Election after election, we hear the same message: get out and cast your vote.
In recent decades, voter turnout for national elections has been down to less than two-thirds. That’s pretty abysmal, but voter turnout for municipal elections can be half that again.
In the 2014 municipal election, Penticton only saw 33.1 per cent of eligible voters make it to the polls.
Some would no doubt claim that’s because of the long lineups at the polling station last time, but unfortunately, Penticton is not unique in low turnout. Some places, like the Village of Slocan with 212 voters, saw better than 70 per cent turnout, but the majority saw less than 50 per cent of voters cast a ballot.
It’s not a new problem. In ancient Athens, the cradle of democracy, slaves were sent out to round up anyone who didn’t willingly come to the town meeting.
The question is, why don’t people want to vote? Certainly, there are a lot of people happy to air their opinion about anything political, but when it comes down to casting a ballot, they pull up short.
It’s not fun, but neither is it painful. Waiting in a long lineup can be annoying, but there are alternatives, like advance polling days.
It may just be because people don’t drive any direct benefit from voting. Sure, there is some satisfaction from being part of the process, but other than that, the benefits are neither obvious or quick in coming.
Like many aspects of our life, voting hasn’t changed much over the years, despite the massive change in people’s lifestyles, technology and information processing.
It’s time we took a look at the whole election and voting system and reworked it to reflect changes in society and technology.