I have been hearing about large groups of people in the U.S. protesting the outcome of the recent presidential election. My first thought is “good for them” and my second thought is “I really hope they voted”. In the run up to the U.S. election, it was estimated that between 80 and 100 million voting-age Americans would not cast their vote in the presidential election. Percentage wise, the voter turnout for Canadian elections isn’t usually much better. For some, there may be a legitimate reason; such as they may be ineligible to vote for one reason or another. And, in the U.S. anyway, there may be some other valid, political reasons why people decided not to cast their ballot this year (we won’t get into that). But I think we can still surmise that there is a significant number of people don’t vote in any election simply because they don’t think voting matters.
The same thing – on a much, much small scale – happens here at the CRTO. The province has been divided up into 6 geographic districts. Every 3 years, an election is run in districts with recently vacated seats and RTs in those districts have the opportunity to put their name forward to run or to elect other RTs to fill those Council and Committee positions. Unfortunately, most positions on Council or Committee are acclaimed, meaning that only one person put their name forward, and sometimes a position is left vacant for a period of time because not a single person ran in that district. Perhaps more disturbing, however, is the low, low “voter turnout”. It seems that many RTs in Ontario don’t seem to think that voting this this type of election matters much either.
It is Barack Obama who has been quoted several times as saying, “democracy isn’t a spectator sport” (please forgive the shameless paraphrasing in the title). And I think, if recent events have taught us anything, we all need to think seriously about our role in all democratic process – including the CRTO elections.
Elections are coming up again next year. Think about running, nominating someone who is interested in running or, at the very least, voting if a ballot comes your way. To paraphrase President Obama just a bit further, “Self-regulation is a participatory event. If we don’t participate, it ceases to be a self-regulation.”