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Monday, September 5, 2011

The Need for Mandatory Voting

A dismal 60% of Canadians showed up to vote in Canada’s most recent federal election. There were millions upon millions of Canadians who were eligible to vote – eligible to give their mandate to the government – who failed to show up.

It certainly cannot be said Canadians didn’t have enough time to vote. There were three days of advance polls, and each day the polls were open from 12:00pm to 8:00pm. On Election Day the polls were open for 12 hours.

Elections Canada also had extensive information available online to figure out where and when to vote. Employers even have the legal requirement to allow employees to leave work to go vote. Unless someone was on their death bed I do not see any plausible excuse.

That’s not acceptable to me.

Many leftists have said this demonstrates the inherent flaw with our first-past-the-post system: that the system is broken, since a majority Conservative government got in with only 40% of Canadians who bothered to vote voting Conservative. They say this means 60% of Canadians didn’t vote Conservative.

Although that’s true, it’s more accurate that 40% Conservative support is larger than 30% NDP support.
What Canada needs is compulsory voting. Take 10 minutes out of your day to go and vote, or face the consequences. This should mean a fine.

Let’s go through just a few of the reasons why compulsory voting is a good idea:

Civic responsibility: we always hear of this term, but what does it mean? It means a commitment to our fellow Canadians to work together and help one another. I expressed the essential nature of voting in a previous article, “The Importance of Voting.” It is clear from that article that voting is an essential commitment to your fellow Canadian, just as it is a civic responsibility to help a fellow human being dying on the side of the street. Not voting not only hurts yourself, but everyone else who is given a government on the basis of other people not voting.

Majority math: if a government is going to win it should do so with the largest amount of support from all Canadians. That support does not necessarily need to be over 50% of the total vote, but it should at least come from over 90% of eligible voters turning out to vote.

Increased research: although studies have demonstrated differing results on people becoming informed if they’re forced to vote, I believe if people are forced to vote they will educate themselves on their local candidates, what they stand for, where to vote, and so on. We already see this in several forms throughout society: if I want my driver’s licence I’m going to study. Not studying will result in a punishment: not having a licence and wasting money. The same principle applies, although we will always have a few ignorant people who vote based on the colour of the party and not that party’s principles.

Vote or Stay Quiet: if you’ve voted you have contributed to electing your local Member of Parliament and your national government. That vote in effect gives you the right to lobby that MP and that government, both positively and negatively. That vote allows you to say “hey, I voted for you, and I don’t like what you’re doing” as well as “keep up the great work!” Don’t want to vote? Then your complaints mean nothing.

Government revenues: horrible to say, but effective none the less – fines make money. Let’s say 10 million people were eligible to vote but didn’t, and they didn’t have an excuse. Let’s also say this deplorable behaviour warrants a $150 fine. Our government would have $1.50 Billion of revenues they didn’t before. Although peanuts to the overall multi-billion dollar budget, the important point is that Canadians who had to choose between voting or paying $150 would usually choose voting.

There are even more reasons out there, but you shouldn’t need convincing. After all, you’ve read this article, so you’re already interested in some form. True success would be passing this article and its message on to five or 10 other people, especially if they have not ever voted or only vote in some elections.

Canada now has a majority government that can get things done without the opposition interfering. We already know many of this government’s priorities; mandatory voting also needs to be one of them.