the advance vote was trending higher than in 2015, which means well over three million Canadians likely voted a full week ahead of the Oct. 21 General Election Day.

I wonder, though, whether all this advance voting is such a good thing. It doesn’t necessarily mean more people overall will vote, only that more people are voting sooner than later.

A lot can happen in the last week of a campaign. Anyone who voted this past weekend did so without the benefit of any further policy announcements, gaffs by leaders or last-minute revelations about candidates.

That’s why I wasn’t one of those millions who voted over the weekend. I prefer to witness the entire campaign before marking my ballot.

Not that it wouldn’t have been easier to vote in advance. In federal elections, on general election day you have to vote in your assigned polling station which, in my case, means a drive several miles north from where I live. If I’d voted ahead of time, I could have done it at the advance station on my way into town.

In the old days, you had to provide an excuse — such as being out of the country or undergoing surgery on election day — for voting in advance. Now, it’s simply a matter of convenience and inclination.

Splitting voters into two categories — one informed by the full campaign and one not — isn’t great for democracy. Why not keep advance voting but schedule it for two or three days immediately ahead of general election day or, better yet, for two or three days after, when the campaign is over.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and newspaper editor. He writes five commentaries a week for CFJC Today, publishes the ArmchairMayor.ca opinion website, and is a director on the Thompson-Nicola Regional District board. He can be reached at mrothenburger@armchairmayor.ca.

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About Mel Rothenburger (6978 Articles)
ArmchairMayor.ca is a forum about Kamloops and the world. It has more than one million views. Mel Rothenburger is the former Editor of The Daily News in Kamloops, B.C. (retiring in 2012), and past mayor of Kamloops (1999-2005). At ArmchairMayor.ca he is the publisher, editor, news editor, city editor, reporter, webmaster, and just about anything else you can think of. He is grateful for the contributions of several local columnists. This blog doesn't require a subscription but gratefully accepts donations to help defray costs.

3 Comments on EDITORIAL – Modern version of advance voting does no good for democracy

  1. Don Drysdale // October 16, 2019 at 8:58 AM // Reply

    So you want to listen to another week of talking points with no substance or relativity. The actual issues were never addressed so I vote early and then I can turn out all the political B/S for the next week.

  2. You have some good points to consider.
    It would be interesting to be able to see the demographics of the advance poll. Some “new” Canadians were interviewed; they were thrilled to exercise their freedom in democracy.
    Would some of the more mature voters have already decided they wanted nothing more to do with another 4 years with the same Prime Minister? That may have automatically ruled out one of the local candidates regardless of the riding.
    Based on the assumption that a lot of campaign promises are never kept, it might not have been a big factor to wait and see what promises came out in the last week of the campaign.
    Nevertheless, the local results will be of greatest interest to me. That doesn’t mean to say I’m not interested in which people will be burying the hatchets first to make sure they come on board with a partner’s voice in a coalition minority government.

  3. The last week is the golden week for an electoral campaign? I can even fathom…
    There has been more than enough theatre and more than enough precedents to know a month ago who to chose. It is only a matter of squeezing the nostrils…
    But a parting thought I will give regarding the previous federal election. Mr. Steve Powrie was such a perfect choice it made voting day a great pleasure.

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