Vote first, solve other problems later


Kate Chappell considers the Occupy movement and the act of voting.

A sign I saw this weekend at the Occupy Ottawa camp said something to the effect of voting as an institution being broken. But if the majority of us do not engage in the activities required of us by this institution, how can we fairly and accurately assess its effectiveness? I argue that we cannot begin to do so. It is ironic that the Occupiers’ main message calls for an end to inequality. Voting is the activity most blind to socio-economic status and a free, convenient means of registering one’s preferences..

Many of the Occupiers seem to be partial to anything but what we have now. In fact, many seem partial to an anarchic or communistic system. But let’s back up a minute. What if they had all voted in the last federal election? We would likely have a different prime minister.

Jeff Jedras previously quibbled with the suggestion the the Occupiers would simply be better off voting.


Vote first, solve other problems later

  1. The stupidity continues.





  2. Emma Goldman ~ If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal

  3. “The first sign of madness is to do something over and over while expecting a different result” — Albert Einstein

    • “Never doubt that a small group of thougtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed it is the only thing that ever has. — Margaret Mead.

      Emily, you said you voted Reform at one time…you should know then that voting can change EVERYTHING!!!

      • No, I learned that voting changes nothing beyond the party name in power.

        Because none of the parties, no matter what their name, changes anything

        • Oh, I think if the NDP were in power things would change quite a bit.

          • The system doesn’t change, and that’s the important part. Not whatever policies a temporary govt comes up with…and all govts are temporary.

          • But you do realize that becoming a part of a political party, with enough like-minded members, can institute resolutions (including a resolution saying certain resolutions must be part of the platform) that can change the system, right?

          • @2Jenn:disqus 

            LOL no, it doesn’t change the system.

  4. JJ is absolutely right IMO. Make the political process more open and accountable to the individual mps and the people…then suggest the occupiers vote. Essentially KC is saying if you want things to improve them vote. While the occupiers are chanting why legitimize a broken process. I see merit in both pov; but my sympathies definitely lie with the OWS crowd. If they had not gone and raised this fuss would we now be having this conversation? First the reforms, then the renewed participation.

  5. Also from the Jeff Jedras article:

    One suggestion that I know will be made though is online
    voting, and I have to say it’s not the answer for youth engagement.
    Young people aren’t voting not because it’s not easy enough, but because
    it’s not relevant. Online voting may well have merit (I have serious security concerns I’d want addressed first) but just because the kids like smartphones doesn’t make online voting the answer to low youth engagement.

    Which got me to thinking about the government response to low voter turnout.  The other day Tim Uppal, the Minister of State for Democratic Reform was making an announcement of some sort.  Later on, questions were asked about participation rates, and Uppal was only able to provide one stock answer:  “We are increasing the number of advance polling dates.”  What about electronic voting?  Same answer. The probability of effective change occurring in time for the next election seems very low.

    • The current voter turnout is working well for Harper, why would he want to change anything?

      • Ummm sure, maybe.

        Clearly he won the election under the current setup which was ‘only’ able to produce a turnout of about 60%, so to that extent Harper ‘benefits’ from the current setup.

        But it is much less clear that Harper would not be able to win in any other voting scenario.

        For example:
        –  add some advance polling days (the current plan) –> Harper is still PM
        –  add electronic voting (nominally to attract the youth vote) –> Harper is probably still PM
        –  implement mandatory voting (increases participation to >95%) –> I’m unsure, stilla Harper majority, if not a minority?
        –  replace FPTP with AV –> Harper is PM, with a slightly reduced majority
        –  replace FPTP with STV –> Harper could still be PM, but almost certainly in a minority government
        –  and so on

        Overall I’m totally in favour of some combination of the above changes (except the first ‘change’), but I’m not as sure about the outcome(s).  I support the changes on the basis that they generally improve the democraticness of our system, and they should also tend to reduce the amount of griping that goes on afterwards, so that we can instead shift our focus towards identifying problems that need attention and on identifying the best solution(s).

    • Ontario had several advanced polling dates.  However, the voter turnout was the lowest ever–less than 50%.  The current voting system is designed for voter supression.

      • No it isn’t.

      • If the current system is truly designed for voter suppression, then it isn’t working all that well – generally speaking at least half the voters are still managing to ‘get through’. ;-)

  6. Many of the Occupiers seem to be partial to anything but what we
    have now. In fact, many seem partial to an anarchic or communistic

    Really?  Many?  How many?

    Even if 100% of the actual Occupiers seem partial to anarchy or communism, what actually would be more relevant to know is how many of the folks who have significant sympathy for the Occupiers would be partial to anarchy or communism.

    • Her writings would make J. Edgar proud.

  7. The problem with our current voting system is that it is not democratic.  Why vote in undemocratic elections?

    • Not democratic in theory or in practice?

      • Well, clearly any system which results in a party you don’t like winning must ipso facto be undemocratic.

        • If the Conservatives get 40% of the seats from 40% of the vote, I would accept that.  If they can get the support of another 10% plus one extra seat from other parties, I would accept that they lead the government.

        • I’m sympathetic to the gist of your response.

          OTOH, there are degrees of democraticness…there is room for improvement.

  8. “What if they had all voted in the last federal election? We would likely have a different prime minister.”

    Does she have evidence that they didn’t?  Perhaps their “don’t vote” attitude comes from bitter experiences at the polls, or worse: with the result when their preferred candidate won and subsequently ignored all of their promises (most recently Obama).

  9. “What if they had all voted in the last federal election? We would likely have a different prime minister.”I’ve been asking the same question since the movement got started here in Canada.  Maybe most did, maybe they didn’t – nobody seems to be asking them.

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