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“I am a Canadian, free to speak without fear, free to worship in my own way, free to stand for what I think right, free to oppose what I believe wrong, or free to choose those who shall govern my country. This heritage of freedom I pledge to uphold for myself and all mankind.” ~~ John G. Diefenbaker

SANDY MACDOUGALL: Even a relatively small share of the 16,000 voters who didn't participate could have made a big difference



Sandy Macdougall (aka the Sidewinder), who hails from Maple Ridge, has penned his last piece for me to run, prior to the election.  Think your vote doesn't count, or isn't important?  Read on to see why even a fraction of the people who don't vote, because it won't make any difference ... read on:
 
Edmund Burke; Irish statesman born
in
Dublin, was an author, orator,
political theorist, and philosopher.


Edmund Burke, the eighteenth century Irish philosopher, once said, “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.”

I disagree.

May 9, is provincial election day in British Columbia and, if past records are any indication, the big winner will probably be voter apathy where so-called 'good men' will sit idly by, letting others cast their ballots and make important decisions for them.

Probably forty per cent of the eligible voters in either of our local provincial ridings will not participate by casting a ballot. Are these good people? I think not because if they were really good people, they would vote.

The 2013 provincial election drew a pathetic turnout of just over fifty per cent province wide, a shameful turnout considering the number of important issues that were facing the voters.

Well, here we are four years later and there is a very strong potential for a repeat performance. I cannot explain the magnitude of voter indifference but I know it exists.


Politicians and election officials have been scratching their heads for decades trying to lure eligible voters to the polls in greater numbers but their collected efforts have failed to make much of a difference with thousands of eligible voters who just don't care enough.

I can't recall any election, federal, provincial or municipal, where the number of eligible voters who failed to show up at the polls couldn't have drastically altered the final results if they had set aside their remote controls and golf clubs or whatever else long enough to cast their ballots.

The turnout in both Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows and Maple Ridge - Mission was significantly better than the provincial average of just over fifty two percent but both fell just short of sixty per cent, leaving about 16,000 indifferent voters not casting their votes in each riding.

With forty per cent of the eligible voters not participating, Doug Bing won his Maple Ridge-Pitt Meadows seat with just over forty five per cent of the votes cast. Elizabeth Roseneau, the NDP candidate, trailed by less then a thousand votes with just under forty three per cent of the vote.

Do you think the sixteen thousand voters in Maple Ridge - Pitt Meadows who, for whatever reason, failed to vote could have made a difference?

The results for Maple Ridge - Mission were quite similar with Liberal Marc Dalton winning that contest with just under forty seven per cent of the votes cast; while NDP candidate Mike Bocking trailed behind with thirty nine per cent. With just twelve hundred votes separating Dalton and Bocking, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out that even a relatively small share of the 16,000 voters who didn't participate could have made a big difference.

Just like every other election, voters are faced with some tough decisions in this year's May 9 election:

Employment ... public spending ... health ... environment ... education ... housing ... and transportation, are just a few of the major issues.

But there is an even more important reason for people to exercise their democratic right to vote and that is strengthening our democracy.

If you're one of the cynics who think their vote won't make a difference; or, if you think that 'they're all alike' and won't vote for any of them, you are a big part of the problem.

There are very few legitimate excuses for failing to exercise your right to vote. For the few minutes it will take, British Columbia desperately needs you to shed yourself of that voter apathy and get involved by casting your ballot.

Of course, there is another old saying, “If you didn't vote, you have no right to bitch about the results.



SANDY Macdougall ... is a retired newspaper reporter. He was elected for three consecutive terms to Maple Ridge municipal council in the late 1970s and early 1980s, and also ran for the Progressive Conservatives in Kim Campbell's ill-fated federal election campaign.

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