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EDITORIAL – Making civic voting too easy might be bad for democracy

An editorial by Mel Rothenburger.

IT’S GETTING EASIER and easier to vote. With two months to go before this year’s civic elections, voters have to begin keeping an eye on candidates and listening to what they say.

Many, of course, won’t put much thought into it until they step up to the voting booth on Oct. 15. Most won’t bother to vote at all.

Poor turnouts at civic elections are the reason the powers that be keep coming up with new ways to encourage voting. Four years ago, barely 30 per cent of eligible voters in Kamloops cast ballots. In the Thompson-Nicola Regional District, the number was even worse — 25 per cent.

Yet, registering to vote is easier than ever — many municipalities don’t bother with voters’ lists anymore, instead simply signing up voters at polling stations. Additional polling stations are often set up to simplify access.

In Kamloops, a polling station will be added for advance voting days, and the number of advance voting days has been increased in recent elections. Anyone may now make use of those extra days.

Now you don’t even have to go out to vote — you can use a mail-in ballot. Special voting opportunities are set up for those otherwise unable to get to a polling station.

While Internet and phone voting isn’t yet used in B.C., that’s probably coming.

I’d like to see a study on whether these expanded voting options have done anything to convince people who wouldn’t have otherwise voted, to vote, because so far turnout numbers don’t show it.

I’d also like to know whether making voting easier actually attracts voters who don’t know who they’re voting for. In other words, does it increase the percentage of ignorant vs. informed voters?

Uninformed voting erodes democracy. Voters who don’t know the candidates or their platforms, or civic issues, should not exercise their franchise. Leave democracy to the rest, even if the turnout isn’t stellar.

I’m Mel Rothenburger, the Armchair Mayor.

Mel Rothenburger is a former mayor of Kamloops and a retired newspaper editor. He is a regular contributor to 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.

About Mel Rothenburger (9122 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.

1 Comment on EDITORIAL – Making civic voting too easy might be bad for democracy

  1. What about those “uninformed” politicians pretending to be in a position to make good decisions? Are they truly the cause of the apathy? Uninformed voters do vote, it is their democratic right. Perhaps the problem is too much democracy?

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