The Middle: So I can’t help but notice you didn’t vote... - The Orca
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The Middle: So I can’t help but notice you didn’t vote…

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Low voter turnout is a major problem for our democracy, at all levels. Period.

Do you need an incentive to vote? Should there be one?

A frustrated friend floated the idea on social media the other day: perhaps the time has come to incentivize voters.

Full disclosure, my friend is a realtor. So no huge surprise that he tied his idea to homeowners — perhaps “tying the homeowners grant” to voting.

Likely not the perfect plan, but is there something to the idea?

Might the much-maligned “speculation tax” be tied to voting? Maybe voters could be exempt from some percentage of income tax if they prove they voted in every election?

Could we all be overlooking some clear financial piece to this puzzling equation?

How might renters or marginalized members of the population be incentivized? I’m here to open the discussion.

We are just out of the civic frying pan (where voter turnout remains frustratingly low) and staring down the referendum fire.

In an ideal world, every taxpaying citizen 18 and over would cast ballots in a thoughtful and informed way. But would incentivizing create mayhem with people just simply checking the box of the most familiar name? No one wants that. (See: reality TV guy in the U.S.!)

During this past weekend’s municipal elections, we clearly did not meet expectations of voter turnout — seems folks thought it unworthy to take the time, or perhaps failed to see the importance. It’s stunning to see less than half the adult population have a say in how we’re governed.

It’s a head-scratcher – so how do we scratch that itch?

No doubt many are overwhelmed with the day-to-day struggles of our time. There is exhaustion associated with the weight of sifting through the details of what’s coming next: a very confusing referendum ballot — naturally being handled via mail, during Canada Post rotating strikes. (Insert shock emoji here.)

Do your best to stave off being overwhelmed. Like it or not, in just over a month, we must vote again — our task: deciding how our votes are counted.

Either way, you must take part. There is responsibility in citizenship, and this is it.

That brings me back to the topic today, is it time to us to discus how we vote in our country, not necessarily by way of changing our electoral system, but how we improve voter turn out.

Do we follow in the footsteps of Australia? Do we make it mandatory? Seems extreme. So The Middle here is: if it hit our bottom line, would you take the time to become informed and actually vote?

I’m sure this idea will get a “hell no” from those who stand to benefit from voters staying home – but I give them “hell yes” right back. It sure does feel like some of the world’s least functioning democracies are those where citizens stay home on Election Day (or ignore the mail-in ballot) because they “don’t really get it.”

If there were some sort of bottom-line benefit, things might just change for the better.

Exhausted by politics? You’re not alone. But now’s not the time to take a hiatus. In fact, the coming electoral referendum might just be the most important vote you ever cast.

Make it count.

Jody Vance is a born and raised Vancouverite who has 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