By Sue Tiffin
Published June 5, 2018
It’s a message we hear all the time: that one person can make a difference, that a small ripple can lead to big waves, and especially of late, that every vote counts.
For some still undecided voters right now, what is a civic obligation might feel more like a futile burden. Ontario residents have been disappointed with their choices, or lack thereof, in what has been a sometimes hostile, often frustrating, seemingly hopeless campaign period leading up to the election this week.
Some voters are opting to decline their ballot – not by not showing up, or spoiling their ballot, but by officially recording that they are unhappy with the options or the political process.
But there is significantly more power in instead choosing a person or a party (even if they are the “least-worst” option) and then holding that person or party accountable to what they’ve promised. People showing up to vote could prevent a majority government, or show support to a candidate even if they’re not likely to win, encouraging them to continue to run in the future. When people vote, they join a collective potentially making a change in society by electing a capable leader.
In 1972, Liberal candidate Norman A. Cafik won an election with 16,328 votes defeating the Progressive Conservative Frank McGee’s 16,324 votes – a difference of four votes – enabling a Liberal minority government. In 2011, Conservative Jay Aspin won with 18 votes more than longtime Liberal incumbent Anthony Rota. There are numerous close elections in Canadian (and worldwide) history – even Doug Ford himself took leadership of the PC Party of Ontario with just 50.6 per cent electoral votes compared to Christine Elliott’s 49.4 per cent back in March. Every vote matters.
In the internet age, and in this county with its unprecedented media concentration, there’s absolutely no excuse to not be able to choose a way to vote. Research will help you form an opinion on which party’s platform most aligns with your views. But ensure that opinion is based on fact, not simply on sound bites coming out of the mouths of candidates. Make an informed choice to participate in the process by voting for the government you want, or the one you find least offensive.
And if that fails, join with others in voting for the good of the province, for the good of others. Even if you can’t find something to suit what you might need, consider what might best allow our vulnerable to live with dignity in this province. We report, almost weekly, in this newspaper about some of the issues numerous residents in rural communities like ours face in finding or affording housing, health care, transportation, education, and child care. Surely one of these pressing issues is important to you even if you think it doesn’t directly affect you. If absolutely none of the candidates are appealing to you, personally, vote for who you determine is best suited to help those who need life in this province to be better. No time for that? Just read the environment section of each party’s platform and vote on behalf of the earth.
The polls are open Thursday, June 7 from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. People who cannot leave their home, cannot read or write or need assistance can call the number on their voting card up until June 6 to request a home visit by election officials. Services for accessible voting are also available at voting locations – call ahead if you’re unsure of what is available. All eligible voters can vote with ID even if they haven’t received a voter information card yet.
Offer a ride to the polls to your neighbour, even if you’re not voting for the same person (maybe especially if you’re not voting for the same person, if you want to make the car ride interesting).
Mobilize yourself and help others get mobilized, too. Together, our one vote counts.