Conservative, Green, Liberal, NDP, Other – doesn’t matter. VOTE. - The Orca
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Conservative, Green, Liberal, NDP, Other – doesn’t matter. VOTE.

Jody w Glasses 1
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There is no Middle on whether you should exercise the enormous privilege that is casting a secret ballot in a free country.

Walking through the community centre doors, I felt a surge of gratitude as the bright yellow arrows directed me to the polling place. My voter card and driver’s licence in hand, a kind young man pointed me to my line.

Voting in Canada is easy. If you don’t have the voter card which should have hit your mailbox by now, you can still easily vote. Bring your government ID, (passport, drivers licence/healthcard etc.) and an official piece of mail (such as your Hydro bill) and find your polling station via elections.ca. If all that fails, never fear. Little known fact: in Canada you can even have someone simply vouch for you if you don’t have a permanent address.

In line, I marveled at the woman ahead of me, walking her two pre-teens through the process, and promised next year to follow that lead. Even with their eye-rolls, the moment was rich.

Seconds later, my turn came.

First, I presented my ID. My name was scratched from the list by one woman while the other organized my ballot. She passed me the folded paper, giving me the same clear directions I’d just overheard with The Mom ahead of me: “make a check or X or any kind of clear mark for the candidate of your choice, fold it back like this and come back here.”

Ballot in hand, I headed behind the cardboard “booth” to make my mark, then back to the Elections Canada volunteer for the “ripping of the strip” to confirm proper protocol had been followed.

Then, the best part. The volunteer pulls back the blocker from the slit in the ballot box where my secret vote would land with others. As my hand moved to the spot, I exhaled.

My vote is cast. No word of a lie, I welled up.

A flood of emotion happens each and every time I vote, at any level of government. (Truthfully, it also happens when I attend weddings or the symphony. I’m a bit of a soft touch when it comes to being moved by life’s special moments.) Voting is emotional. Cliché to say, perhaps, but it is such a privilege to be free to cast a ballot for whomever resonates with me.

Campaigns are emotional too, and not in a good way. They wear us out don’t they? So many people are feeling overwhelmed and confused by mixed messages, fear, attack ads, and controversies.

These final days in this campaign continue to focus on hammering home messaging.

Much of that hammering is orchestrated to confuse undecided voters (and there are lots of those) leaving some to wonder if they can even stomach casting their ballot.

It has been quite remarkable listening to dedicated Canadians speak of spoiling their ballots: “I can’t choose the best of these awful options, I’m out.”

Please don’t be out.

Some argue with how our Canadian voting system makes voting strategic: “a vote for X is actually a vote for Y.” This especially comes into play if Canadians stay home in large numbers.

One of my very wise friends is a political scientist and author named David Moscrop. He tweeted something that has really resonated with me: there is no way to vote for a minority government.

The truth here is rather simple: the best way for Canada to maintain a strong democracy is to have everybody engaged in facts and casting a ballot.

Don’t let anyone talk you out of stepping up to vote, today’s Middle is clear: your vote matters.

Casting a ballot, whomever for, is a right you should exercise. Don’t stay home, don’t find an excuse to be busy…and please don’t spoil your ballot.

Be informed — please let that information not come from clickbait, rumours, or attack ad rhetoric meant to scare you. Do your due diligence on issues that matter to you. Understand platforms.

Canadians are not required to vote, though some feel we should be. The only way we secure a government of the people/by the people is if we all mark the ballot.

We are fed a daily diet of voting controversies from south of the border: how voter fraud is a thing — purged voting lists are a thing — and voter district gerrymandering is a thing.

None of these things are an issue in Canada. So vote.

Motivate yourself to appreciate and activate this privilege. Encourage and even bring fellow Canadians with you to the voting place, even if they have different political leanings.

Voting matters, no matter what. And the rush of gratitude that comes with casting that ballot in a free country is priceless.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who’s spent 30 years in both local and national media. The first woman in the history of Canadian TV to host her own sports show in primetime, since 2011 she’s been working in both TV and radio covering news and current affairs.

SWIM ON:

SWIM ON