OPINION: Make it mandatory

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By Nick Seebruch
OPINION: Make it mandatory
A ballot box

Did you know we are less than 100 days until the next federal election? A lot has changed in four years, and I’ve seen a lot of strong opinions on the current government, positive and negative. As I often feel when I see strong opinions on government on the internet, I hope that all those who either support the government or are demanding change will go out and vote.

The voter turnout in both last year’s provincial and municipal elections were poor, about 36 per cent for the municipal election. At the provincial level turnout was relatively higher, 54 percent, but still, when only half of the electorate votes, I can hardly say with confidence that the system works.
I think it is time to consider mandatory voting, or at least making an election day a national paid holiday. The second idea actually came up in the States not too long ago, the Republicans shot it down because they did not want to see a loss of economic productivity. I would rather see more people have their say in the voting process however. I think that is important to promote government legitimacy.

Not everyone can make it to the polls on voting day, but if it is a national holiday and the banks are closed, the stores are closed, and they don’t have to go into work, then what else are they going to do but go vote.

There will always be those who say, “I don’t vote because what’s the point”, to them I say, then don’t complain about it. George Carlin is one of if not my most favourite comedian of all time, but I do disagree with him on one point. When his career had a renaissance in the 1990s, he would do a bit explaining that he did not vote because he did not want to be complicit in the crimes of politicians. I reject that idea. We don’t go to the polls to elect crooks, and if they turn out to be crooks, that is hardly our fault. If a gas station employee steals from the till, should the employer be arrested too because they hired someone who turned out to be a thief?

Go out and vote for the politician whose views represent yours, do some research and find out what those views and policies are, and if you want to radically change the system, then vote for the candidate who promises to do that, or run for office yourself.

On that note, while we are talking about making voting mandatory why not also lower the voting age to 16. This is something that comedian and Canadian political commentator Rick Mercer has advocated for and to me it makes a lot of sense, it is their future after all.

Additionally, lowering the voting age to 16 is something else that I believe will increase voter turnout in the long term. Put polling places in schools, send students down to the gym to vote, make voting a normal part of becoming an adult like buying insurance or paying taxes. Also, at the age of 16 a lot of these students are taking Civics courses, so they might be following politics a little bit more closely than someone who hasn’t watched the news in the past 20 years.

Either way, voting is something that should be encouraged, because the average joe doesn’t always vote, but those who always do are the ones on the extremes and maybe politics would be a little more civil if politicians knew more level headed people were voting.

We are less than 100 days from the election, who do you want to represent you and more importantly, will you vote for them?

What do you think readers? How can we increase voter turnout? Email me a Letter to the Editor at nicholas.seebruch@tc.tc

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