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The Weather Network
Nov. 12, 2019 | Tuesday
Editorials and Opinions
Editorial: Voter turnout needs a boost
Only 60 per cent of eligible voters cast ballots Monday.

Congratulations to all seven people who opted to run as candidates in the riding of Niagara Falls.

Choosing to put yourself out there for all to see – and, ultimately, for the voters to judge – requires courage, not to mention the toll it takes on the individual and their families.

So kudos to Tony Baldinelli, our riding’s new Conservative member of Parliament, Brian Barker (NDP), Andrea Kaiser (Liberal), Sandra O’Connor (Green), Tricia O’Connor (Christian Heritage), Mike Strange (independent) and Alexander Taylor (People’s Party).

The Greens doubled both their vote and their share of the popular vote (almost 5 per cent). And Strange, a popular Niagara Falls councillor, might have been the difference-maker in this riding, scooping almost 5,000 votes and 7.2 per cent of the total. Who knows where those votes might have gone otherwise?

Looking ahead, for those not from Niagara Falls or not directly involved with the Conservative party, which our new MP has been active with for many years, Baldinelli might be a bit of an unknown quantity. He’s young and energetic and we look forward to what he will do for our riding.

We trust that in his capacity as the new MP for Niagara-on-the-Lake, Fort Erie and Niagara Falls, he will make every effort to get to know the people in all three municipalities. Maybe we even will see a part-time satellite constituency office established in NOTL.

Congratulations, also, to the 60 per cent of electors who took the time to cast ballots and have their say in the ultimate democratic process.

As for the other 40 per cent who did not vote, we really have to wonder, why not? This was one of the most contentious and polarizing federal elections in recent memory and it was disappointing to see that voter turnout in our riding actually dropped.

In 2015, 63 per cent of electors went to the polls. This year, with almost 10,000 more eligible voters, only 60 per cent of people cast ballots.

Perhaps electoral reform is in order. Not some kind of the complex, hard to fathom, weighted ballot system of proportional representation, but mandatory voting by all those eligible. As is done in Belgium and Australia, for example. There, it’s the law.

Mandatory voting is not a new concept. Those two countries have forced people to vote for decades.

The penalties for not showing up at the polls are not onerous, but the idea that you are expected to participate in the democratic process is embraced by the people of those two nations. In Australia, of course, an election is an excuse for a big party.

Imagine what our own democracy would look like if we had more than 90 per cent of voters turn out, as happens in Australia. That’s the type of participatory democracy we could vote for.

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