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Sunday, October 19, 2008

Voter turnout way, way down

Internet voting didn't help

Posted By on Sun, Oct 19, 2008 at 7:42 AM

The elections office hasn't yet released final figures, but it appears that voter turnout in the municipal election is way down.

In the race for mayor 100,708 people, or about 38 percent of registered voters, have cast votes this year (there is still a single unreporting table out of 570), compared to 125,035, or about 48 percent of voters, who cast votes in the 2004 mayoral election.

And consider that this year's mayor race was much more interesting, much closer, than that of four years ago. If anything, voter turnout should have gone up, not down.

We will no doubt be given the explanation that the close proximity of the federal election reduced turnout locally, but the bottom line is that internet voting failed to accomplish what it was billed to do: increase voter turnout. There's really no simple answer here-- people could've voted while waiting for porn to download, or while their Facebook status was updating, it was that easy. And still, they didn't vote.

Can we now put to rest the bullshit argument that voting is just too hard? There are, indeed, reasons why people don't vote, but it's not about the difficulty of getting to the polling station. It's about the disengagement of the average person from the political process. I can throw out a few suggestions for why that's so--- an understanding on the voter's part that the process has degraded to a cynical manipulation of empty soundbites, the expectation that no politician will address the real concerns facing the community, for starters. There are no doubt many more. Being too busy to get to the polls isn't one of them.

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