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Bad officials are elected by good citizens who don't vote
March 5, 2008 8:11 PM   Subscribe

Alberta voted on March 3, 2008. Or did it? The record low turnout of 41.3% is causing questions to be asked.

Declining voter turnout is not new in Canada. Elections Canada has studied the reasons behind it(full study indexed here), showing that many factors play a role in the decision not to vote. Is it time to explore the Australian solution?(pdf)

In the meantime, American primaries are breaking records for voter turnout, showing that the trend can be overcome.
posted by never used baby shoes (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I think that compulsory voting is so important. How can one be critical of the government when one doesn't vote?

Election time should be a national conversation.

The previous conservative government in Australia were inching toward changing the law. I wouldn't have been surprised if they enacted non compulsory voting had they won. It would have been dressed up as "more choice for us"

Their track record wasn't great.

Decreased reporting threshold of political donations from $10000 to $1500

Closed the roll on the day the election is called, not two weeks beforehand, thus disenfranchising as many young people as possible.
posted by mattoxic at 8:20 PM on March 5, 2008


Someone once said of former opposition leader Stockwell Day when asked about his experience as Alberta's finance minister said "a monkey with an abacus could balance Alberta's budget with oil at $30 a barrel." I guess Albertans aren't interested in changing monkeys in mid-stream.
posted by Space Coyote at 8:30 PM on March 5, 2008 [2 favorites]


Canadian politics is horribly corrupt. But on the other hand there are exactly two electable political stances. Very slightly left of left-center, and very slightly right of left-center. There are pockets of extremism here and there in Canada but it's just amazing how basically liberal people are here. I say that living in a very church-going, rural, farming, Conservative-voting riding.

The big gainers round here are Greens. At some point there is going to be a big Green takeover in Canada because it's a way for people to reject the basically identical Tories/Liberals while still remaining basically centrist and also true to what many people perceive as Canada's natural identity. You can see it building up where I live.

I've live through enough administrations in enough countries to know that low turnout happens when most people are doing okay. You get record turnouts when it's time to kick someone out, eg Maggie or GWB.

The moral is that boring politics is generally a good sign, even though it may suck both as a spectator sport and from the point of view of people whose political views fall outside the narrow band of centrism.
posted by unSane at 8:34 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


compulsory voting voting?

agghhh - it's bad enough as it is without forcing all the cretins to get out and vote against their will

you fail to vote, don't complain when you get screwed by the government
posted by caddis at 8:44 PM on March 5, 2008


oh, and when whole groups of people are too apathetic to vote, then who cares when they get screwed?
posted by caddis at 8:46 PM on March 5, 2008


agghhh - it's bad enough as it is without forcing all the cretins to get out and vote against their will

Who's the worse cretin, those who don't bother going out to vote, or those who all go out and vote on mass because someone told them God wants them to vote a certain way?

Forcing the apathetic cretins to vote as a great way to neutralize the effect of the extremist cretins.
posted by Jimbob at 8:50 PM on March 5, 2008


I've been thinking about the compulsory thing for a bit, ever since my friends returned from Brazil where it is apparently mandatory. (according to what they saw, as american tourists) If you didn't show up to vote that year, you can't get your college loan, your license renewed, etc. (or without considerable paperwork). Also, it is a national holiday. Everyone gets the day off to vote, and is given the chance to.

Compare that to the US where it is a pain in the ass to vote (except in washington state, where we have mail in ballots for everything apparently), most workplaces, especially those that employ the lower/middle class workers, may not give people the day off or they have to take vacation or sick leave. Or they just can't afford to not miss a day. Combine that with the new fangled voting machines operated by retiree's that haven't a clue on how to fix them if they go down.

Of course, the downside is the person who is compelled to vote because they wont be able to get their drivers license renewed will probably vote for the incumbant power because that is the most familiar name to them, especially if they haven't been screwed over by them directly in recent memory. Now if you make it so you just have to *show up* at the polling station, then you can go in and vote, or decline to vote, etc. that might work.

Or just make it so you save on your taxes. That would be easy to pass through legislature, since well, the people who would vote would do it to save 1%.You could make it a referendum for each year actually, it never has to pass, but it would make people who normally don't vote, to vote against it so they don't get penalized for not voting.
posted by mrzarquon at 9:01 PM on March 5, 2008


At some point there is going to be a big Green takeover in Canada

Don't think so. I lived in the epicenter of the Greenest riding in Canada (Sidney, in Saanich and the Islands) for three years and the Greens never had a chance. For one thing, there is too much infighting. For another, they're too cosy with the Liberals. Third, the Liberals are stealing their policies. Fourth, the Greens have no coherent policies. Are they lefty? Check out their immigration policies. Are they rightwing? Check out their tax regimes. Are they Green? Well, they do advocate changing lightbulbs.

The Greens are the kooks of Canadian politics, little better than the Canadian Action Party.
posted by KokuRyu at 9:02 PM on March 5, 2008


Speaking as someone who voted in the Alberta election, AND had a tough time finding anyone else who did:

Democracy, you don't get the best government, but you do get the government you deserve.
posted by blue_beetle at 9:06 PM on March 5, 2008


I don't know when you had dealings with the Greens, KokuRyu, but they came second here in the last election and they are going to win the next one. This is a Tory riding where the Liberals don't have a chance.
posted by unSane at 9:10 PM on March 5, 2008


Switch to a form of proportional representation and then maybe I'll come out to vote.
posted by mazola at 9:11 PM on March 5, 2008


Liberals won the three Calgary central city ridings: Buffalo, Mountain View, and my riding, Currie. I'm actually seeing the glass as half full right now.

When my partner and I went to vote (Bankview Community Centre), we were the only ones there younger than, say, 80. And those old timers don't just vote- they remember the NEP, which sucks for the liberals (even if they have no connection to federal Grits or, of course, to PET).
posted by ethnomethodologist at 9:21 PM on March 5, 2008


Alberta - the only province where the incumbent from a party that's been in power for 37 years (who himself has been part of the cabinet) can run on a platform of change.

And win.
posted by sauril at 9:22 PM on March 5, 2008


Canadian politics is too boring. I suggest Canadian politicians start bribing each other, preferably with hookers.
posted by delmoi at 9:24 PM on March 5, 2008


saanich-gulf islands is not a green riding. it's all monied old people money who are afraid of the homeless.
posted by klanawa at 9:49 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


If voting could make a difference, it would be illegal. If not voting could make a difference, it would also be illegal. Oh Canada, you so crazy.
posted by allen.spaulding at 9:54 PM on March 5, 2008


delmoi: Hookers? Canadian politicians bribe each other with life insurance policies. (Allegedly)

And ethnomethodologist, don't forget Calgary-Varsity!
posted by Old Man Wilson at 9:59 PM on March 5, 2008


From Dave Barry's year in review, 1993:
"June 15: Canada elects a new prime minister, fueling
speculation that people live up there."
posted by uosuaq at 10:02 PM on March 5, 2008


I was in Belize for their federal election in February and was surprised by the almost 80% turnout. Its already been said but high turnouts can be the result of the need for drastic change - Belize's last government was corrupt and the people had enough (the opposition UDP won 25 of 31 seats) It was ALL we heard about in the news and it was literally the topic of every conservation we overheard.

Of course, coming home to Alberta I'm disappointed to see such a low voter turnout but there wasn't any need for this election. While I find Stelmach and his whole party to be boring I don't think the Liberals are, or could do, any better - Taft and the Liberals didn't even get out of bed for this one and didn't stand a chance.
posted by jeffmik at 10:30 PM on March 5, 2008


Colour me envious, ethno, 'cause here in Calgary-Egmont we're stuck with some Tory yahoo. Most revealing thing for me about 37 years of rule was finally getting a good look at the riding map on the wall at the polling station.

My neighbourhood of aging working class and young lefty families (Ramsay) is fused to the top of a vast swath of industrial waste and a big blob of southeast sprawl. Its natural co-constituents to the north (Inglewood) and west (Elbow Park, Mission, Victoria Park) have been carefully sliced up into three separate ridings, two of which are Tory blue today. If the downtown eastside were a single contiguous riding, it'd be anything but Tory. So the thing about 37 years of one-party rule is you can really gerrymander the shit out of your ridings, you know?

That said, I really think the rudderless Liberals lost this thing as much as the Tories won it. I saw Kevin Taft rallying the troops at Crossroads Market two days before the election, and when he came to the applause line about Alberta's first Liberal government! in the offing, you could honestly feel it in his voice that he didn't think it was actually possible. And no one's ever won a political fight without first believing they could.
posted by gompa at 10:34 PM on March 5, 2008


Stockwell Day when asked about his experience as Alberta's finance minister said "a monkey with an abacus could balance Alberta's budget with oil at $30 a barrel..."

"...and did!"

Seconding the iffiness of the Greens. They seemed to lose their shit as soon as they got a substantial national profile. Terrifyingly, the NDP have started looking pretty good to me of late, but I think Bill Blaikie's beard deserves most of the credit for that.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 10:34 PM on March 5, 2008


agghhh - it's bad enough as it is without forcing all the cretins to get out and vote against their will

By forcing I wonder if you mean urging/convincing/scaring/conning?

Spending billions of dollars in attack ads to try to convince cretins to vote doesn't seem like a good use of dollars.
posted by mattoxic at 10:35 PM on March 5, 2008


From Dave Barry's year in review, 1993:
"June 15: Canada elects a new prime minister, fueling
speculation that people live up there."


OK, that made me laugh.

I don't know--something about compulsory voting is a little off to me, but it does seem an appealing idea sometimes. I'd be happier if there were some kind of compulsory education concerning the issues and the candidates. And yeah, this first-past-the-post crap ought to go. Some form of proportional representation would definitely be an improvement.

I had a button during the last (federal) election that said "Don't vote? Don't bitch." I often forgot I was wearing it but it was quite the conversation-starter.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 10:36 PM on March 5, 2008


Also, ethnomethodologist neglected to mention that his riding's Liberal candidate defeated "Scud Stud" Arthur Kent to take the seat, which I'm sure the two American Mefites still reading this will find curious in several respects.

(Also, I met Arthur Kent a few months back at a Microsoft-sponsored BarCamp, which I find curious in several respects.)
posted by gompa at 10:41 PM on March 5, 2008


I voted green. Although it should be noted that I hate the provincial green party (I don't mind the national one so much, because they don't seem as strong-minded on this) because our views differ fundamentally and irreconcilably on nuclear power particularly and on energy policy in general. I voted for them because I think more awareness of their campaign is needed, and my vote helps give them a bit more visibility.

However, I don't think that voting problems or corruption are the problem with the low turnout here. Like other posters, everyone I've talked to simply didn't vote. Didn't want to, didn't care. Simply were not interested. Everyone knew the Conservatives would be elected, and it was only a matter of by how much. But that wasn't really the problem.

The real issue is that everyone here is relatively prosperous. There are sob stories here and there about people who can't afford housing and things like that, but they are the minority. By and large, people here are getting rich, or at least getting by. And I think almost everyone at least appreciates that the conservatives generally speaking stay out of our way and out of our lives. They tax us the least compared to what the other parties want to do.

Trying to pitch social welfare programs and more regulation to prosperous, wealthy people is almost never a good idea, and that's what all three of the other parties try to do, each in their own direction. Generally speaking, the conservatives out here don't give people enough reason to hate them, because they do stay out of people's way. Complain as they might, I don't think people actually mind the conservatives as much as it sounds like they do.

And yes, the NEP does ensure that the Liberals, who are the most conservative-like of the other three, will not be elected here for a very, very, very long time. It is frightening how angry people still are about that, especially people who were here when it happened, but even younger people as well.
posted by cecilkorik at 10:59 PM on March 5, 2008 [1 favorite]


How can one be critical of the government when one doesn't vote?

You're asking how one can be critical of something without having previously engaged in a purely symbolic action with no practical effects on it whatsoever? Seriously?
posted by Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America at 11:32 PM on March 5, 2008


Another explanation of declining voter turnout: Neil Nevitte, in The Decline of Deference, suggests that voter dissatisfaction in all the Western democracies has grown as the education level of the general public has increased. Our elected officials are no longer smarter than we are, and we all know it. People are not very happy with the "vote once every few years" model of political participation.

Mr. President Dr. Steve Elvis America: You're asking how one can be critical of something without having previously engaged in a purely symbolic action with no practical effects whatsoever?

It's a collective responsibility. And it does have a practical effect: the lower the voter turnout, the less legitimacy the elected government has. Nearly 60% of Albertans didn't bother to vote?

cecilkorik: And I think almost everyone at least appreciates that the conservatives generally speaking stay out of our way and out of our lives. They tax us the least compared to what the other parties want to do.

Not sure that really explains the low turnout: it doesn't explain why more people didn't get out and vote Conservative.
posted by russilwvong at 12:00 AM on March 6, 2008


Calgary Grit comments on the election results.

The 2004 election turnout wasn't that different--44%.
posted by russilwvong at 12:12 AM on March 6, 2008


I've been in favour of compulsory voting most of my life: I was raised in the tradition (Australia) and figured that being asked to make a decision every 4 years is the least you can do for a democracy. However recently I had a discussion with a friend I grew up with. He's now a political scientist and vehemently opposed to compulsory voting. His reasoning is that compulsory voting leads to a large default vote for the incumbent and then any other major parties, although the (forced) voters don't actually support them. This means that it's harder to change government, and the winners have a false image of the "mandate" that has been given to them.

Me, I don't know. Is the best solution really to let people not care, not participate and even encourage it? I don't like the possibilities.
posted by outlier at 1:11 AM on March 6, 2008


I suggest Canadian politicians start bribing each other, preferably with hookers.

Cause I got a worried mind sharin' what I thought was mine.
Gonna leave her where the guitars play.
posted by bwg at 1:28 AM on March 6, 2008


Compare that to the US where it is a pain in the ass to vote (except in washington state, where we have mail in ballots for everything apparently), most workplaces, especially those that employ the lower/middle class workers, may not give people the day off or they have to take vacation or sick leave. Or they just can't afford to not miss a day. Combine that with the new fangled voting machines operated by retiree's that haven't a clue on how to fix them if they go down.

Umm what? Voting isn't that difficult. You go to your polling place, wait in line, tick off your ballot (or punch it, or compute it), and go home. My God, I've waited longer in line for a car wash than to vote. Furthermore, employers are required by law to give you time off from work to go vote. If this is a pain in the ass, then life must be just impossibly difficult.
posted by boubelium at 1:38 AM on March 6, 2008


You're asking how one can be critical of something without having previously engaged in a purely symbolic action with no practical effects on it whatsoever? Seriously?

Seriously. We've just had a federal election in Australia, and who would have thought it. A populist, manipulative prime minister and his government were soundly defeated. Not just mildly defeated, but thumped, by the people, in an election, where voting was compulsory.
posted by mattoxic at 1:45 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


I'm guessing there's going to be some sweet vacations coming up for the Alberta tories. 60 out of the 72 of 'em can stay at home, and they'd still have a majority in the house.
posted by scruss at 3:41 AM on March 6, 2008


His reasoning is that compulsory voting leads to a large default vote for the incumbent and then any other major parties, although the (forced) voters don't actually support them.

I don't really think it leads to a vote for the incumbent - the general theory is that it can lead to a protest vote against the incumbent. All these apathetic voters tend to be people who don't like politics or politicians, so what better way to use your vote than to stick the boot into them?

It does lead to a different dynamic to elections, though. I note that a lot of American politicians seem to spend a lot of the time "energizing the base" - getting people out to vote to start with. An American friend of mine told me how he has spent elections over there driving buses, taking people to polling booths so they'll vote. Seems like a lot of wasted effort. Energizing the base often involves focusing on divisive issues (abortion, gays, you know the story).

When people have to vote, things tend towards the middle ground - convincing the great unwashed masses who have to vote to vote for you. In Australia this has meant, in recent past, concentrating on pretty boring things like interest rates. Populist ideas. This isn't necessarily better, but there's definitely a different feel to things.
posted by Jimbob at 5:20 AM on March 6, 2008


I think that compulsory voting is so important.

A person should never be forced to vote, simply because their interests are not being represented by any party.

How can one be critical of the government when one doesn't vote?

Citizenship guarantees that right.
posted by disgruntled at 5:24 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


..to expand. The last Australian election was won on interest rates and industrial relations. How fucking dry can you get? But when people who aren't interested in voting suddenly have to think about their job security, interesting things can happen.
posted by Jimbob at 5:26 AM on March 6, 2008


A person should never be forced to vote, simply because their interests are not being represented by any party.

I've never met a party that's represented all my interests. I've met a few that have represented 50, 60% my interests. That's not bad a bad average given that I live in a country of 20 million individual, very different souls. If you want a party that represents your interests, go run as an independent.

Anyway, we're not forced to vote. We're forced to turn up to a polling booth and get our name ticked off. We can walk out the door after that, or write limericks on the ballot paper.

Citizenship guarantees that right.

Doesn't stop the complaints from being hollow.
posted by Jimbob at 5:34 AM on March 6, 2008


In the meantime, American primaries are breaking records for voter turnout, showing that the trend can be overcome.

Speaking as an American, trust me when I say that you really, really don't want to go through the social and economic bullshit it took for people in this country to finally care about the current election cycle. Oh wait, I forgot, we managed to export that shit globally over the last 8 years. Yeah, sorry about that. Those of us that actually voted in the last two presidential elections express our sincere regrets.
posted by caution live frogs at 5:35 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


How can one be critical of the government when one doesn't vote?

By forming a negative opinion of the government.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:41 AM on March 6, 2008


I have to admit I like compulsory because it's about the only thing going that brings a whole country together. I mean, what else is there? What other civic duty do we have? Jury duty? I've never been picked, and it's relatively easy to skip. It kindles a fire in my heart to know that every Australian is going out to vote on a given day, and that it might make them stop to consider things a little bit.
posted by Jimbob at 5:42 AM on March 6, 2008


Also, disgruntled, if your interests are not represented by any specific party, vote for yourself. Nothing stops you from doing it. They leave a spot blank on the ballot for cases like that.

Or, better yet, start a party that actually does represent your interests. Nothing stops you there either. It would be nice to see more than two parties in a major election, right?

But yeah, my general argument goes like this: You can either sit there and bitch about the government knowing full well you won't accomplish a damn thing, or you can actually take an action that has a snowballs chance in hell of changing it to be more how you like it. I can't understand how a nation full of lottery ticket purchasers can sit there and insist that the chance of changing things with a vote is too small to bother. Yeah, that's logical. Let's start telling our kids that, too. "Gee, Bobby, that's a nice dream, but your chances of growing up to be President are infinitesimally small, so you might as well give up now and just start planning on working at Burger King when you finish grade school."

And now I find out that we're even exporting our apathy to the rest of the world. Way to set an example, America. Damn, Alberta, get your shit together. Usually Canada makes the US look backwards by comparison, you don't want to start slipping now do you?
posted by caution live frogs at 5:42 AM on March 6, 2008


Well, Australia and Canada are both offshoots of the British Empire, with Australia getting the convicts and Canada getting the French. So it makes sense you have mandatory voting in Australia—gotta keep everyone in lockstep ya know. And it makes sense that a lot of Canadians don't bother to vote, with the French being so blasé about everything except food.
posted by disgruntled at 5:45 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


The last federal election I really felt so many more people *gave a shit* than in previous polls.

I suspect most thought the rodent was going to win, but the interest rate rise in the middle of the campaign, that gormless twat, Andrews trying to play the race card with the Sudanese, the Lindsay flyer.... really made people take an interest.

It was a far more interesting campaign than the Latham or Bomber campaigns of previous years. Even though Latham was pretty entertaining.
posted by mattoxic at 5:58 AM on March 6, 2008


I have to admit I like compulsory because it's about the only thing going that brings a whole country together.

There was that time in 1988 or 89 or so that America stood up together, looked each other in the eye, and as one said "NO!" to Yahoo Serious.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:09 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


Have you seen the speech Howard gave today, mattoxic? No regrets, the country did him wrong. Pretty hilarious. To quote Tim Dunlop, here's a shallow, empty vessel holding a nice piece of glassware.
posted by Jimbob at 6:12 AM on March 6, 2008


There was that time in 1988 or 89 or so that America stood up together, looked each other in the eye, and as one said "NO!" to Yahoo Serious.

God bless America. Wipes tear away.
posted by Jimbob at 6:13 AM on March 6, 2008


I think that compulsory voting is so important. How can one be critical of the government when one doesn't vote?

Because so much of what the government does that actually impacts your life is unaffected by election outcomes or the people who hold elected office. We had a big democratic victory in Congress in 2006, anyone notice anything different?
posted by Pastabagel at 7:30 AM on March 6, 2008


I'm all for mandatory voting. It literally took me ten minutes to go and vote. There wasn't even a line!

I like the tax cut for voters idea, but I also like the tax increase for non voters idea.
posted by chugg at 7:31 AM on March 6, 2008


The Greens are the kooks of Canadian politics, little better than the Canadian Action Party.

At least 4.44% of voters in the last federal election would disagree with you (Greens: 4.48%, Canadian Action Party: 0.04%).

I lived in the epicenter of the Greenest riding in Canada (Sidney, in Saanich and the Islands)

Interestingly enough, it seems the Greenest riding is London North Centre.

Fourth, the Greens have no coherent policies. Are they lefty? Check out their immigration policies. Are they rightwing? Check out their tax regimes. Are they Green? Well, they do advocate changing lightbulbs.

Oh, come on. Do a little reading on the Green's actual policies.

I don't know why this a shock to anyone, but there are other possible policy positions than those that sit on the traditional Canadian left-right line.
posted by ssg at 7:41 AM on March 6, 2008


I think forcing people to come out to the polling places is acceptable. There's no way to force people to vote for one person or another (a good thing), but by simply getting the bodies there, it gets people slightly more involved in the process.
posted by that girl at 7:52 AM on March 6, 2008


I think forcing people to come out to the polling places is acceptable. There's no way to force people to vote for one person or another (a good thing), but by simply getting the bodies there, it gets people slightly more involved in the process.

If people want to get involved in the process, they do.

It's the job of the politicians to get the people enthused in the work they're doing. Voter apathy is not a problem the non-voters have; it's a problem that a broken system full of lies and empty promises has created. It's the people involved in the system's responsibility to come through on their promises to their constituents and encourage them to want to support someone.

Also, if someone's simply born into a country (something they don't even choose), they should have the right not to have any interest in what the rest of the population is doing. There are no free lands left in the world; no places to go for those who don't want to be a "citizen". Legislating these people to vote, increasing their tax burden because of your ideals, is encroaching on their freedom and taking away their right not to associate with the political process. How is that not incredibly authoritarian?
posted by scabrous at 8:14 AM on March 6, 2008


I think I'm missing how it increases their tax burden. Could you elaborate more on that?

I am all for people being disgusted with the election procedure, and all of the ridiculous unattainable promises that candidates (need) to make to entice people to vote for them.

And I'm still not saying that people need to be forced to vote. Just that they would be required to show up on voting day (or send in a blank absentee ballot or such) for a few minutes. I don't see it as much worse than requiring that we pay into medicare or social security. If you believe that those things are also incredibly authoritarian, then we have reached an ideological impasse.
posted by that girl at 8:26 AM on March 6, 2008


Maybe we should just start teaching our children civic responsibility earlier.

I vote because this value was instilled in me at quite a young age. Here in Ontario, kids dont start learning about their own government until Grade 10, a mere three years before they are allowed the right to vote. Now what 15 year old absorbs this shit? I think a teenager is more likely to come out of that -not listening-not caring- and -NOT VOTING-.

Apathy, of course, is not limited to younger voters. It is, however, only going to get worse, generation after generation.

So lets teach our kids that with rights, come responsibilities, and that you can't win by not trying. I'm tired of hearing people say they dont vote because their preferred candidate is without a chance. They are obviously a part of the problem.
posted by sunshinesky at 9:30 AM on March 6, 2008


I love that the Calgary Herald story calls 41% turnout "shameful". 41% turnout down here in the US is a massive turnout, even in a hotly contested race.

do people in Canada just take their responsibility more seriously?
posted by Dr. Twist at 9:39 AM on March 6, 2008


Yeah, let's get people who are to howl at the moon to bother to raise their damn hand in on the process. Let's force them to vote- no doubt people who don't want to be in the process will research the issues and make an informed decision! No way would those people ever be influenced by a demagogue or a slick campaign with darker undertones. No way would those people be more susceptible to wedge issues or mindless identity politics.

Voting quality is a lot more important than voting quantity.

mattoxic: Seriously. We've just had a federal election in Australia, and who would have thought it. A populist, manipulative prime minister and his government were soundly defeated. Not just mildly defeated, but thumped, by the people, in an election, where voting was compulsory.

They also put him there to begin with.
posted by spaltavian at 10:36 AM on March 6, 2008


I love that the Calgary Herald story calls 41% turnout "shameful". 41% turnout down here in the US is a massive turnout, even in a hotly contested race.

do people in Canada just take their responsibility more seriously?


Well, our national emblem is a policeman (a Mountie) and Canada's national motto is:

Peace, Order, and Good Government

(What's the American motto again? Life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness, and mega-sized cheeseburgers?)

Our great national debate: universal healthcare funding formulas.

Yes, we are a nation that takes citizenship seriously.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:00 AM on March 6, 2008 [1 favorite]


And I'm still not saying that people need to be forced to vote. Just that they would be required to show up on voting day (or send in a blank absentee ballot or such) for a few minutes. I don't see it as much worse than requiring that we pay into medicare or social security. If you believe that those things are also incredibly authoritarian, then we have reached an ideological impasse.

People being required to do something to not vote seems like a waste of time and money to me. Again, the impetus should be put on the politicians' lack of inspiring people to vote, not on the voters themselves. Apathy is not an effect, not a cause.

I think I'm missing how it increases their tax burden. Could you elaborate more on that?

An earlier suggestion included tax rebates for those who vote and even tax increases on those who don't. I was responding in general, not specifically to you. Sorry for the confusion.
posted by scabrous at 11:24 AM on March 6, 2008


Apathy *is* and effect, not a cause.
posted by scabrous at 11:25 AM on March 6, 2008


Nelson Muntz and the rest of America points and says HA HA!
posted by incessant at 11:32 AM on March 6, 2008


ssg, that was in the byelection (with Ms May running) in London North Centre- if you look at results for the 2006 general election the Greens didn't even get 5%.

Calgary Centre got almost 12% Green votes in the last general fed election, which was the second best showing in the country after Calgary Centre North- 11.8% and 11.7%. KokoRyu, Greens didn't quite top 10% in Saanich.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 12:17 PM on March 6, 2008


ethnomethodologist: I'm well aware that it was a by-election. My point, which I probably should have actually come right out and stated, was that Green support is widespread across Canada and not concentrated in the few places you might expect (i.e. not just those hippies on the Gulf Islands which KokoRyu was referring to). Calgary is obviously another good example of this.
posted by ssg at 12:29 PM on March 6, 2008


Have you seen the speech Howard gave today, mattoxic? No regrets, the country did him wrong. Pretty hilarious.

Yeah Jimbob, did listen to excerpts on PM on the way home.

Quite telling that he chose to speak, not in Australia, a country so obviously undeserving of his wisdom, but to the American Institute in Washington DC- when pretty much the only like minded thinkers still lurk, with their quite bizarre belief that the Iraq war is a good thing, and was somehow there all along


Also spaltavian,
True Australian voters put him there to begin with, and kept putting him there, but they kicked him out too- democracy can do that- it's like a weird byproduct.
posted by mattoxic at 3:06 PM on March 6, 2008


True Australian voters put him there to begin with, and kept putting him there, but they kicked him out too- democracy can do that- it's like a weird byproduct.

I honestly have no idea what you're trying to say. More to the point, I don't think that anyone else does either.
posted by 1 at 6:23 PM on March 6, 2008


And it makes sense that a lot of Canadians don't bother to vote, with the French being so blasé about everything except food.

Last time voting reached near-record levels, with turnout put at almost 85% - the highest for nearly 50 years in France.
posted by ersatz at 6:23 PM on March 6, 2008


mrzarquon writes "Also, it is a national holiday. Everyone gets the day off to vote, and is given the chance to."

Everyone? Air traffic controllers? Police? FireFighters? Telephone operators?

ethnomethodologist writes "And those old timers don't just vote- they remember the NEP"

I don't think that anyone who hasn't lived in Alberta or with Albertans can understand the deep hatred for the NEP. Kids who weren't even born feel personally wronged by it. It's amazing.

ssg writes "At least 4.44% of voters in the last federal election would disagree with you (Greens: 4.48%, Canadian Action Party: 0.04%)."

There was a lot of protest voting that benefited the green party in Alberta.

ssg writes "My point, which I probably should have actually come right out and stated, was that Green support is widespread across Canada and not concentrated in the few places you might expect (i.e. not just those hippies on the Gulf Islands which KokoRyu was referring to). Calgary is obviously another good example of this."

See above, lots of Calgarians who didn't want to vote for the CRAAP voted green instead. Many wouldn't have cast there vote that way if there was any chance of them getting in.
posted by Mitheral at 7:08 PM on March 6, 2008


Green support is widespread across Canada and not concentrated in the few places you might expect (i.e. not just those hippies on the Gulf Islands which KokoRyu was referring to).

Actually, I wasn't referring to hippies living on the Gulf Islands as Green supporters. Sidney, as you know, is not on one of the Gulf Islands, but is the service center for the Saanich Peninsula. There's a lot of apparent support for the Green Party in Sidney, but these folks are far from being hippies. Typically they live in detached bungalows with drip-fed bark-bed gardens and drive fuel-efficient Hondas or Subarus. Mountain Equipment Co-Op is the clothing of choice.

It's a confusing demographic.

And I'm not sure if there are any hippies left on the Gulf Islands...Green Party types have bought them out.
posted by KokuRyu at 7:18 PM on March 6, 2008


Mitheral:There was a lot of protest voting that benefited the green party in Alberta.

Even if half the Green votes in Alberta were protest votes (something that I very much doubt), that still only changes the federal results to 4.16%. I don't see how that helps whatever point you are trying to make. If you want to claim that the Green party doesn't have a small, but widespread, base of support, you are going to have to do better than some claims about protest votes in Calgary.
posted by ssg at 7:42 PM on March 6, 2008


Citizenship guarantees that right.

Doesn't stop the complaints from being hollow.


Neither does voting.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 9:24 AM on March 7, 2008


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