Democracy is something that benefits everyone, and its health depends on all of us. If you’re not planning on voting on October 22, this post is for you. Think about reconsidering that decision, because in reality, your vote does matter, and could make the difference!
- Results can be closer than you think!
Think your vote doesn’t count? Think again! In the 1988 Canadian federal election, the winner of the London-Middlesex riding took it by only eight votes – 18,534 to 18,526. Despite the volume of votes, only eight people made the difference. That’s a huge deal!
Consider this: What if only a dozen more people had decided to come out and vote?
This should be in everyone’s mind as they head to the ballot box – your vote does matter, and it can be the deciding factor!
- Even the minority can alter how people think
Votes can be a barometer of how popular issues actually are, even in a losing cause. It shows those in power that people do care, and do want to participate. It can influence messaging in future elections and change how people feel about an issue.
It is easy to feel dispirited after losing an election, yes. But the results can still be a sign that times are changing. Think about the hard work activists put in to get women the vote, at a time when even a lot of women didn’t think it appropriate. Making change happen means letting everyone know that support exists, and it may help change people’s minds in the future!
- Elections affect everyone
The policies that come out of city halls and school boards affect all people in our city. Municipalities are responsible for transit, local by-laws, and a huge number of other issues that will affect every citizen regardless of age, gender, neighbourhood, or socioeconomic status…
This means politics affect youth, too! If politicians see that one type of voter isn’t civically active (*ahem*Millennials*ahem*), it makes it easier to ignore what they care about. Why should they, if they only need to count on one generation putting them in office? Remember, elections are a two-way street!
- Democracy is at all levels of community living
Democracy doesn’t reside exclusively in Parliament Hill, Queen’s Park, or City Hall. It’s how we govern our schools, too, and how we pressure the powers that be to put change into effect. Whenever you sign a petition, or march in protest, or write a letter to your elected officials, you are participating in democracy – and so is voting! Your vote matters because the act of voting is a strong signal to the people in power, and this signal can be felt at all levels.
- To stay healthy, democracy needs only a few minutes of your time
Unfortunately, many people don’t think this is true. Turnout for municipal elections in many places last election season was a historic low, and candidates in many communities across Ontario are finding themselves uncontested in their bids for office this year. But to keep our elections free, we need to have a population that engages with their inalienable rights!
The right to vote is something generations of soldiers, activists, and trailblazers have fought to keep free and expand to everyone. A true representative democracy in Canada is less than a hundred years old, but so many of us have already taken it for granted. If only half of us turn out to vote, what does that say about public engagement? What does it say about how we see the community around us? Your vote matters because you matter, and one of the easiest ways to influence your community takes only a few minutes of your time!