As I watched a CBC show around mandatory voting, I came to the conclusion that it’s not a matter of forcing people to vote; but, the ultimate issue is with our current electoral system.
While the country has changed a great deal since 1867, our electoral system has not. Obviously, changes such as allowing women to vote have occurred; however, the fundamental system is still the same.
I’ve been thinking about this all week, and I would like to put out some ideas for people to think about themselves. I think there are three ways we can increase voter turnout with resorting to mandatory voting:
1) Proportional Representation
Canada’s has a first past the post system, which means that the person with the most votes wins; however, this is also the root of the decline in voter participation. Living in a riding that is almost guaranteed to go for a certain party’s candidate makes your vote pointless. For example, someone voting for the Green party in an Alberta riding has very little change of electing a candidate, and in effect this makes it more likely for these people to not even show up to vote.
I believe that this problem can be addressed by implementing Proportional representation.
Proportional Representation is a system that tries to balance the results (seats won) based on percentages of votes received. With this system, the Green party supporter in Alberta could vote for the Green party and know that their vote would matter, as it would be combined with all other Green party votes across the country. Having 5% of the support across the country would roughly translate into 15 seats for the Greens. On the flip side, the Bloc (with 10% support) would only receive 30 seats instead of the 75 that they currently have.
While there are disadvantages with this system (like all systems), I feel that it encourages people to get out and vote for the party that they support (without having to resort to vote swapping). When people are voting for what they believe, and they know their vote counts, they will vote.
2) Lower the Voting Age
At the age of 16 you are able to do a lot of things (legally) such as getting a permit to drive a car. I also believe that this is the age at which you should be allowed to start voting.
Currently the voting age is 18. The problem is that by the time you are 18, you are likely finished high school, or are finishing it. You may be in college or university dealing with tuition increases (or university closures) brought on by cuts made by the current government – one you were not allowed to vote for. I just can’t understand how this is acceptable.
I strongly believe that these students are more then able to make a informed decision. Also, the younger you start voting, the more likely you will keep voting throughout your live.
Check out Vote16.ca for more information!
3) Online Voting
There are a lot of amazing things happening online today.
People are shopping, banking, investing, and gambling. All of these are secure activities that many of us do everyday.
I believe that voting is one more thing that will be commonly performed online. Currently in Canada, it is the municipalities that are leading the way. Markham, Ontario is a great example. In 2006, they allowed people to vote online, check out that website for more information on how it worked.
With this option, you no longer have to worry about getting there before or after work, finding a place to park, or standing in long lines – simply log on and vote. When it’s that simple, it’s much more likely even an apathetic person will take the time to vote.