One Good Idea For Future Elections (And One Bad One)

Naturally, I carried out the latter this afternoon.

Just one brief note before we begin: I haven't always been a Liberal voter in the past, but if you're looking for my endorsement, they strike me as a far more democratically sound pick than the Conservatives and a far more economically sound one than the NDP. They've also done more to push accountability, accessibility, and transparency than any of the other parties in this campaign. So, yeah - they have my support. It's probably slightly less effective an argument than "This May 2nd - settle for Michael Ignatieff. Leadership you can deal with if you have to." Then again, the biggest thought running through my mind lately is that no one ever lost an election underestimating the ability of voters to think critically.

Yes, I am bitter (if not entirely surprised) that bad ideas sold with a message of fear or hope have triumphed over a more modest and balanced platform that lacks a catchy 5-word soundbite. Deal with it.

But anyways, my first idea counters the issue of uninformed voting, and I call it Question The Vote. Wherever you live in Canada, a week or two before the election, walk around your neighbourhood and at the house of anyone who's got an election sign up, no matter the party they're supporting, just drop a note in their mailbox saying "Seriously? You're voting for them? Have you even LOOKED at their platform? ~Signed, a concerned neighbour". The idea came to me when I was at my stepdad's birthday party last week, and I got to discussing politics, and people had underlying assumptions driving their political choices that were just flat-out wrong (the idea that crime rates are on the rise when they haven't been is the biggest one). If people are prompted to not just say "I'm voting for XXX", but think about the specific policies and choices that drive that decision, I feel like we might get a more informed outcome.

The second idea addresses the lack of voting among youth. A lot has been made about vote mobs this election, which are great, but the problem has never been on university campuses - when you only measure among the university educated or current students, the turnout rate's pretty comparable with the general population. What we need is a way to reach out to the people who went right into the workforce. And this is where the second idea comes into play: Creep The Vote.

This afternoon I logged on to Plentyoffish and messaged 50 young women with less than a Bachelor's degree, asking them to vote tomorrow. Will it work? Who knows. But I looked at my own social circle and realized that with the privacy settings and everything we have on the other social networks, the number of avenues we have to directly contact people we don't know is dwindling. Sure, we can broadcast via Twitter, but it's not the same as one-to-one.

Maybe I'll get told off. Maybe nothing will happen. But it was something. What are you doing to boost turnout this election?


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2 comments

  • Seriously? Boost turnout? Have you even CONSIDERED why increasing uniformed voting may not be a good thing?

    • Signed, a concerned neighbour.
  • I have – and what I'm suggesting isn't that. There's plenty of informed

    people turned off by the electoral process for any number of reasons, but

    the powers that be won't have any incentive to change things until we make

    it clear that those opposed won't be silent on election day.


    If someone provides a benevolent kick in the ass, a reminder not to waste

    the opportunity that people around the world give their lives to have – I

    fail to see how that's a bad thing. There's a case to be made against

    mandatory voting, and I highly doubt someone who had no idea we were in an

    election will read my message, walk blindly into a ballot booth and play

    eenie-meenie-miney-mo. I'm a pretty good writer, but I'm not that good. But

    if you were aware of the election and just not especially motivated to look

    up your polling station, maybe a message will motivate you to do that, and

    to get out and vote. I fail to see the downside in that.


    Or were you trying to argue that people with less than a BA are uninformed,

    and that such people shouldn't vote? Because that's just condescending.

    • Brian Alkerton