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How do we get more people to vote?
#1
Only about a third of those eligible to vote actually cast a ballot in this year's municipal elections. This despite all the attention directed at issues like the LRT, Seiling's lengthy tenure, new mayors for Kitchener and Waterloo, contentious candidates, robocalls, attack ads, etc. 


If the LRT wasn't an important enough issue to get people to vote then what would it take? Would an explicit referendum on the LRT have gotten more people to devote 15 minutes out of their "busy" schedules to exercise their franchise?

There was some discussion on another thread about the pros and cons of electronic voting. Would e-voting encourage more people to vote? Would that benefit outweigh the potential for increased voter fraud?

Should we extend eligibility to non-citizen residents?

Or maybe low voter turnout isn't quite the problem many make it out to be. After all presumably those took a few moments to vote also took a few minutes to get acquainted with the issues. If we make voting too easy then perhaps we'll get more people to vote but their choices will be less informed. Is quantity over quality desirable?
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#2
I'd argue for extending the vote, at least locally, to non-citizens. Disclaimer: I am a non-citizen. 

I have been in the Waterloo Region for 3.5 years now and i'm on track to get the right to vote in about 6 years from now (assuming everything goes perfectly and wait times don't get longer - HA!). It has already been so frustrating to be here and not have a say, that I am already intentionally tuning out so it bothers me less . . . but likely that will lead to me being disengaged whenever (if ever!) I actually get the right to vote - which brings me to something else we should consider. 

This country is falling over itself to offer options for learning English, but there is no way I have found so far to clearly learn about the government system. I have asked numerous citizens and most of them seem quite fuzzy on process (why are elections seemly called at random?) and other aspects. Why isn't there a government sponsored website, or video, or textbook (the citizen preparation handbook I found online is a joke) to provide a refresher for Canadians and an intro for the rest of us? And if there is, can someone point me to it?
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#3
(10-29-2014, 09:10 AM)ookpik Wrote: There was some discussion on another thread about the pros and cons of electronic voting. Would e-voting encourage more people to vote? Would that benefit outweigh the potential for increased voter fraud?

Cambridge tried it this election - people seem to have liked it, but it did not radically change turnout. Turnout in Cambridge increased less than it did in Kitchener - so factors like having a more interesting race (for mayor without an incumbent) make a bigger difference.

That's setting aside the problems of online voting.


(10-29-2014, 09:10 AM)ookpik Wrote: Should we extend eligibility to non-citizen residents?

That would be nice! It would increase participation, though it wouldn't increase turnout because the denominator would go up as well.
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#4
Free Timmy coffee at voting stations would probably drive up the #'s Smile

That's the sad reality of a highly democratic country/society = low turnout, just like birth rate
Only if people care enough, like Toronto with 61% turnout, then they would vote

I come from Taiwan and Elections/Democracy is too crazy over there, personal attack, manipulation, etc... nothing I like either
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#5
Having the polling stations be more accessible is a good start. In 2010, I didn't bother to vote because the polling station for my address was not convenient for transit from my home. I would have had to walk 25 minutes each way or take a poorly-scheduled bus halfway and then walk. In contrast, if I lived a few blocks to the north in Waterloo I would have had the option of voting at Waterloo City Hall or Conestoga Mall. I even contacted the City of Kitchener to find out about my options and was told, "Tough luck, we can't put polls within 5 minutes of every voter." Frankly I didn't feel compelled enough by the candidates then to go through the effort (yes, I'm a bad citizen).

This year Kitchener allowed advance voting at many locations so I was able to vote at Kitchener City Hall on my way to the Market, in about 5 minutes.
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#6
Okay, let's get some actual data in this thread, instead of just talking about how Doom And Gloom everything is.

Actual turnout figures from here


Quote:Kitchener


    2014 voter turnout: 29.94 per cent. Figures on ballots cast and eligible voters not yet available.
    2010 turnout: 27.41 per cent, according to the city.
    2006 voter turnout: 25.48 per cent or 37,464 out of 147,042 eligible votes.

Waterloo

    2014 voter turnout: 35.93 per cent or 25,750 ballots cast out of 71,667 eligible voters.
    2010 voter turnout: 41.16 per cent or 27,253 ballots cast cast of 66,206 eligible voters.
    2006 voter turnout: 28.66 per cent or 22,927 ballots cast out of 79,997 eligible voters.

Cambridge

    2014 voter turnout: 29.89 per cent or 25,679 ballots cast out of 85,922 eligible voters.
    2010 voter turnout: 28.71 per cent or 23,924 ballots cast out of 83,329 eligible voters.
    2006 voter turnout: 26.33 per cent or 22,521 ballots cast out of 85,547 eligible voters.

Guelph

    2014 voter turnout: 44.97 percent or 38,933 ballots cast out of 86,574 eligible voters.
    2010 voter turnout: 33.9 percent or 28,072 ballots cast out of 82,794 eligible voters.

North Dumfries township

    2014 voter turnout: 39.63 per cent or 3,037 ballots cast out of 7,663 eligible voters.
    2010 voter turnout: 48.64 per cent, or 3,441 ballots cast out of  7,075 eligible voters.
    2006 voter turnout: 26.81 per cent, or 1,951 ballots cast out of 7,276 eligible voters.

Wellesley township

    2014 voter turnout: 29.3 per cent, with a total of 7,658 eligible voters.
    2010 voter turnout: 11.49 per cent or 846 ballots cast out of 7,365 eligible voters.
    2006 voter turnout: 31.37 per cent or 2,206 ballots cast out of 7,033 eligible voters.

Wilmot township

    2014 voter turnout: 40.6 per cent, or 6,115 ballots cast out of 15,095 eligible voters
    2010 voter turnout: 47.15 per cent, or 6,782 ballots cast out of 14,384 eligible voters
    2006 voter turnout: 24.7 per cent, or 3,317 ballots cast out of 13,403 eligible voters

Woolwich township

    2014 voter turnout: 36.9 percent, 6,637 and 17,985 eligible voters (unofficial)
    2010 voter turnout: 36.26 percent 6,089 ballots cast or 16,794 eligible voters
    2006 voter turnout: 27.03 percent or 4,205 ballots cast out of 15,559 eligible voters  


I don't see a particular crisis in civic engagement here.  In fact, contrary to headline on the article, I see distinct, steady improvement in Cambridge and Kitchener.  Even Waterloo's 2010 results are likely an outlier, as that was a mufti-referrendum ballot.
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#7
(10-29-2014, 01:37 PM)Markster Wrote: Okay, let's get some actual data in this thread, instead of just talking about how Doom And Gloom everything is.

I don't see a particular crisis in civic engagement here.  In fact, contrary to headline on the article, I see distinct, steady improvement in Cambridge and Kitchener.  Even Waterloo's 2010 results are likely an outlier, as that was a mufti-referrendum ballot.

Who's talking about "Doom and Gloom" or "a particular crisis in civic engagement"? I don't believe I did Wink 

I would have thought that with all the controversies I mentioned above voter turnout would have been substantially higher this year than in previous elections. Yet it wasn't, at least not generally. 

I don't consider one third participation to be acceptable, whether it's in this election or prior municipal elections. That's why I started this thread. What can we do to get people more engaged?

Note also that voter participation in the townships seems as high or even higher than in the cities. That's interesting because I suspect the average township resident had much further to travel to get to a poll than the typical urban resident. 
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#8
Australia has mandatory voting. I assume that you can spoil or decline your ballot once you show up at your polling station. Actually, does someone know what happened with Waterloo's machines when not all the boxes were filled in?

Random voting with high turnout isn't necessarily better than what we have now. I would think that some would study up on the candidates. But I don't know how many. It is well known that the first name on the ballot gets more votes than it should in a randomized order. Not a concern in most races this year, but it can matter in a close race.

In general I don't think voting is super rational, but it does reflect general satisfaction with the way things are going (which is good) or a feeling of disenfranchisement and that one vote doesn't matter (less good!) I don't know how to tell the difference between these possibilities.
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#9
(10-29-2014, 03:10 PM)plam Wrote: Actually, does someone know what happened with Waterloo's machines when not all the boxes were filled in?

If you mean what happens if someone votes in all races except (for example) school board trustees, then the scanner processes the ballot and tabulates only the votes actually cast. There are no alarms or other indications that the ballot was incomplete.
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#10
I canvassed for one of the local candidates and busy schedules was one of the reasons we heard at the door for why people weren't going to bother to vote.  The other one were the very frank, "I don't get involved in politics" answers.  Unfortunately, for better or for worse, citizens have a confused view about municipal politics.  In some cases it's informed by other jurisdictions (say, Toronto and it's hijinks) and in other cases, I think they are informed by TV or movies.  Can anyone name a movie about a good municipal politician?

I think having specific issues to attract people to the polls helps too (see the comment above about Waterloo's multiple referendum votes in 2010).  Further, telling voters to not bother voting for an anti-LRT candidate because it was a done deal didn't help encourage people to get out and vote either.  If they didn't want to vote for the current crowd, but were encouraged not to vote for an opponent (or for that matter, couldn't find one that they liked), what was left?

Without looking up candidate profiles on websites, can anyone name any big issues where there was any debate (ie clash or different points of view) about what should be done? To the uninformed, municipal politics can be dull and without stimulating issues.

Present forum members aside, not many people get excited about zone change variances or most of the other items that cycle through a municipal agenda.  Smile
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