Top News

EDITORIAL: Why your vote counts

If you spoil your ballot or don’t vote, who do you think will be paying attention? Voting is the best way to make your voice heard. —
If you spoil your ballot or don’t vote, who do you think will be paying attention? Voting is the best way to make your voice heard. — 123RF Stock Photo

It’s election day.

Basically, it’s your chance to have some say in the political direction the province will take for the next four years or so. You should use it wisely — you should vote. It’s remarkably easy and virtually painless. A flu shot is worse.

You won’t really be asked what you think again in a meaningful way until the next vote — the government, whatever party it is, will occasionally claim to be seeking direction from citizens, but past experience says that your input will be most valued if you’re agreeing with the direction the government is already heading in.

Even if you choose not to vote, others will, and every voter who sits on the sidelines will make the votes of those who do vote more valuable.

And yes, the choices you have might not be to your liking. One thing we’ve heard during this campaign is that it’s hard to find fundamental differences between the parties and their positions. It’s really just an extension of political apathy — knowing the number of people who can’t be bothered going to the polls, our politicians don’t feel they have to be bothered to step up with better options either.

Some have even suggested spoiling your ballot — it’s your choice, of course, but since spoiled ballots aren’t revealed in any detail post-election, your protest will remain a personal and quixotic one. All in all, about as effective as whispering your dislike of the current candidates into the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels while sitting in your closet in the dark. Your dissent might make you feel good, but no one will ever hear it.

Even if you choose not to vote, others will, and every voter who sits on the sidelines will make the votes of those who do vote more valuable.

Will low voter turnouts and higher numbers of spoiled ballots make whatever party is elected sit down and ponder changes, considering options like proportional representation and the need to develop the best possible candidates maybe years in advance of elections?

No — their response, regardless of turnout numbers, will be “Hurray! We’re elected.”

(Your child has a temper tantrum in a store because you won’t buy them candy — so you buy them the candy and say, “If you do that again next time we’re here, no candy.” Do you think your youngster is thinking anything but “Candy!”? No, they’re not.)

Truth be told, the only thing likely to shift the status quo is if there’s an unexpected surge of support on an unexpected front. If the Newfoundland and Labrador Alliance performS far better than expected, for example, established parties in the province might be forced to take notice and think about campaigns that don’t hinge — as this one seems to — on targeted promises that the parties refuse to either cost out or explain where the money’s coming from.

But low turnouts make any change unlikely.

So vote, damn it.

Recent Stories