Ontarians: voting with their butts for Nobody

Get ready for the Voter Turnout Nerds: you’ll be hearing from them today


Get ready for the Voter Turnout Nerds: you’ll be hearing from them today. Oh yes. It would not be like them to stay silent after an Ontario election in which fewer than half of technically eligible voters appear to have cast a ballot. The Turnout Nerds don’t care who won or who lost: they care about the mathematical purity of the electoral exercise. They’ll be everywhere you look in the media, ready with their diagnoses and their nostrums and, most of all, their disapproval.

It’s not the people who have let us down, they’ll tell us; it’s the government that has let the people down, fostering apathy (most heinous of all political sins) by failing to implement Brilliant Idea X or Salutary Scheme Y. But at what point do the people, apparently so deaf to the allure of electoral reforms and renovations, stop believing the Turnout Nerd’s comforting assurances of goodwill? Nothing seems to raise the holy quantity of Turnout very effectively. Any momentary rise seems to be followed by a more precipitate plunge. Are the electorate and the Turnout Nerds headed toward a frightful mutual collision with terrible truths about democracy?

Seven provinces, including Ontario, have adopted fixed election dates, partly as a response to the Turnout Problem. When the Harper government introduced fixed dates in 2006—we all remember how well that turned out, don’t we?—this was one of the stated goals: “One objective of setting fixed election dates is maximizing voter turnout.” Dozens of experts and quasi-experts made this argument, and we now have data from enough fixed-date elections to venture a conclusion on this noble experiment:

 Prov    Elxn           Change in Turnout
 BC      May 17 2005    +2.8%
 PE      May 28 2007    +0.5%
 NL      Oct 9 2007     -9.5%
 ON      Oct 10 2007    -4.1%
 BC      May 12 2009    -7.2%
 NB      Sept 27 2010   +4.0%
 PE      Oct 3 2011     -7.4%
 MB      Oct 4 2011     +0.7%
 ON      Oct 6 2011     -5.2%*
 NL      Oct 11 2011    ?
 SK      Nov 7 2011     ?
 *early estimate

[Points thumb downward, blows raspberry]

As provinces scrambled pell-mell to adopt fixed election dates, a few sociologists and political scientists pointed out that our municipal governments already have them—and that turnouts in Canadian municipal elections, possibly as a consequence, are feeble. Fixed election dates are also a characteristic of American electoral systems, as are pathetic turnouts at every level.

And what else do Canadian municipal elections and U.S. federal and state elections have in common? Huge incumbency advantages. Fixed dates are supposed to relieve a crucial advantage of incumbents in traditional Canadian elections, yet it’s the damnedest thing—if my math is right, incumbents won seven of the nine fixed-date elections in that table, and are extremely likely to be 9-for-11 a month from now. (I wouldn’t recommend establishing any crazy expectations about increased turnout in Newfoundland and Saskatchewan, either.)

Did we make a boo-boo? Did our democracy slip on a banana peel? Turnout Nerds sought fixed-date elections in the name of their obsession with voting as a simplistic moral imperative: it is starting to appear not only as if they failed on their own terms, but that their tonic for democracy may have had unanticipated, or at least undisclosed, side-effects. The Nerds’ next crusade will probably be for electronic voting, and if you think citizens are cynical about electoral politics now, wait until the apparatus falls into the hands of the people who gave the world golden hits like PC LOAD LETTER and PAGE_FAULT_IN_NONPAGED_AREA.

It is not that the Turnout Nerds have some vast constituency of voters who share their concern. Voter turnout is the kind of imaginary issue that spurs people to parrot pieties to pollsters, but the turnout itself is a perfect revealed-preference measure of how much people actually care. Aside from a few unfortunates who slip and fall or get hit by buses on their way to the polls, there can be almost no such thing as a person who is really concerned about turnout, but who stays home on Election Day. We all have near-total control over whether we turn out or not. The cost of going to the polls is pretty much zero. So the issue, if there is an issue, must be that a lot of people think that voting isn’t even worth the zero—that they personally accomplish nothing or less than nothing by voting: not even the reinforcement of a useful social norm or the cultivation of a private sense of satisfaction. Some of them are surely right about this.

The true place of the Turnout Nerd in the media ecosystem is to fill space—to give us something to talk and worry and argue about in the absence of authentic information about what stirrings and yearnings lie behind the raw vote totals. But the Nerd, with his worrywart ways focused on one principle of political health, may be having the same destructive effects on our political life as any other fundamentalist or monomaniac. These people are the orthorexics of politics. Ask Kenneth Arrow: the creation of a political system is always a balancing act between virtues, a compromise, a kludge. Greater political “engagement” and “involvement” are vague virtues at best; and more “excitement” is, if you ask me, an indubitable positive vice.

So can we start politely ignoring the Turnout Nerd? Heck, I won’t even insist on the “politely” part.


Ontarians: voting with their butts for Nobody

  1. I would like to fine all these people who didn’t vote. They should be punished for acting like complete buffoons.

    • Only ignorant people believe voting matters.  Until we take monetary policy and the creation of currency back from private banks the “National debt” is corporate induced peonage for the canadian people and wonderful grist for the political class serving the banking aristocracy.

      Most of the nation debt is interest going to private banks.  If voters weren’t so gullible and clueless they would have revolted a long time ago. But most voters are so propagandized to they can no longer think critically at all and have bought the lies and illusions hook, line and sinker.

      • Alcan thanks you for your patronage of its quality aluminum foil products.

  2. I declined my ballot. Did I offend the Turnout Nerds or not?

    • Declined ballots are counted, so the Nerd would approve. Indeed, having gone through the motions of voting despite demonstrated indifference to the alternatives, you raise the suspicion that you may be a Turnout Nerd yourself.

      • Only on my own behalf. Whether or not everyone else votes? That matters less to me.

  3. I think it is great that people that don’t care don’t vote. Do you really want people that aren’t interested deciding what government we have?

    • Bingo. The less uninformed people voting, the better.

      Lower turnouts generally indicate a “pox on all your houses” attitude. One I think we can all agree was well in play in Ontario this time around.

      • It’s pretty idealistic to think that the people who do turn out to vote ARE informed. I’m pretty sure a good chunck of them are the people panicked by massive MISinformation. Sorry for the caps but honestly. Give me a break.

        • I agree with you. There could be a basic test before you receive your ballet, maybe “name all the candidates in your riding”? At least the would eliminate the completely uninformed. It seems truly sad that they have to list the party affiliations of the candidates on the ballot.

          • What would be the minimum grade, because I consider myself an avid watcher of politics and and I would only get a 60% grade. The Green and Freedom Party candidates were not included in debates, didn’t ran any ads, had no posters or flyers. They were completely absent from the mainstream media.

          • Just don’t put any names on ballots.  If a person can’t be bothered to learn how to spell their chosen candidate’s name, they probably haven’t bothered to look at the policies either.

  4. Government coercion mostly makes me twitchy but voting should be mandatory. Fixed elections every 4 or 5 years on Canada Day. I would also supply money to villages, towns and cities to have performances around polling stations with musicians, actors, poets, interpretive dance and other artsy types. Nuit blanche during the day instead of at 3 am. 

    Over the decades, people have been voting less the more government takes over social and economic policies. Other than Natives, underclasses and working classes are generally being taken care of in Canada and there are no huge injustices that make us particularly angry.  

    Canadians can afford to be apathetic but that also seems decadent, to me at least.

    • Well Tony I had to give you a like this morning.  I have family in Australia and visit the country.  The effects of mandatory voting has impressed me, particularly the effect on the quality of reporting by media of political news.  Next time the AU gov tables a budget have a look at the coverage in The Australian.  Also my nieces, in their very early teens, gave me a complete and accurate description of the workings of their political system, something they learn in school.  Australians talk about politics and policies in their daily life a lot more than we do. It certainly hasn’t made the country turn more socialist than ours, far from it in fact.  However, the single transferrable ballot is not popular among AU friends and family. 

      • I assume people would inform themselves more if they were forced to vote, apathy would be reduced but not eliminated. People would be less cynical, and more enraged, if they paid close attention to how we are governed. 

        I don’t like fancy schmancy voting systems either – I person, I vote in defined ridings and most votes win. 

        If I was King for day – God help you all – I would like to abolish political parties but am not certain how practical that would be because humans like to join groups. 

        • Check out the ongoing experiments in Nunavut and the NWT with non-partisan legislatures.

          • Thanks for tip, I will check it out later. I have long been interested in eliminating political parties, I think they are anti-democratic because they focus on their own re-election chances instead of following constituents wishes. 

    • One thought- when was the last time we had an election over a truly meaningful issue? I would say 1988 no? Voter turnout reached a peak over the ‘free trade’ election. 2006 also saw a spike (the Adscam election?). When there is a meaningful issue, people vote. What overwhelming issue was at stake yesterday? I can’t name one. 

      • NIMBYists fighting qixote-style against the green energy act shot down a few rural liberal seats…

      • Issues can trigger elections. Fixed election dates are a chance to bury issues.

        • Ah interesting point. I wonder if anyone has studied voter turnout in countries with fixed election dates vs. Westminster-style elections. Maybe there is a psychological effect there.

      • I am talking Fed government and between 1860-1960s voter turnout fluctuated between 70-80% – reached high in late 1950s/early1960s – and now we are below 60% turnout.

        People can afford to be apathetic because State takes care of everything. State can’t afford to add expensive programs because our debts and obligations are already considerable and no political party is talking about reducing size of government radically to free up money so we are in stasis. 

        Elections Canada ~ Voter Turnout at Fed Elections and Referendums 1867-2008


        Voter Turnout Historical Perspective:

        “Much has been made of the general decline of voter turnout in recent Canadian elections. The historical record presents a useful perspective on this trend.  It is certainly true that the percentage of registered voters who cast ballots has declined- – especially since 1993.  

        However, it is important to note the number of fluctuations over the years of the numbers and percentage of registered voters as a percentage of the whole Canadian population (as measured at the census prior to the election). When one computes the percentage of votes cast as a percentage of the whole population, then the decline is not nearly so dramatic.  

        Indeed, the 45% level registered in the 2000 and 2006 elections is well within the range of 40-50% of Canada’s total population seen since 1935. Even the most recent election in 2008 remains within that historical range.”


  5. Compulsory voting in Australia – I signed up at 18, so does everyone else. Didn’t vote once, got fined $50. People there, no matter their education, have an opinion, attempt to participate in their future. Democracy is a verb, not a noun. It is as important as teaching kids to drive, encouraging them to get a job, instilling manners, etc. Why don’t we care? Am ashamed at 47%. Tell those who don’t vote to trade places with someone from the Middle East, who have died for the right. Remind them about all those who have died for the country in war, so they can have to right to decide not to vote. Pathetic.

    • Yes, why DO non-voters hate the troops?

      • It takes too much energy to support them?

  6. Cosh, you need to go lie down.

  7. The difference today is that it will be Team Blue whining instead of Team Red….or is it the other way around?

    • Exactly — and I’m waiting for somebody to explain to my why Harper is responsible for the low voter turnout in Ontario.  I’m sure it’s his fault.

  8. Who is there to vote for? There is no difference between Hudak and McGuinty, the same way there was no difference between Harper and Ignatieff, and Obama and McCain. There will be no change whoever you vote for, they’re all puppets serving the military industrial complex/global elite. The only politician worth my vote on this continent is Ron Paul, who I sadly CAN’T vote for. If a Canadian politician emerges who believes in freedom and liberty and small government and is not just spouting rhetoric, I’d walk an hour in a blizzard to vote.

    And you complainers would do well to listen to George Carlin:

    “I don’t vote. Two reasons. First of
    all it’s meaningless; this country was bought and sold a long time ago.
    The s*** they shovel around every 4 years *pfff* doesn’t mean a f***ing
    thing. Secondly, I believe if you vote, you have no right to complain.
    People like to twist that around – they say, ‘If you don’t vote, you
    have no right to complain’, but where’s the logic in that? If you vote
    and you elect dishonest, incompetent people into office who screw
    everything up, you are responsible for what they have done. You caused
    the problem; you voted them in; you have no right to complain. I, on the
    other hand, who did not vote, who in fact did not even leave the house
    on election day, am in no way responsible for what these people have
    done and have every right to complain about the mess you created that I
    had nothing to do with.”

    • Wow…I’m glad you didn’t vote.

    • Well said….I agree with you and George Carlin.

      We can really only answer one question on voting day, are you pissed enough with the incumbent to vote for some one unproven?  Nothing said during a campaign is either true or important, anyway.

  9. Wow, Colby Cosh. Bitter much? So much angry sarcasm, but it really seems to be misdirected. Did you vote?

    • Since he’s not a resident of Ontario, I would hope not?

  10. If people don’t want to vote, I say let em stay at home.

    All we need is a sample group anyway, same as in polls.

    In some countries they walk for days in order to vote….here in a supposed bastion of democracy people can’t be bothered to take 20 minutes….even with a ride….out of their day to put an X on a piece of paper.

    Lame excuses aside though…they had better not complain over the next 4 years.

  11. So let’s use that.  How about we change the times?  If only 50% of the voters are voting, how about keeping the polls open only 50% of the time?  Let’s say, start at 11:00 and go to 6:00.  Or how about each riding only has one poll?  Okay, four if you live in the North.  And then the next election, when only 30% of the voters are voting, how’s about we have only one poll per riding AND cut the time its open.  When we get down to only 20%, why not send those few people a ballot and have them mail it back?  Since there are so few voters, we can cut our representatives in half as well, and really save money.  Pretty soon we’ll get it down to one guy deciding on the Premier, who is the sole inhabitant of the Legislature.  And then we can get rid of that one guy.

    • No, we keep the one guy. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Random_ballot

      • Well, we take the random out of it, and just have me be the one guy, and I’m with you all the way!

  12. Alright, so the idea here is that “Turnout Nerds” are what? Deluded? Wasting their time? Missing the

    I’m not really sure what Colby’s point is, beyond mocking the self appointed “intelligentsia”? (Okay that might be a good reason to mock them in general, but still LOL)

    This was the lowest voter turnout since 1867, and frankly that DOES concern me.

    I’m not deluded enough to think we have any good answers to why people have given up on our provincial democracy, but when less than half of eligible voters bother to show up, I do think we CAN conclude that they have indeed given up.

    And what’s the result of that really?

    The government has a very weak mandate, even given the fact that a minority typically can be viewed as having a weak mandate.

    So this is a weak mandate amongst weak mandates, for all involved.

    What happens if the turnout is 40%? 30%? 20%?

    When do we in fact cease to be a democracy? Surely at some point it becomes merely a name with no meaning?

    • Turnout in Vancouver civic elections is around 30%.  I guess that means Gregor Robertson is a dictator?  I need not obey any municipal laws in Vancouver?

  13. I always make a point of voting, even in municipal and school board elections, but honestly, this was a hard one even for me to bother with. In fact, I almost declined my ballot.

    My main beef, (and it’s been a growing one over the years) is the utter lack of honest discussion, the non-stop negativity, the vacuous speaking points, political maneuvering etc etc… in the short: the politiking BS.

    I’m not the least bit interested in the egos of these people or their nonsense strategic maneuvering meant to appeal to the lowest common denominator, driving votes based on false dichotomies and mindless passions.

    I simply DON’T believe that our current political environment drives intelligent or well informed voters to vote. In fact I think quite the opposite is at play: those who are informed and aware of the state of politics in this country are often knowledgeable enough to know their vote doesn’t matter two godamn figs in a first past the post election based on ridings.

    Frankly, I’m to the point where I think a major shift in our democracy might be in order. I’m wondering whether more forced cooperation between parties might not change the dynamic sufficiently enough to make voting seem more vital, and one way to accomplish that would some form of proportional representation.

    I know people hate that because it’s less “decisive”, but at this point I wonder if it isn’t that very fact, ie that a government can obtain utter control with only 38% of the vote, that makes people feel their vote doesn’t matter?

    When you exclude over 60% of the voting public’s opinion, how is one to believe that we’re really truly a democracy in the grandest sense?

    • It’s a democracy because that’s what everybody chooses to do.  Forcing people to vote is as bad as not allowing them to vote.

      People in Canada lead comfy cosy lives for the most part…so unless something stupendous comes along,  they aren’t likely to care about politics.

      • I wouldn’t suggest “forcing” people to vote, but when less than half of eligible voters turn up, questions have to be asked concerning why.

        Frankly, I don’t think a lot of Ontarians are terribly “comfy cosy” right now given the unemployment figures, so the fact that turn out was so low speaks to something else in my opinion.

        One factor that I’ve heard from a lot of people that contributes to the indifference is the fact that a government can get a majority despite 60% of people voting for someone else.

        McGuinty missed his majority by a matter of a few hundred votes in a couple ridings, despite only having 37.6% of the popular vote.

        This while his two opponents Hudak and Horwath had 35.4% and 22.7% respectively.

        How is one to believe then that votes matter, when McGuinty was only one riding shy of being able to ignore the voting intentions of 62.4% of the voting public?

        In this day and age, where people are more interconnected than ever and more able than ever to access information and be up to date on current events etc etc, I think the “decisiveness” of the first past the post system has gone from a strength to a weakness.

        To make votes matter, I think we need to move to some form of proportional representation.

        • Well Italy and Israel have PR…do you think they’re run any better?

          Most Ontarians, like most Canadians, live comfy cosy lives….there are problems, and there always will be….but on the whole it’s a pretty good life here.

          So unless some major change comes along that people feel strongly about, we just quibble over ideology….and get miffed if we don’t get our way. Miffed enough to refuse to vote.

          Ask most people what they want the govt to DO however, and they don’t have an answer.

          Just some kind of vague ‘be better’….oh and of course fix our private hobby horse.

          But then……they wouldn’t need to vote at all.

          • Well given that Italy and Israel have voter turnout rates of greater than 80% and 70% respectively, yes I do think they’re doing something right.

            You seem to be skirting the point here. No matter the hubrous of some, voting isn’t about how knowledgeable the public is on the technical specifics of best practises for government.

            A Representative Democracy is supposed to be about picking someone we trust to represent us; someone we believe will learn the facts and make intelligent decisions on our behalf.

            We can’t all be experts after all.

            The problem is that rather than an honest exchange of ideas, rather than guiding opinions by fact, our political system and its elections have become proud displays of ignorance and mockery with no sense of vision whatsoever.

            So for me, the overall ideals of voters should be taken more into account, while we find ways to de-polarize the political spectrum.

            I believe PR would be one way to achieve this.

            Italy and Israel are good examples of this: despite numerous parties and perspectives, their parties manage to work together. Probably because they have no other option.

            I have no problem forcing parties to “play nice”.

            In fact I think it’s our only option at this point, and therefore should be their only option as well.

          • Which merely proves turnout rates are meaningless…Italy and Israel are disaster areas. 

             Ungovernable, immovable, and neither of them has an economy.

            I’m not trying to skirt ANY point….no we can’t all be experts, and we apparently have not the slightest interest in knowing the issues…we can’t even tell 2 platforms apart by the sound of it….so it doesn’t much matter what system we use.

            So fighting and mockery are the only way for politicians to even be known. One sentence gets you national headlines in this country….which is why everybody in the country knows the name of the mayor of Toronto….even though they probably can’t name any other mayor anywhere else.

            Democracy depends on an informed electorate. We don’t have that. We don’t even have a caring electorate….so the method of choosing leaders is irrelevant.

            We are more like Switzerland….nobody there even knows who the leader is at any given time….it’s a housekeeping govt.  The roads get paved, the trains run on time and life goes on.

            Any major question…like joining the EU…goes to a national referendum

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus Democracy isn’t about making things easier or better within it’s own context. It’s simply a system preferable to every other system we’ve used historically.

            Democracy is about people choosing representatives they can toss out at a later date if they aren’t satisfied with the results.

            And I would suggest to you that the voting public is more informed today in many ways than they were in say 1867, so I wouldn’t rely too much on that concept.

            The central concept to democracy is VOTING. So if people aren’t voting, then we have a problem, one way or another.

            That you think voter turnout is “meaningless” leads me to believe you’re not really in favour of democracy at all.

            And for the record, Italy and Israel are not “disasters” because of democracy. They’re disasters because of cultural and geopolitical factors that are very different from what we have here in Canada.

            Needless to say however, at least their people are engaged in their democracy, which is not something we can currently claim.

            More than half of all voters chose to stay home yesterday, despite the lovely weather and ease of voting.

            That signals a lack of interest. The question is why, and what we can do about it.

          • @Phil_King 

            Voting isn’t sacred you know….pouring some kind of holy oil over politicians….it’s a choice like everything else.

            Democracy isn’t sacred either, it’s just our current system. Better than dictatorships to be sure, but no ultimate answer.

            Being informed is also a choice…and if people don’t want to be informed they’ll just ignore newspapers, TV, the web and everything else when politics is involved.

            People don’t CARE….and you can’t MAKE them care.

            You seem to think if we just hit on the right magic formula, people will suddenly become involved, and want to vote.

            We’ve tried lowering the voting age, having fixed elections, rearranging ridings, having recall, having debates, new parties, longer hours, no news till BC votes….and it hasn’t changed anything.

            And PR, evoting, or any other remedy isn’t going to work either.

            Unless some BIG IMPORTANT QUESTION comes along, and how often does that happen….. people will stay home.

          • Whose suggesting voting is “sacred”? Goodness Emily, let’s not overstate things or mischaracterize what I’m saying for that matter.

            What I’m saying is that a democracy is based on voting. Pretty simple stuff. That’s its main differentiating feature from other systems.

            So if people aren’t voting, then it loses a degree of legitimacy.

            Now of course we could just throw up our hands, claim defeat and move on, much as you seem to advocate, but frankly I think we can do better.

            More than that, I think some people are in fact making a conscious comment on the state of our democracy.

            Lot’s of people have said they don’t vote on purpose.

            All this talk aside, the most important feature of democracy besides the vote, is in my opinion how it reflects the ideals of the AVERAGE Canadian.

            So if we’re excluding the preferences of the majority of Canadians, then clearly we are not reflecting those ideals very well are we?

            Again, the answer to a better reflection of general sentiment is proportional representation.

          • If people aren’t voting, it doesn’t de-legitimize democracy. It means people are generally happy with the status quo.  If they weren’t they’d make an effort to spend 20 minutes expressing their opinion.

            And if PR doesn’t work in Italy or Israel because of various geo-political and cultural factors, then it’s no better….because all countries have those factors.

          • @OriginalEmily1:disqus Emily, I’m not saying that “PR doesn’t work” in Italy and Israel.

            Italy and Israel have cultural and geopolitical issues that make those countries difficult to run regardless of the type of democracy.

            There are literally dozens of countries that have some form of PR now, and you’d be hard pressed to call them “failures”.

            For example: Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, Sweden, Norway, Japan, Iceland, Finland, Austria, Ireland, Scotland, Wales and the Australian senate, among a dozen other states at this time.

            Honestly, you’d think the idea was something you’d never heard before! LOL

          • @Phil_King 

            Oh I’ve heard of PR before…and it’s been rejected in Canada several times now.

            And if you’ve ever counted ballots here, you’d know why.

            Not to mention the crackpots we’re getting on this thread.

            If you want people to vote, make it harder to vote…then people will insist on doing so.

  14. The fewer votes cast, the more my vote counts.  I still look forward to the day I cast the only ballot in my constituency.

    Anything we can do to suppress the vote serves my goals.  So I’m with you all the way, Colby.  You are against increasing voter turnout, right?   Your opacity seems to be increasing.  By the way, what the H do you mean by “an indubitable positive vice”?

    • Then it will be just you and me pal. We can go to the local pub, hoist a few, watch the local candidates play a game of Twister, then decide whom we should vote for. Sounds like fun. 

      ‘Till I get back home then, you’re in charge. 

    • Which word don’t you know?

      • Just make it clear whether you’re for it or against it, and I’ll work it out from there.

        • I’m against (a) interpreting lower turnout in itself as a measure of poorer democratic health or functioning, at least within anything like the range we’re used to seeing, and (b) taking measures to increase voter turnout for its own sake, particularly if we’re not assured of other effects. (OR that whatever we’re trying will work at all, for heaven’s sake.) I think that covers everything.

  15. The Turnout Nerds are a sneaky people.  They tend towards the left, strongly.  The idea being that low turnout cohorts – students, young people, conspiracy theorists, the apathetic – vote left wing.

    Remember the student vote flash mobs from the last fed election?  Students proudly holding signs declaring “I’m voting!”, like a freshly potty trained two year old strutting about in his big boy pants.

    There is I think significant overlap between the advocates of internet voting and the critics of Diebold style e-voting machines, which is a bit ridiculous, since both are vulnerable to the same shenanigans.

    I didn’t vote in the last election because there was no reasonable conservative option.  I voted for Harper thrice, but couldn’t do it last time due to the $80 billion dollars in stimulus spending, I simply can’t reward that with a vote.

    • Well in fact, most people in this country are left of center from your perspective.

      You consider most Liberals to be lefties, correct?
      You consider Dippers to be lefties, correct?

      Well, they garnered more than 60% of the vote in Ontario this time around.

      If you add the newbies “strutting around in their big boy pants” who currently rather smoke pot and watch “Simpson” reruns, you’d have even more of them to contend with on average.

      Scared yet? LOL

      • ‘Scared yet? LOL’

        Not so much.  I’m more prepared than most for what now looks inevitable, the fall of the Canadian federal state and western civilization in general.  We’ll see who’s laughing when your kulak ass is breaking stones at Re-Education Camp North Buttplug 9, or getting passed around like a frisbee by the mob.

        • Well hey, as long as we’re putting our faith in likely scenarios right?

          Any predictions on when the communists will be invading? LOL

          • Who needs to predict?  You’re already here.

          • LOL that kind of ‘thinking’ is precisely why lots of people shouldn’t vote.

          • Thus supporting my original point, ie most Canadians appear to be lefties from the perspective of a social conservative.

            Of course one would think the term “socialist” would be scary enough, but hey, let’s up the ante and call them “communists!”

            Ewwww, scary! LOL

          • “Thus supporting my original point, ie most Canadians appear to be lefties from the perspective of a social conservative.”

            Atheists who favor legalizing hard drugs, gambling, and prostitution generally don’t get lumped in the category of “social conservative”, but I guess all right-deviationists look the same from the perspective of a solid Party apparatchik.

        • Re-Education Camp North Buttplug 9. Thos were the days.

    • Maybe you’re not the only one who didn’t vote last election because there was no reasonable conservative option?  Unlike you, I believe (and that’s what it is, a belief, like yours) that the demand for a smaller place of the state into our lives would rise considerably if those who don’t vote were forced to do so.  Are countries where voting is mandatory considerably more socialist than Canada ?

      • It’s not a belief, it’s well documented poli sci that non voters tend to be younger, and younger folks tend to vote left.  Voter participation increases with age, as does support of conservative parties, that’s poli sci 101 stuff.  Ask the Turnout Nerds, they’ll tell you.  Your belief, as a matter of well documented poli sci, is absurd.

        • LOL no it’s not.  It’s a Con belief from a misquote in the 1700s.

        • I have serious doubts that 51% of those who didn’t vote are young voters.  

        • Or put another way, the closer to dementia and senility you are, the more likely you’ll vote right-wing?

          • Yes, because all conservatives are stupid.  I read that a lot on Liberal and other “progressive” websites all the time, so it must be true.

          • Nah, not all of them. Many of them are simply too busy to pay attention to politics.

  16. Apathy towards a violent, predatory agency is a start.

    Voting is consenting.  What are you options here?  Vote in the PC’s who will take your money and use it to arrest and kidnap people who 80% of the time are committing victimless “Crimes”.  Vote in the liberals who will take your money and use it to subsidize laziness, create programs that their friends will receive stolen (taxpayer) funds through.  Or vote in the NDP, who will chase capital out of this country so fast we will have permanent double-digit unemployment (same goes for greens just with a slightly different focus).

    Either way you are voting for someone to use violence against innocent people to benefit others, all arbitrarily chosen by bureaucrats.

    I think NOT voting is the most informed choice you can make.  Maybe second only to revoking your “consent of the governed” at the ballot box.  People are realizing what the state is all about, and it’s about damned time.

    • Another good reason some people shouldn’t vote.

    • Okay then, vote “Rhino” or “Pirate” party if you must.

      At least then you’d be making some sort of statment.

      As it is, not voting is just passive agreement.

      You know:

      First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out —
      Because I was not a Socialist.
      Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Trade Unionist.
      Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out — Because I was not a Jew.
      Then they came for me — and there was no one left to speak for me.

      Speak up or accept what your inaction has produced.

      • Right.  So if we don’t increase voter turnout, the Nazis will take over.  Got it.

  17. As long as the non-voters are self-selected, the answer is “AT NO POINT do we cease to become a democracy”. The habit of measuring the mandate size by counting people who have no objection to the governing party as being against it–you may notice the subtle contradiction here–is ridiculous.

    • Totally agree.

    • Back in the bad old minority days, when Liberals were under the impression that they could somehow bullsh*t their way back into power, Liberal commenters like Ted Betts used to make a big deal about how Harper had “the lowest mandate ever”.  Ah, good times.

    • The contradiction is not subtle.  It’s a blaring and obvious.  Every time a journalist writes an article about poor turnout and the democratic deficit and refuses to mention this obvious fact, that journalist should be immediately fired for pure stupidity.  This would mean that the Canadian journalistic class would be 50% of its former size.

    • Naturally, if as a country you call yourself a democracy and people have the option to vote, then even if they don’t use it you’re still a democracy. The ability to vote is the key technical point of the definition after all.

      I would also agree that worrying about turn out from election to election for its own sake is little more than intellectual navel gazing for the most part.

      Clearly you prefer to think that people have tuned out merely because they have no objection to the existing or potential governing parties. I can certainly understand why this viewpoint would lead you to consider this a non-issue. I assume you believe that if there was a “real” problem, then people would “rise up” or something.

      Meanwhile, I think the ever dropping turnout rates are evidence of a growing apathy and/or cynicism about the entire political system itself, ie that people don’t think voting matters, because it literally doesn’t make any difference. It seems to me the nature of apathy that people WON’T do anything about it as long as they’re somewhat comfortable. Is that really a selling point for a society’s system of government though?

      Now certainly a little apathy isn’t unusual or problematic in any given system, but when more people opt out than opt in, I start to wonder whether you’re watching the beginnings of a bigger problem down the road.

      All that said, why not be proactive? Why not look to examples around the world of democracies that are vital and active and adopt those things that appear to work to engage the public?

      Because when all is said and done, it seems to me that a democracy that no one wants to participate in, is one in which no one has any faith.

      So we can cling to technical definitions if we like, but I might suggest that the “bar” for democracy in the information age should be considerably higher than it was a century ago when most folks in Canada still didn’t live with electric lights or drive “horseless carriages”.

  18. More drivel from the “Everything’s fine folks!! Nothing to see or worry about here!!’ nerds. As the chains of the new feudalism grow stronger and the people less able to see, let alone do something about, them.

    Democratic Revolution – now or never http://www.rudemacedon.ca/vgi/backgrounders/revolution.html .

  19. The “I don’t vote ‘cuz they all suck” crew seems to regard democracy as an in infomercial Rotisserie (set it and forget it) when it needs a little more tending-to than that. One of the reasons that many recognized blocs of voter are so successful is not just that they reliably show up to the polls, but they’re in fairly regular contact (or harassment) with their MP/MPP/MLA/Coucillor to let them know just how they feel about what they’re doing.

    For most people, working under no supervision (whether it be actual supervisors or the stink-eye from your co-workers) is a great recipe for running off the rails or doing very minimal work. The people that we’re electing are no different and they need to be whipped into shape when there. I really think that it’s an element of representative democracy that seems to be ignored from nearly all ends and in most available literature.

    Unfortunately, the “Turn-Out Nerds” and the Electoral Reform folks alike have been able to steer the discussion in those specific directions. Even if their reform fantasies were to come true, they will find themselves awfully disappointed when the people they send to the legislatures *still* don’t seem to represent them because representation demands communication and only those that communicate with them will be catered or pandered to. The only difference will be that the representative with their chosen tie colour will be the one doing it.

  20. Canada’s voting system is not democratic.  Why would I vote in undemocratic elections federally or provincially?  First-past-the-post is like stuffing the ballot box.

    Oh yeah, for those of you who want mandatory voting with a fine or jail, I’ll take jail.

  21. While Cosh makes some interesting inferences concerning the effects of fixed election dates his diatribe falls a little flat for me because I’m one of those folks who engages her fellow citizens at election time for political chat and I find that “Are you voting” is a great opening line. Why? Because the paper vote is a community ritual and it needs it’s players to survive. When the ritual is transformed into a virtual reality we’ll have a new common closer to replace the old opening line: “Did you vote? How?” Conversation is all there is in the final analysis. However we talk politics, whenever, it’s a good thing. Voter Turnout Geeks can come to my party anytime…

  22. Why not an incentive to vote? While the government (hopefully) does not know who, each of us who bothered to show up, voted for, it does know who did. How about a special status for voters. Each government provides services that, annually or every few years, we require. The feds provide passports and charge airport fees whenever we take a flight. How about a lower rate or quicker turnaround for voters? The non-voters pay the full posted rate and fall in line behind the voters in the processing.

    The province provides drivers licenses, vehicle plates, hunting licenses, health cards, birth certificates, and several other services, leveeing fees for each. How about a lower fee for voters?

    The city sets water and (in the case of the People’s Democratic Republic of Toronto) garbage disposal fees, as well as countless other fees for various services. Similarly, a lower fee could be charged to voters.

    Obviously, this is discriminatory to non-citizens. This is a complete red herring. Voting is the badge of membership in any jurisdiction. Any entity that has membership endows privileges to its members. It also expects members to carry out responsibilities in order to earn those privileges. If non-citizens wish to get the “preferred” treatment described above they can do whatever they can to become citizens.