After a relatively short “official” campaign, Ontarians head to the polls tomorrow to elect a new government. Will you be among them?
Turnout for provincial elections has been dismal of late. It was just 52.8 percent in 2007 before sinking to a record-low 48.2 percent in 2011. It then crept up slightly to 51.3 percent in the last election held in June, 2014.
Still nothing to brag about.
Fortunately, things may be looking up. According to CBC News, turnout for the advance polls in this election was up almost 19 percent compared to four years ago, with an estimated 768,895 ballots cast versus 647,261 in 2014. Here in Kenora-Rainy River riding, though unable to release specific totals, local returning officer Ian Simpson said the advance polls were busier than the last election, calling it “the best turnout we've had.”
And of the 185 people who had responded as of this morning to this week's web poll in the Fort Frances Times, 74 percent said they planned to vote in this election compared to 19 percent who said “no" and seven percent who were "unsure.”
How that translates into voter turnout when the last ballot is cast tomorrow around 8 p.m. (CDT) remains to be seen but hopefully the final tally continues on the upward trend.
Nonetheless, it's troubling to think almost half of Ontarians eligible to vote won't bother to do so. Why is that? Do they feel getting to their local polling station is too much of a hassle or that their one vote won't matter in the grand scheme of things? Or perhaps it's a reflection of being completely disillusioned with politics today?
But really, there's no excuse not to vote; to not have your say in the future direction of our province. As has been stated here before, the power of the people is the cornerstone of our democratic values and traditions, which is no better illustrated than on election day when the choice of which political party forms the next government rests solely in the hands of ordinary voters in each and every riding.
It is a treasured right and a fundamental responsibility. Yet it's one far too many have been shirking.
If nothing else, remember those who fought and died so you and your children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren can exercise the right to vote freely. Remember, too, how so many people around the world today are dying to vote.
We are blessed to live in a province and country where election campaigns are not marred by violence or fraud. And come election night, governments and voters alike peaceably accept the outcome regardless of what it might be.
The success of our political system hinges on people taking the time and effort to make their choice. Don't be one who leaves it to others to decide. If you haven't already done so, be sure to make your mark tomorrow.
Every vote truly does count.