If You Don't Vote, You Can't Complain

I'm going to do something I never do on this site, and get political for just a moment. But only for those readers in Ontario. For the rest of you, here is a video of a teenager flipping out over seeing boobs on Game of Thrones. Enjoy.

For those Ontarians left, tomorrow is election day, and this is me telling you that you need to vote. During the 2011 election, voter turnout was 49%, a record low in the province, down from 52% in the 2007 election. With figures from the advanced polls already in, voter turnout this time is expected to set a new low record. This downward trend is not just confined to provincial elections (and is a trend across most if not all provinces), but federal as well, which has seen a steady decline over the past twenty years, with only a slight tick up in the 2011 election. Understand, in a country that doesn't mandate it's citizens to vote, actively not taking part in the process is not a political statement, it is ignorant laziness.

This provincial election is one of the most interesting that I can remember, in that it contains a field of candidates who all equally lack appeal and suitability for the position. There is the Liberals, headed by Kathleen Wynne, who have spent the last 12 years in power proving to be dishonest, untrustworthy, and potentially corrupt. Their platform is built on the concept of plunging the province into a deficit so deep it'll be insurmountable within the next twenty years. Alternatively, there are the increasingly ironically named Progressive Conservatives, lead by Tim Hudak, who insist that 100,000 public sector workers are going to willing give up their jobs for the good of the province, and that privatisation and tax breaks for businesses will magic up one million new jobs (and those numbers have all be accused of being flimsy to the point of being made of wet toilet paper). Finally you have the NDPs, lead by Andrea Horwath, who have utterly failed to distinguish themselves at all during the election. The Liberals and PCs have consistently stated that the choice is between one of them, and the NDPs have proven to be such an non-entity that they are proving the other party's point. The incredibly negative ads being lobbed back and forth between the reds and the blues haven't mentioned the oranges at all, and have monopolized the air time to such an extent, that the single NDP ad I've seen during the entire election aired on a Sunday afternoon during a rerun of Murdock Mysteries.

None of these are appealing options. Current polls suggest the Liberals will irk out a slim majority, though the chances of either the Liberals or the PCs ending up with a minority is equally possible.But really, this isn't just devil-you-know, or rock-and-a-hard-place. This is damned if you do, damned if you don't, damned if you choose door number three, Johnny. There is another option, one little know and never publicized: you can decline your ballot. Spoiled ballots are terrible, childish things, but a declined ballot is a perfectly legal means of having your cake and eating it. Quote:
"53. An elector who has received a ballot and returns it to the deputy returning officer declining to vote, forfeits the right to vote and the deputy returning officer shall immediately write the word “declined” upon the back of the ballot and preserve it to be returned to the returning officer and shall cause an entry to be made in the poll record that the elector declined to vote. R.S.O. 1990, c. E.6, s. 53."
If you want to engage in active and legitimate political protest, decline your ballot. It is counted differently than a spoiled ballot, but more importantly, you are counted. You are marked as having voted. The numbers will read that you came out, and that you refused to choose between these terrible choices. Is that good democracy? No, but it might send a message about the kinds of politics that we want. Whomever loses this election will lose their job. Hudak will have run two unsuccessful campaigns, same with Andrea Horwath. After having assumed control from the denigrated Dalton McGuinty, this is Kathleen Wynn's test of appeal with Ontarians, and if the Liberals lose their decade+ hold on the province, the party might be inclined to bump her in favour of someone with less of a shadow hanging over their head. If the turnout numbers and the party tallies don't match up, declined ballots could play a significant role in how the parties and Elections Ontario move forward.

The point is, vote who whomever you want, or for no one at all. But if you didn't take advantage of the advanced polls, get out tomorrow. It is quick and painless, and is your responsibility as a citizen. Even if the choices are crap.
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About MR. Clark

Adopting the descriptor of "successfully unpublished author", MR. Clark began writing things on the internet in 2012, which he believed to be an entirely reputable and civilized place to find and deliver information. He regrets much.


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