I’m not sure why it is that so much of our population are apathetic about participating in the electoral process. The voter turnout in our 2017 by-election was 11%. 89% of our eligible voters had something better to do on that day. I find that alarming. And I have to wonder why this is the case.
Is it because people feel excluded from the process? That our candidates lack a representational diversity that alienates an increasingly multi-cutural population? Is it a failure of our civic communication strategy? Is it because we mostly have it pretty good?
As a huge political geek, and hopeful nominee, I have been intently devouring information on our upcoming civic election. Swapping speculation about the political machinations of each parties machine with other political geeks, with a gleam in our eyes that I presume is most often seen in water cooler conversations about nighttime drama story arcs or condo strata politics.
And it’s fairly easy to forget, in the company I keep, that our upcoming municipal election isn’t even on the radar for a vast majority of Vancouverites. The general public is aware of course of some of the cornerstone concerns – affordability. Transportation. Housing and development. People have a vocabulary about what’s affecting them, personally. But it doesn’t seem to me to be so clear to people how they can affect change. How they can mobilize to support their needs.
It may surprise a fair number of Vancouverites to learn that our municipal structure is party based – candidates run with a team of other candidates, under a party banner. It may further surprise them to learn that we don’t have a ward system. So when you’re voting for your representatives, they’re not specific to your neighbourhood – they have to campaign across the whole city.
Right now, and in the next few weeks, your candidate options are being selected by party members – not just in Vancouver, but in municipalities across the lower mainland. At the end of the next month or so, it will be set who you’ll be able to vote for.
Did you know that you have a chance to influence this? That by joining one of the municipal parties, that you have the opportunity to choose the individuals that will stand for election? For a mere $10, you can join one of the municipal parties of Vancouver, and have a say in who your candidate options are. Just $10 to make a choice about who you want to work for your vote.
Are you one of those folks who doesn’t vote because you feel it’s useless? That you’re not included in the process, and that the outcome won’t represent you anyway? Before you come to that conclusion, or maybe, to come a little back from that conclusion, this is your chance. To push yourself to be more engaged – to be an active participant in your own possible future.
Joining a party doesn’t mean you’re obligated to vote for only that party’s candidates when the election comes around. You can still vote for the candidates that inspire and speak to you, the ones that represent you. And of course, you’re welcome to vote for all of the candidates of that party too, if you find yourself believing the core message and leadership.