09 September 2009

Vote? Don't think I'll bother

Such a lot of talk about elections these days. Politicians posturing left and right. Michael Ignatieff suddenly getting all antsy. I should, I suppose, be gearing up to exercise my sacred right to cast a vote. And I would if it would make any difference, but it won't, so I'm not.

I vote in Calgary Centre. Lee Richardson, the Conservative candidate, will win this constituency. He will win with 15-20,000 votes over his nearest opponent. My vote will make absolutely no difference, not in my constituency, not in the overall result of the election. Not one whit. My vote simply won't count. It would if we had a proportional representation voting system. Then it would help elect an MP for the party I support. It would count the same as each and every other voter's. But we don't, and it won't.

I have debated this with a good friend of mine who has seen no point in this futile exercise for some time. I have insisted, with decreasing conviction, that he should vote because after all we are lucky to live in a democracy. I'm afraid this time the conviction has faded away, not enough left to even convince myself to vote.

Democracy is political equality manifested in one citizen/one vote. But when your one vote doesn't count, where's the democracy for you? You've been hustled. I accept my democratic responsibility to attempt to change the system if I don't agree with it. I support Fair Vote Canada, and I pressure my elected representatives to support proportional representation, but progress is glacial. So I've decided not on a protest vote, but on a protest non-vote. Perhaps if enough of those electors whose votes are rendered irrelevant by our corrupt first-past-the-post system stop co-operating with the system, our legislators will take notice and fit democracy into their agendas.

I will continue to vote municipally and provincially. My ward and provincial constituencies are sufficiently competitive that my vote matters. But the idea of voting in the next federal election increasingly makes me feel like I'm participating in a charade, a democratic fraud. So I will not waste my time.


  1. I am with you. I won't be voting in the next federal or provincial elections. I want my vote to count. I want some form of proportional representation. Like you, I won't be participating in Canada's shamocracy.

  2. With your permission, I would like to save the picture of the anti-voting sign and place it on my blog when the next federal or Ontario eleciton takes place.

  3. I'm with you on this one, Bill. I've had some lengthy discussions with friends, and few people seem to see eye to eye on me here, but I've decided I probably won't vote this time around. (If I do, it would likely only be if one of the parties has a firm commitment to introduce proportional representation.)

    I'm not lazy, nor am I indifferent about politics, and---should anyone bring this up---I fully appreciate what our grandparents fought for (which, incidentally, I don't believe was for a system that ignores significantly large segments of the public voice).

    I don't even buy the argument that if everyone who had this sort of sentiment went out and voted, then results would be different. I think the overall percentages would be about the same regardless of the turnout---and the same percentage of votes would be utterly discarded.

    As for the dollar-twenty-whatever that each party gets per vote; I prefer to donate to a party directly---in an amount that's a lot more meaningful to them. (Besides, our government tried to scrap that incentive anyway.)

    After every election, there's a ton of media attention about the abysmally low voter turnout. Contributing to that seems a lot more powerful than actually going out, voting, and having it thrown away. Maybe there'll be some serious discussion about it this time around among the political parties. But until then, I'll just have my voice ignored somewhere more productive and fun than the voting booth.

  4. I agree,Bill. I've lived in a CPC/Alliance/Reform riding for the past eight years and have dutifully gone to the polls to knowingly cast a losing vote, getting one more in for the final tally. This time, however, there's not a leader or a party I'd cross the road to support. For the first time since I became eligible to vote more than four decades ago, I'll be sitting this one out and tuning into some movie or documentary.

  5. I understand your frustration Bill, I agree with your analysis 100%, your vote will not count. Nor will mine, likely, still I will probably continue to vote. But I am done trying to convince people to vote who have chosen to for your reasons. And I think you are growing in number, check out non voters for reform.

    People should also consider vote swapping, which probably can't really sway a result but is a very visible form of voting protest. And if you are voting for a smaller party don't forget they do get some funding for each vote cast in their favour.

  6. Skinny Dipper,

    Help yourself. I just slapped together a couple of graphics from my Microsoft Word clip art file.


  7. Thanks, Bill.

    Just to let everyone know that by not voting, it doesn't mean that the Conservatives will get an easier ride to a majority. In fact, I could be declining my ballot for the Conservatives. I am not a partisan supporter for one political party. I could vote Conservative, Liberal, NDP, or Green if I want. I won't do so in the next election. In fact, I will be calling for a voting boycott when the next election takes place.

  8. You will continue to vote provincially? That makes you in a minority in Alberta.

    How come? Even Elections Alberta knows why: "In an election where there appears to be a clear front runner, electors may be less motivated to vote since the outcome is perceived to be predetermined and their vote may not be needed or may not make a difference."