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 email@example.com.